When I got home after buying Tarnished Icons by Stuart Kaminsky (Ballantine) for our family's favourite viola teacher, I realized that I had the same tide in my pile of unread library books. So for a few days I had the luxury of never having to go up or down the stairs in search of my book—I just kept one copy on each floor.
Tarnished Icons is one of Kaminsky's Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov stories, which take place in Russia. Inspector Rostnikov is a Moscow police officer whose job of crime detection is complicated by hidden RGB agendas, shifting power struggles and, in the "new" Russia, increased crime and corruption. In his off-hours, Rostnikov fixes his neighbours' plumbing, finding relaxation in restoring the proper flow through the pipes of his apartment building.
The crimes he solves are not why I love this series. It's the daily life of the characters—where they live, what they eat, who they love—and of a changing Russia that keeps me on the lookout for another installment.