April 25, 2008

Retribution ***

*** Retribution, Stuart Kaminsky, 2002

I twigged to Kaminsky back in the 80s with the Inspector Rostnikov series, the story of a Moscow police inspector who has to tread the delicate dance of Soviet politics to avoid Siberia or worse while solving crimes. Those are three and four star books. I followed the series through the breakup of the USSR and the new politics of mafia and gangs. It's a fascinating, incredibly well-written series, an example of taking the whodunit to the literary level.

So when I saw a Kaminsky novel while digging around through the bargain stacks, I snatched it up. Retribution, the second in the Lew Fonesca series, makes it clear that Kaminsky has not lost his touch.

Last year I started reading while working out on a NordicTrack elliptical. Reading while working out really tests the quality of a book. The workout, 40-60 minutes of steady, heart-pumping effort, is unpleasant enough. The book has to engage me to the point that I forget I'm working out. That's a tough standard. I'm not as forgiving of lazy writing when I'm sweating and gasping and looking for something to take me away from it. I keep a stack of books nearby because I am known to toss books that fail the workout test across the room.

Retribution not only made the workout endurable, it engaged me to the point that I went past the hour without realizing it. Now that's some engaging writing!

Highly recommended.

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