Stuart M. Kaminsky, Mystery writer and Film professor, Died at 75

  Dead Famous

Dead, Stuart M. Kaminsky on October 9, 2009 at the age of 75, he was an American mystery writer and film professor.

Born on September 29, 1934, He is known for three long-running series of mystery novels featuring the protagonists Toby Peters, a private detective in 1940s Hollywood; Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov, a Moscow police inspector; and veteran Chicago police officer Abe Lieberman.

The author of more than 60 crime novels, Mr. Kaminsky typically wrote two or more books a year.

A past president of the Mystery Writers of America, he was named a Grand Master, the organization’s highest honour, in 2006. Reviewing the novel in The New York Times Book Review, Harold C. Schonberg, writing as Newgate Callendar, called it “good, clean fun,” adding: “When the film buffs finish reading it, there will not be a dry eye in the house.”

A philosophical Moscow police detective, Porfiry Rostnikov is a lone wolf who adores — covertly — the crime novels of Ed McBain. The series, which takes Rostnikov from the Soviet era to the present, includes “Death of a Dissident” (Ace Books, 1981), “Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express” (Mysterious Press, 2001) and “A Cold Red Sunrise” (Scribner’s, 1988), for which Mr. Kaminsky won an Edgar Award in 1989.

Kaminsky’s first marriage, to Merle Gordon, ended in divorce. Besides his wife, Ms. Perll, whom he married in 1987, he is survived by his mother, Dorothy Kaminsky; a sister, Sara Rashkow; two sons and a daughter from his first marriage, Peter, Toby and Lucy Kaminsky; a daughter, Natasha Kaminsky, from his marriage to Ms. Perll; and three grandchildren.

Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky’s first novel featuring the Moscow police inspector Porfiry Rostnikov, was published in 1981, coincidentally just after Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park. As a paperback original, it was lost in that book’s acclaim, but one of the later Rostnikov novels, A Cold Red Sunrise, won the 1989 Edgar award.

They were written entirely from research. When Kaminsky finally visited Russia in the 1990s, he took great pleasure in being introduced at a journalists’ lunch as “the man who knows more about this city than any of us sitting here”.

The 16th Rostnikov novel, A Whisper to the Living, is due to be published next year.

The Siegel connection led Kaminsky to work with Sergio Leone on the Italian director’s final film, the gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984), for which Kaminsky wrote the English dialogue.

In the 1980s he published his only two non-series novels: When the Dark Man Calls (1983) became the French film Fréquence Meurtre (1988), starring Catherine Deneuve, and was remade as a TV movie in 1995, while Exercise in Terror (1985) was filmed as Hidden Fears (1993).

He also wrote screenplays for Enemy Territory (1987) and Woman in the Wind (1990).