cover image Hard Currency

Hard Currency

Stuart M. Kaminsky. Ballantine Books, $20 (247pp) ISBN 978-0-449-90725-2

From the uncertainties that bear in modern Russia, Kaminsky (Death of a Russian Priest) continues to craft his crisp and thoughtful series featuring Moscow police inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov and the enduring cast that comprises his team. Featured here are mainly the lame, bullish Rostnikov, who still torments his rigid superiors and spends his spare time reading American crime paperbacks, and his large, gaunt and emotionally guarded assistant, Emil Karpo. Rostnikov is in Cuba with his Spanish-speaking deputy Elena Timofeyeva where their delicate investigation of the murder charges filed against a Russian national points them toward a vengeful Santeria. In Moscow, Karpo, tracing a serial killer who has taken 40 victims, wonders whether the absence of a discernible pattern in the murders may be a pattern in itself. Karpo, confronting the psyche of a murderer, is brought face to face with the demons lurking beneath his own forbidding surface. Rostnikov, untangling complex political knots, acts on an unwise impulse and has an important encounter of his own. Unlike the Soviet Union, this marvelous series shows no signs of coming apart. (Feb.)