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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2002
The sixth in Kaminsky's Porfiry Rostnikov series, THE MAN WHO WALKED LIKE A BEAR is a good one to get a sense of what the series is like: Rostnikov draws diagrams of potential plumbing problems and lifts weights when he's not absorbed in a case; Emil Karpo is bothered by migraine headaches and some six hundred unsolved cases he refuses to give up on; Sasha Tkach is having trouble with his mother interfering with his family life.
All of this is a backdrop to Kaminsky's 87th Precinct style mystery. Kaminsky hints at the influence by having Rostnikov carry around an Ed McBain novel as he pursues various leads.
The title refers to an apparent mental patient who interrupts Rostnikov's visit to his wife Sarah's hospital room, where she's recuperating from a brain tumor operation. The man is naked and ranting about devils invading the shoe factory where he works. Rostnikov decides to investigate. A second case deals with a woman complaining that her son is about to assassinate a Politburo member. A third has to do with the disappearance of Bus 43 and its driver Boris Trush.
All of these threads occur prior to the dissolution of the USSR, during the time of Gorbachev and glasnost. Any case involving the Politburo is dangerous territory for Rostnikov and crew. This is exacerbated when the reader realizes "The Washtub" is being tracked by the KGB.
I was so looking forward to another Rostnikov novel that I inadvertently read this one a second time. You'd think I would've remembered that title.
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VINE VOICEon August 24, 2006
In this latest installment of the series, Porfiry is visiting Sarah in the hospital as she is recovering from brain surgery. A mental patient breaks into the room who, "walks like a bear" and whispers a secret to Porfiry. Sasha is working on a case where he is looking for a bus driver, who has 'gotten drunk' and parked his bus somewhere. Karpo is looking into a suggestion from a frightened woman that her son is going to kill a Poliburo member.

This book gives us a lot of personal insight into Rostnikov, Karpo and Tchach. Porfiry is working to turn his boss, the 'grey wolfhound' from a manikin back into a respected policeman. This is a two edged sword because, though he will be rewarded (his boss) he will come to the attention of people who might want to do him harm. Porfiry is walking a fine line with the KGB once again, but seems to have everything well in hand.

Sasha bus and busdriver have been kidnapped by Turkistani separatists who want to use it to blow up Lenin's Masoleum (this is the second time we've seen this one). Sasha also has to deal with telling his mother that he and Maya don't want her moving with them to the new apartment.

Karpo is disturbed that after meeting the young man (who is dating the Poliburoman's daughter), that he is 'emotionally' involved in the problem. This being so new to him he has to go talk with Porfiry about it, like it was a disease. Karpo is so upset that he actually goes to see his girlfriend/prostitute a week early because he feels in the need of companionship. Porfiry tells him to forget it, it will pass like a mild cold.

All in all I enjoyed this one more than 'A Cold Red Sunrise' for which Kaminsky won an Edgar. Go figure.
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on February 28, 2002
In his Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov series, Stuart Kamisky has deftly transplanted the McBain 87th Precinct police procedural to Soviet Russia. Chief Inspector Rostnikov is frequently reported to be carrying or reading an old copy of one of McBain's works and often refers to some of the characters. And as with the 87th Precinct, there are individual detectives, each with his own back stories, investigating different cases. This time out their Office of Special Investigations is looking into a possible murder plot against a member of the Politburo, the disappearance of a bus driver and his bus and, of course, a mysterious mental patient who "walks like a bear."
Kaminsky leaves me wanting to know what happens to these guys and their families as the Soviet Union disintegrates. This was my first encounter and I have ordered more of the series. I am eagerly awaiting reading them!
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on December 30, 2011
This is the second book of the series I've read. The first, A Cold Red Sunrise, won an Edgar award but in my estimation isn't as good as this book. True to its genre it is an easy read, moderately paced with sufficient clues to keep turning the page. I guessed incorrectly about the conclusion which would indicate I missed a clue or a false trail was written into the plot. Though I enjoyed the read I kept a mind's eye open for a Chekhov Gun failure, which appeared toward the end. It seems that Kaminsky weaves several disconnected strands of plot into his books and then fails to connect or clean up these strands to make a cohesive whole, a resolution to the story. This is a major flaw, though most likely acceptable if not entertaining for this genre. There is sufficient entertainment in this effort and I believe that if the Kaminsky Estate would price these books at the Kindle level of $3-4 a new found audience for his works would appear. My rating is based on the book's comparison with similar efforts in the genre.
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on December 30, 2015
How many Inspector Rostnikov novels--15? 20?--and there will be no more, because the author passed away in 2009, with A Whisper to the Living being published posthumously. I have read these works on and off for the past twelve years or so, after having visited post-Communist Russia twice. It is a haunting place, incredibly harsh and alive. The people are gruff but have hearts of gold. I think of my experiences there almost daily even now. Kaminsky's novels bring it all back so vividly. I recently purchased the rest of the set on Amazon, and read all of them in chronological order. I highly recommend you do the same. No one of them stands out for me--I take them together, as a kind of extended novel, a slice of Russian life,best savored with some borscht, sausage and pelmeni, on a chill winter's evening.
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on December 18, 2011
As always, Karminsky delivered another highly enjoyable novel with Rostnikov and his team. Everything is not what you think it should be and is only revealed at the very end. All the mysteries fall into tracks nicely. Anther wonderfule read from Kaminsky. Highly recommended.
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on September 4, 2014
Kaminsky's people, as always, are unique, multi-dimensional people who develop along with the series. The story, too, is unique, and could have happened nowhere but in Russia. Kaminsky's Russian series are an education, as well as a delight.
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on July 26, 2010
I love Kaminsky's Russian series. I learn phrases in Russian and have gotten to love the characters. You definitely have to read these in order to get the true flavor of Porfiry Rostnikov and his cohorts. Good read.
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on December 25, 2014
All of Mr. Kamisky's books are excellent
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