Kaminsky's Moscow is a haphazard place. Communism is defunct, and democracy should be having its day, but if you ask Chief Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov (Hard Currency, 1995, etc.), nothing substantive has changed. Corruption in high places is still as prevalent as the potholes in a Moscow street. True, there are some new gangs around to profit from it--mafias, they like to call themselves--that conduct business somewhat differently than did the old Soviets in their churlish prime: the new are uglier and decidedly more prone to violence. And so are the spectator sports. Dogfighting to the death, for instance, takes place as crowds roar approval and much money changes hands. Still, for Rostnikov and his elite Special Investigative Squad, the job is what it's always been--chasing criminals relentlessly and never, ever pausing to question the value of the effort involved. No, not even when it's gangsters killing gangsters (which may have a certain perverse upside). Not even then, because good coppers don't allow themselves to be sidetracked. And if the good copper's private life is threatening to careen from troubled to tragic, that life and the job must be stowed everlastingly in their own separate, watertight compartments. As usual, Kaminsky manages to make the postlapsarian fracas strangely engrossing. His major characters are vivid and varied; his walk-ons have a way of lingering in the mind. For Kaminsky, the devil is never in the details. Good storytelling in yet another of a distinguished series.