With his wife in the hospital, Porfiry Rostnikov tries to protect Moscow from chaos.
Porfiry and Sarah Rostnikov have been in love since the end of World War II, growing old together as the Soviet Union lurches towards modernity. Sarah is recovering from a brain operation, her police inspector husband at her side, when a bearlike man staggers into her hospital room. Hulking, naked, and insensible, he is about to leap out the window when Rostnikov talks him off the ledge. But before the orderlies take him away, the giant whispers a secret to the investigator. Someone has been stealing from the factory where he works.
As he puzzles over the colossal madman’s clue, Rostnikov must also focus on his colleagues in the Moscow police, as their team contends with a sudden jump in crime. Rebels are planting bombs, teenagers are plotting assassinations, and the KGB lurks in every shadow. Surviving all this without Sarah by his side will be a challenge for the limping policeman, but he has long proven adept at talking down the Russian bear.
Would you consider the audio edition of The Man Who Walked Like a Bear to be better than the print version?
I haven't read the print edition, so the question is not useful. But I will say, as above, that I just love Stuart Kaminsky. This book is twenty six years old now, and Mr. Kaminsky is either old or deceased, but whichever, he is one of the most prolific and creative authors we have. His ability to continue to write several series simultaneously is astounding. Everyone has his or her favorite, but the stories about Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov are completely satisfying. The familiar cast of characters, Sasha Tkach, Emil Karpo, Sarah Rostnikov, etc,: all of these are flesh and blood human beings about whom Mr. Kaminsky writes with love, suspense, an intimate understanding of the USSR and the politics of the NVD and the KGB and the other law enforcers. I am in awe of the kind of production of high quality work that Mr. Kaminsky creates. This narrator was fine, too, but the writing is so good as to be up there with the great authors in this genre.
What did you like best about this story?
There are so many things and people to like in this work, it really is impossible to focus on one. Our hero, Rostnikov, is one of the most satisfying characters I have ever known. Yes, I feel as if I know him. He works his way through the baroque, dangerous political world of Moscow and its police and secret service organizations, with quiet humor and a purely human quality of simultaneous resignation and hope. He is a father to his staff, and to his son Josip, and a husband to Sarah; he is an investigator of homicides; he is a plumber for his neighbors in a typical falling-down Moscow apartment building; and he is seriously disabled from being wounded in the leg during WWII. I could keep reading about him forever, but somehow I fear that that will not happen.
Which character – as performed by John McLain – was your favorite?
Again, Rostnikov. I had not heard Mr. McLain perform before, but he did an excellent job here, dealing with very complicated and intricate situations and bureaucracies. He is quite talented.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
You are not a warm person if the very ending of this book does not move you very close to tears. It is worth waiting for.
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