cover image Rostnikov's Vacation: An Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov Novel

Rostnikov's Vacation: An Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov Novel

Stuart M. Kaminsky. Scribner Book Company, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19022-8

The central element of this seventh in a series (including 1988's Edgar-winning A Cold Red Sunrise ) pits the wise, humane, brave Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov against proto-Stalinist bureaucrats in the KGB, MVD and GRU who seem to be plotting to assassinate Grobachev and other reformers, with the blame to be put on the CIA. Quite aside from the cliched nature of the plot, the novel is highly manipulative, borrowing Hollywood's jump-cut technique to fracture the story into short takes that leave the reader mystified as to who's doing what to whom and why. The recently demoted Porfiry has been ordered to take a vacation. Accompanying his wife, who is recovering from brain surgery, to Yalta, he becomes involved in investigating the murder of another senior investigator. Meanwhile, back in Moscow, Porfiry's associate Emil Karpo is also ordered on vacation, although he's closing in on a flaky teenage killer who is being egged on by a purported American whose lures include drugs and promises of Madonna records and a fling in Las Vegas. The background of misery, seediness and anti-Semitism as a byproduct of perestroika reflects today's headlines, but the story, although entertaining, strains credibility. (Oct.)