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BOOK
CSI: NY
Dead of Winter

Author: Stuart M. Kaminsky
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99
ISBN 1 4165 1105 9
Available 05 September 2005


On a bitter, snow laded, New York winters day two lives are unceremoniously snuffed out, murdered by, as yet, unknown killers. In a rich and exclusive apartment building on York Avenue, the body of Charles Lutnikov lays slumped in an elevator, shot through the heart, the only lamentation to mark his passing emanates from the lift door in which his leg is trapped. Across town Ed Taxx and Cliff Collier guard, Alberta, a mob floozy turned states witness, who has seen better days. Today will be her last day, she is found by her two guardians knifed in the neck, with only a small window as the possible point of entry. These two crimes have one thing in common, an almost complete lack of physical evidence which points to a killer. Can the CSI experts bring their skills to bear to discover the truth behind the crimes in time to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice?...

CSI: NY Dead of Winter is a new book by Edgar award winning author Stuart M. Kaminsky. Kaminsky has had a long, varied and successful career as the author of more than forty books, a lot of short stories and screen writer on various films including one of my favourites, Sergio Leone's Once upon a Time in America to which he contributed dialogue. So, no one can accuse him of being a lightweight then. His style of writing is eminently readable and a worthy addition to the run of Crime Scene Investigation original novels.

I guess it must be difficult to make, what would otherwise be quite a dull premise, interesting. Like comic books, or any genre that has certain formulaic restrictions, the detective novel is generally slaved to the structure of crime-evidence gathering-solution. Kaminsky shows that here he is in his element as the plot hammers on, never seeming stale or repetitive. On the down side he is, of course, limited by the canon of the show. For any fan of the show I'm sure that this will not present a restriction but a delight. I found that as a casual reader that there were just too many characters to take in and to follow.

From the point of the plot, the narrative does not presuppose prior knowledge of the show, as the murders and characters do not directly address anything especially in the show. This is both a strength and a weakness, in that, the novel can be taken as a very well constructed murder/mystery, whilst at the same time the sheer number of characters involved really requires knowledge of the show to indicate their relationships to each other. In this then, the book suffers from a lack of space to create and develop the main protagonists as individual characters; they end the story pretty much the way they began it.

So, a definite buy for any fans of the show from a master story teller, but for the casual reader it just might be a little over packed with characters, making it difficult to follow at times.

Charles Packer

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