The Soviet Union’s crooks are gone, but for Chief Inspector Rostnikov & Co. the felonies linger on.
In Bitsevsky Park, a stocky, middle-aged man sits on a bench, seemingly impervious to wintry blasts. He’s been there five days in succession, notes 11-year-old Yuri Platkov. Bright and ever curious, Yuri approaches, puts a few questions, and so learns what followers of this long-running series (People Who Walk in Darkness, 2008, etc.) already know: Chief Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov’s crime-busting technique is distinctly idiosyncratic. The chief inspector has staked himself out to await the moment when the infamous Bitsevsky Maniac, an extremely busy, oft-sought serial killer, comes looking for him. Young Yuri, at first skeptical but then charmed, decides on the spot to become a police officer. Meanwhile, several colleagues in Rostnikov’s Office of Special Investigations draw assignments that smack of Russia’s westernization. Inspectors Elena Timofeyeva and Sasha Tkach, for instance, have been dispatched to bodyguard a slinky, sexy British reporter, in Russia to investigate a profitable, entrepreneurial, gangster-ridden prostitution ring. This whiff of the new wave aside, hardworking Moscow coppers find post–Soviet Union streets as mean as ever and crime only a whit less traditional.
Kaminsky’s distinguished series is always worth your time. Subplot sprawl, however, shoves Rostnikov too far from the center, and less of Rostnikov means a lesser entry.