cover image Blood and Rubles

Blood and Rubles

Stuart M. Kaminsky. Ballantine Books, $21 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-449-90949-2

Kaminsky excels each time he enters the harshness of post-Cold War Russia, a politically and socially volatile world where his Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov is a rarity among policeman: shrewd, utterly incorruptible and destined to survive each complex political shift. As in previous Rostnikov works, including the Edgar-winning A Cold Red Sunrise, the inspector's team has several cases to crack--and, as always, Russian society itself is as much an adversary as the assembled criminals. A gang of tattooed Mafia killers stage a shoot-out that claims the life of a prostitute, the only human to break through the robotic exterior of Emil Karpo, Rostnikov's loyal assistant; three young boys are robbing and killing on the streets; a cache of valuable artifacts vanishes; and the ruthless cunning of a wealthy couple is put to the test in the aftermath of a kidnapping attempt. Fortified by his love for weight lifting, Ed McBain novels, Russian plumbing and American pizza, the rotund Rostnikov perseveres, strong as a bull, lame in one leg and quite clearly nobody's fool. (Feb.)