Alexandra Marinina Bibliography Sample

Henning Mankell's recent series of police procedurals set in the southern Swedish town of Ystad, with the inspector Kurt Wallander as their hero, is the exemplary case of the fate of the detective novel in our era of global capitalism.

The main effect of globalisation on the detective fiction is discernible in its dialectical counterpart: the powerful reemergence of a specific locale as the story's setting - a particular provincial environment. In a global world, a detective story can take place almost literally ANYWHERE: there are today detective series taking place in the Native American reservations in the US, in the industrial Ruhr area of Germany, in Venice and Florence, in Iceland, in Brezhnev's or Yeltsin's Russia, even in today's Tibet (James Pattison's series with the Chinese police inspector exiled there for political reasons as a hero). History also poses no limitations: the "golden" 1880's of the tsarist Russia in St. Petersburg, Julies Ceasar's Rome, Alexander the Great's court... There is, of course, in the history of detective fiction, a long tradition of eccentric locales (recall Robert van Gulik's series taking place in ancient imperial China; even one of Agatha Christie's novels - Death Comes at the End - is set in the ancient Egypt of the pharaohs). However, these settings clearly had the status of eccentric exceptions, this status was part of their appeal which relied on the distance towards the paradigmatic locations (London and the English countryside for the classic whodunit; Los Angeles or New York for the hard-boiled novel...).

Today, the exception (eccentric locale) is the rule - in contrast to the classic XXth century modernism, the global stance no longer needs to be asserted in the guise of a direct cosmopolitanism or participation in the global americanized culture. A true global citizen is today precisely the one who (re)discovers or returns to (or identifies with) some particular roots, some specific substantial communal identity - the "global order" is ultimately nothing but the very frame and container of this mixing and shifting multitude of particular identities.

Of course, internal differences are immediately perceptible in this field of the global detective story, the main being the opposition between foreigners writing about a certain locale and "natives" directly writing about their own environs. This opposition does not necessarily overlap with the opposition between amusement and "serious" art, since some "local" authors clearly write unpretentious bestsellers (like Aleksandra Marinina's novels set in today's Moscow), while many "foreigners" put great effort in "understanding" the specific locale, and even try to impart on their novels a "deeper" ecological, socio-critical, or even "spiritual" dimension (recall the rather boring and pretentious evocation of the Tibetan spirituality in James Pattison's The Skull Mantra). Maybe, the novels written by a foreigner with a critical-spiritual engagement are the worst of this genre, much more ideological than direct amusement: their spiritual pretensions and solidarity with the "natives" is clearly the obverse of an intensely patronising racism.

One can easily see how Mankell fits into this formula, and why his novels exert such an appeal: everything seemed to contrive to predestine him for the role of the "true artist." The specific color that the locale of his novels brings in is the Scandinavian one with all the existentialist-depressive connotations best encapsulated in the name of Ingmar Bergman (and, as a curiosity, Mankell effectively is married to Bergman's daughter!). No wonder that his formula of "police procedurals in Bergmanland" abounds with the topics of meaningless outbursts of violence, often suicidal one, miserable disappointments in love life, late middle-life crises and depressions, ridiculous failures of communication, all this staged in the expected "objective correlative" of Scandinavian bleak countryside with its windy rain, opressive grey clouds and mist, dark winter days... Wallander himself is an often depressed and slightly overweight diabetic in his late 40s who suffers regular panic attacks, divorced and with a confused emotional life; in Before the Frost, the last novel (not yet translated into English), he is joined by his daughter Lisa who, after a troubled youth, also becomes a police investigator. Are we then dealing with the case of the ultimate manipulation where the Bergmanesque setting evocative of high art is used to add a specific spice to and thus enhance the attraction of the detective formula?

