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Murder On The Trans-Siberian Express [Hardcover]

Stuart M. Kaminsky
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Dec 2001
Inside the Moscow Police Department, madness regins. Inspectors Karpo and Zelach enter the underground world of post-punk rock clubs searching for clues to the disappearance of an anti-Semitic rock star who happens to be the son of one of Moscow's most powerful Jewish citizens. Then there is the young woman, dubbed the Phantom of the Underground by the media, who is randomly stabbing well-dressed men in the Moscow Metro. And Chief Inspector Rostnikov is en route to Vladivostok in a first-class carriage on the Trans-Siberian Express - the greatest train in the world. It now carries two hand-picked officials of the Moscow Police...and an extortionist who may have information that could bring down the entire Russian government.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Import (19 Dec 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892967471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892967476
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,040,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Chief Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov stood at the window of his office with a reasonably hot cup of strong Turkish coffee warming the palms of his hand. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Russian Murder & Mayhem! 5 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
In modern Russia the law is written by Kafka & Chief Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov of the Moscow Police who must unravel the abduction of a skinhead rock star known as The Naked Cossack, find a serial-killer who wields a deadly kitchen knife in the Moscow Metro & board the legendary Trans-Siberian Express to thwart the selling of a Russian heirloom for a fortune in American dollars.
This is a quick history lesson of the Trans-Siberian Railroad & the Russia through which it was laid more than a century ago, when conditions were about as primitive as when the tracks were laid across America & the workers were far less fortunate.
"Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express" is a very good read - filled with history, atmosphere, the absurd juxtapositions of a blackmarketeer who would rather be a stand-up comedian; a father kidnapping a son; a rock star composing lyrics out of his own terror; a father/daughter relationship that spawns murder & a detective with a pesky prosthetic & a mysteriously beautiful spy who sets her eyes on Porfiry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Stuart Kaminsky's Inspector Rostnikov series is firmly
settled in my list of favorite--and best--police procedural
mysteries.
Along with Donna Leon, Ruth Rendell, Martha Grimes, and P.D.
James, readers, who prefer this genre, cannot go wrong.
In his latest thriller, Kaminsky's intrepid inspector finds himself almost on a wild-Russian-goose chase, clear across the
Siberian tundra! In "Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express," the author winsomely blends his usual reader-intrigue with a trip into history to provide the reader with a salient, viable parallel of Rostnikov's pursuit.
As his readers of this series have come to expect, Kaminsky is not content to have one plot (certainly not, when three or four others simultaneously will do!) carry the book. Rostnikov of the Moscow Metropolitan Police finds himself,once more, amid the political intrigue of Moscow while trying to sort out--and prosecute--labeled criminals! With his amiable assistants,
Russian criminals are far from safe. Karpov ("The Vampire") and Zelach are trying to find the kidnapped son of a local magnate.
The son is a disfranchised but popular local rock star known as the Cossack. Elena and Iosef (Rostnikov's son) are pursuing a serial murderer in the Moscow subway system); and Sasha Tkach, aside from trying to solve his own marital problems, is working with Rostnikov on the primary case here! A bit much?
A bit much? Confusing, perhaps? Not to this reader, who delights in Kaminsky's terse style, fantastic characterizations, incredible depth of perception of the Russia of today.
To say this book moves with the pace of a speeding freight train might strain the metaphor here, but regardless, Kaminsky maintains his control over the series (of which, one hopes, there will be many, many more episodes). An excellent read--hop on board and get set for a delightful journey!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of an excellent series 26 Jan 2002
By Bruce Trinque - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Stuart Kaminsky's series about Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov and his team of Moscow detectives bears a strong similarity to Ed McBain's "87th Precinct" police procedural novels. And that is no coincidence -- Inspector Rostnikov can often be found relaxing with a tattered paperback Ed McBain novel in hand. "Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express" is one of the best of the books in the entire series. Three cases unfold in parallel: An unknown woman is stabbing men seemingly at random on the Moscow subway. A skinhead rock star, the son of a wealthy media magnate, has been kidnapped. And Rostnikov is sent on a journey aboard the Trans-Siberian Express train because of a report that a courier is to exchange a suitcase full of money for a mysterious package. Interwoven with these threads are the evolving personal stories of the detectives. Is Karpo mentally disintegrating? Will Sasha Tlach reconcile with his wife? What does the future hold for Iosef Rostnikov and Elena Timofeyeva? And what plumbing problems await Porfiry? Although a newcomer to the series could read "Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express" with pleasure both for the mysteries presented and for the social commentary upon present-day Russia (a strong point of this Kaminsky series has been its portrait of, first, a decaying Soviet Union and, later, of a new Russia stumbling through chaos), such a reader would not fully appreciate the significance of the background material dealing with the personal lives of the various detectives. My recommendation is to read this novel, most certainly, but first go back and read those which came before. In Porfiry Rostnikov Stuart Kaminsky has created an admirable protagonist, both strong and wise. Fueled by deep compassion, Rostnikov serves justice, not the letter of the law, and he has long ago learned the art of the possible, tempering his quest for justice with the knowledge that such justice is not always obtainable in a world ruled by power and corruption. Some times -- most times -- a partial victory is all that can be achieved.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kudos from Dave 7 Jan 2002
By Dave Schwinghammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In my humble opinion the Porfiry Rostnikov mystery series is the best one going. It rivals Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park for a realistic portrayal of Russia. Stuart Kaminsky's series may be better, though. Cruz Smith gave up writing about mother Russia after the Wall came crashing down. Kaminsky has done his research and he makes modern Russia one of the characters.