Mankell does not play the game of someone like Friedrich Duerenmatt who subverts the detective formula: Duerenmatt's novel starts as a detective story and then takes a non-formulaic twist (a murderer is simply not found; the confrontation with the murderer turns into a politico-existential debate; etc.). Mankell respects the formula: at the end of his novels, the murderer is discovered, apprehended and condemned; what he does is close to what, in his seminal essay "On Raymond Chandler," Fredric Jameson described as Chandler's procedure: the writer uses the formula of the detective story (detective's investigation which brings him into the contact with all strata of life) as a frame which allows him to fill in the concrete texture with social and psychological apercus, plastic character-portraits and insights into life tragedies. The properly dialectical paradox not to be missed here is that it would be wrong to say: "So why did the writer not drop this very form and give us pure art?" This complaint falls victim to a kind of perspective illusion: it overlooks that, if we were to drop the formulaic frame, we would lose the very "artistic" content that this frame apparently distorts. One cannot but recall here G.K. Chesterton who, in his Orthodoxy, provided a very unorthodox account of the relationship between paganism and Christianity:

A Little Nostalgia: The Detective Novels of Alexandra Marinina

Elena Baraban, University of Manitoba*

Old Songs about the Main Things. In December 2002, Russkoe Radio-2, a station that broadcasts songs of the Soviet era, celebrated the year of its work with a party advertised as "Our Motherland is the USSR!" Appetizers served featured such hits of "Soviet cuisine" as Olivie salad, salami, spiced vodka, and stewed pears. Guests older than thirty immediately plunged into a state of nostalgia for the good old days. In the end of the celebration, each guest received as a gift a can of sardines, a can of caviar, Odessa smoked sausage, a can of peas, a bottle of Stolichnaya, and a marinated herring. The food that used to symbolize Soviet well-being was packed in a long forgotten net bag (avos'ka). Previously considered so depressingly Soviet and therefore unwanted, the avos'ka was a welcome accessory in 2002: a lady wearing a mink coat proudly tossed her stylish purse into her avos'ka and, laughing, put the "treasure" onto the back seat of her Volvo.1

The popularity of Russkoe Radio-2 and of other radio stations airing an old Soviet repertoire2 is only one manifestation of nostalgia.3 The sentiment that developed by the middle of the 1990s became contested by different social groups and has been expressed by a variety of cultural forms. In this article, I explore the ways in which nostalgia for the Soviet past has affected post-Soviet detective fiction, the most popular literary genre in the 1990s. Through my analysis of the mysteries by the popular writer Alexandra Marinina, I intend to show that rather than being an expression of craving for a comeback of Stalinism, post-Soviet nostalgia may be an attempt at creating cultural continuity and incorporating the cultural memory of the Soviet past into the present.

Post-Soviet nostalgia as part of Russia's attempt to reconstruct its identity, to make sense of Russia's present through rethinking its past, and to conquer time, which had spun out of control since perestroika, fits into a larger cultural and political phenomenon that Andreas Huyssen describes as "present pasts." Huyssen writes: "One of the most surprising cultural and political phenomena of the 1990s has been the emergence of memory as a key cultural and political concern in Western societies. This turning toward the past stands in stark contrast to the privileging of the future so characteristic of earlier decades of twentieth-century modernity. Modernist culture was energized by what one might call 'present futures.' Since the 1980s, it seems, the focus has shifted from present futures to present pasts, and this shift in the experience and sensibility of time needs to be explained historically."4 In Russia, which used to be in the avant-garde of the utopian aspirations of the twentieth century, the turn to the past is especially dramatic. The political, cultural, and social significance of post-Soviet revisiting and rewriting history with nostalgia has compelled scholars to explore this sentiment in works of literature, film, architecture, memoir, and other forms of cultural production. In The Future of Nostalgia, cultural historian Svetlana Boym proposes to differentiate between two kinds of nostalgia: restorative and reflective. Restorative nostalgia evokes national past and future and is focused on the recovery and preservation of what is perceived to be an absolute truth. Reflective nostalgia is focused on the individualized meditation on history and suggests flexibility, an individual narrative, and cherishing shattered fragments of memory. While restorative nostalgia takes itself "dead seriously," reflective nostalgia "can be ironic and humorous. It reveals that longing and critical thinking are not opposed to one another, as affective memories do not absolve one from compassion, judgment or critical reflection."5

Our understanding of restorative and reflective nostalgia would be incomplete without analyzing various ways of expressing nostalgia. Ways of expressing this sentiment range from replaying and reproducing works of the past in the new historical period, creating pastiche and parody of the old works, and reworking the familiar old values in new works.