The ensemble of human characters jumps right off the page, especially Porfiry, chief inspector in the Office of Special Investigations of the Moscow Police, a unit that handles cases no one else wants. His nickname is "The Washtub" because of his weightlifter build; he's lost one of his legs due to a war wound; and he "meditates" by doing volunteer plumbing around his apartment building. His immediate underling, Emil Karpov, is an unrepentant Communist who looks like Bela Lugosi, only taller. Other detectives include Rostinikov's son Iosef, a former actor and Afghani veteran; his fiancé, and Sasha Tkach, the Robert Redford of the cast, whose wife has left him, mainly because of his meddling mother who had lived with them.
Kaminsky's strategy in Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express is to have the detectives divvy up three cases. Tkach pursues a woman is murdering subway businessmen, up close and personal, with a kitchen knife. Karpov tackles the case of a missing punk rocker, a possible kidnapping victim. Rostinov takes a trip on the Trans-Siberian Express in search of an intriguing historical document involving the Tsarina.
Believe me, it's not the mystery that holds your attention in Kaminsky's Rostinov novels. You just want to hang out with these people, and you hate it when the story ends.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Policework in a city without laws 18 May 2002
By "curtcow" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm new to Kaminsky, so all the Russian named characters living in a different world made the early going slow. By Book II, however, I was up to speed and turned onto the pace of three overlapping plots:
1. Porfiry Rostnikov, the seasoned Moscow cop with a plastic leg, along with Sasha Tkach is on a mission on the title train in a compartment with a couple of Americans, an intriguing female agent and Pavel Cherkasov, Russia's answer to Henny Youngman. Igor (the Yak) Yaklovev is Rostnikov's Machiavellian boss. He thrives running a police department in a society that acknowledges law enforcement but has no clearly accepted laws and has his own reasons for sending them on the assignment.
2. Rostnikov's son Iosef and partner Elena are chasing Inna, a psycho whose answer to a father's lack of attention is to plunge a kitchen knife into Moscow commuters who remind her of him.
3. Emil Karpo another hardened police vet and his more mystical junior partner Zelach are looking for the missing lead singer in a skinhead rock band. The Naked Cossack, whose real name is Misha Lovski, is the son of a Rupert Murdoch like Moscow media mogul rebelling against his father's life.
The investigations weave through each chapter moving toward independent but simultaneous conclusions. The drama of the chase or who did what to whom, however, is the sideshow. The real story is about how Kaminsky's characters react to what happens around them, both on and off the job. In the end it's not about justice but rather Rostnikov and the Yak manipulating each other to preserve what passes for order in their chaotic worlds. Even if you can't remember their names or identify with their lifestyles, you'll know what makes Kaminsky's characters tick and empathize with the way each plays the hand life has dealt.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful view of modern Russia 28 Dec 2001
By booksforabuck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In Russia, the concept of law and justice has been shaken. Mafias rule towns and even regions, powerful men battle for even more power, and the ghosts of the Soviet and Imperial past haunt everyone's memories. Yet, the police must continue to function, criminals must somehow be brought to court if not to justice. Chief Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov of the Office of Special Investigation is involved in three crimes, related only in the way that they show the breakdown in Russian society. A skinhead musician has been kidnapped; a killer is loose in Moscow's subways brutally knifing well dressed men; and somewhere on the route of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, a long-lost secret may be found--but only if someone is strong enough, and brutal enough, to pierce the layers of death that surrounds it.
Author Stuart M. Kaminsky has created a powerful vision of modern Russia and the men and women who police it, striving for justice despite their realization that this goal is unattainable. Rostnikov, in particular, is an interesting character with a rich history, a family that he cares for deeply yet cannot fully satisfy, and a boss whose goal is power rather than justice. Kaminsky has added depth to several of his other recurring characters, especially Zelach who shows an unexpected knowledge of rave music, and the brooding Emil Karpo.
MURDER ON THE TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS feels authentically Russian. Kaminsky is able to present the heroism of the mundane in ways that reflect both the classic authors of Russia's past, and a far more lighthearted mystery tradition. Well Done.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rostnikov doesn't get side tracked in this thriller! 17 Nov 2001
By Billy J. Hobbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Stuart Kaminsky's Inspector Rostnikov series is firmly
settled in my list of favorite--and best--police procedural
mysteries.
Along with Donna Leon, Ruth Rendell, Martha Grimes, and P.D.
James, readers, who prefer this genre, cannot go wrong.
In his latest thriller, Kaminsky's intrepid inspector finds himself almost on a wild-Russian-goose chase, clear across the
Siberian tundra! In "Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express," the author winsomely blends his usual reader-intrigue with a trip into history to provide the reader with a salient, viable parallel of Rostnikov's pursuit.
As his readers of this series have come to expect, Kaminsky is not content to have one plot (certainly not, when three or four others simultaneously will do!)carry the book. Rostnikov of the Moscow Metropolitan Police finds himself,once more, amid the political intrigue of Moscow while trying to sort out--and prosecute--labeled criminals! With his amiable assistants,
Russian criminals are far from safe. Karpov ("The Vampire") and Zelach are trying to find the kidnapped son of a local magnate.
The son is a disfranchised but popular local rock star known as the Cossack. Elena and Iosef (Rostnikov's son) are pursuing a serial murderer in the Moscow subway system); and Sasha Tkach, aside from trying to solve his own marital problems, is working with Rostnikov on the primary case here! A bit much?
A bit much? Confusing, perhaps? Not to this reader, who delights in Kaminsky's terse style, fantastic characterizations, incredible depth of perception of the Russia of today.
To say this book moves with the pace of a speeding freight train might strain the metaphor here, but regardless, Kaminsky maintains his control over the series (of which, one hopes, there will be many, many more episodes). An excellent read--hop on board and get set for a delightful journey! ...
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