In the publishing industry of the 1990s, the phenomenon that would correspond to nostalgia-driven radio stations was the practice of reprinting old Soviet detective novels. Leading private publishing houses such as EKSMO and Vagrius reprinted works by such renowned authors of the Soviet period as the brothers Vainer, Olga and Alexander Lavrov, and Nikolai Leonov. In comparison with the slaughter described in contemporary Russian hard-boiled detective novels, the crimes in Soviet detective fiction seem minor.6 For instance, the Lavrovs' detektivy depict the stealing of meat from a restaurant; the setting on fire of a warehouse to cover up the theft of goods; the buying of stolen diamonds; and the intended smuggling of an old painting out of the country.7 In the turbulent 1990s, the opening of the detective story "A 'Bouquet' at the Reception" by the Lavrovs8 reads like a fairy tale: the duty-room at 38 Petrovka beckons one to take a short nap or amuse oneself with something in between calls; Znamenskii and Tomin are bored, Kibrit is knitting. As Russian TV channels reran Vladimir Brovkin's TV series Sledstvie vedut znatoki (The Experts Conduct the Investigation), based on the Lavrovs' stories,9 the catchy song launching each episode highlighted the impression of a safe Soviet society with a low crime rate. The song reassured the viewers that crimes occur in the Soviet Union only occasionally and only in some places, and that they are committed only by people who for some reason do not wish to live honestly. The song also conveyed that the police were reliable guardians of honest citizens because they never slept and were on duty day and night.10

Unlike Olga and Alexander Lavrov, who appeal directly to nostalgia for the "good old Soviet days" in the introduction to the reprints of their novels,11 other detective fiction written in the 1990s expresses nostalgia for the Soviet past in a more complex way. In the sections that follow, I analyze the ways in which nostalgia is addressed by Alexandra Marinina, the author of more than twenty mysteries, which were widely read in the second half of the 1990s.

Alexandra Marinina is the pen name of Marina Alexeeva, a retired police lieutenant colonel and lawyer. In 1998-99, Marinina was called a "popularity contest winner among Russian writers of detective fiction," "a Russian Agatha Christie," and "the queen of the Russian detektiv."12 Marinina outstripped the popularity of Viktor Dotsenko, Andrei Konstantinov, and Friedrikh Neznanskii, authors of the Russian hard-boiled detective novels (krutye detektivy) and action thrillers (boeviki). In the 1990s, most people knew the name of Marinina.13 Although in the past few years her star has started to fade, the history of Russian popular culture in the 1990s cannot be told without Marinina, any more than the story of Russian popular culture of the 1970s and 1980s can omit Vladimir Vysotskii and Alla Pugacheva, or Arkadii Raikin and the TV series Seventeen Moments in Spring.

I argue that Marinina's novels, while interpreting the flow of events and images triggered by the demise of the Soviet Union, ethnic conflicts, and shifts in politics and economics, respond to the accelerated life of time in the 1990s with nostalgia for the Soviet past.14 Marinina reads the present through the lenses of the past while rediscovering some positive values in it that help sustain her heroes in present-day Russia.15 The sentiment of nostalgia is a defining factor underlying the structure and characterization in Marinina's mysteries. I argue that Marinina's mysteries combine elements of classical mysteries, hard-boiled detective novels, and Soviet detektivy in a way that is best suited for the expression of nostalgia for the Soviet past. I approach the discussion of nostalgia by analyzing Marinina's plots, her choice of victims and criminals, and her strategies in portraying the protagonists.

A Mystery of the 1990s. Alexandra Marinina's intellectual and largely nonviolent mysteries are written in the tradition of European mysteries in that they present a crime primarily as a logical puzzle that is solved by the intellect rather than the physical power of a detective.16 Most of Marinina's books are about a gifted female detective, Anastasia Kamenskaia, who unravels the most intricate mysteries in Moscow, and sometimes in the Russian hinterland, without ever firing a gun. Kamenskaia resembles other famous Western detectives in her deductive abilities.17 Like Sherlock Holmes, who, as a calculating machine, is devoid of a complex character, Kamenskaia is an intellectual powerhouse whose only passion is to solve crime puzzles. She insists that she is not a woman but a "computer on two legs."18 She is neiarkaia (nondescript) and nebroskaia (inconspicuous); she is a "gray mouse" and one can pass past her "ten times without actually noticing her." She hardly ever uses makeup; she applies it only occasionally, either giving in to the pleading of her devoted boyfriend and future husband, Lesha, or when it is required during an investigation. Nastia's laziness, reminiscent of Mycroft Holmes's, is proverbial among her peers. Even her work looks "like idling in the office" (Coincidence 34). When she starts working at 38 Petrovka, the headquarters of the Moscow police, Major Kamenskaia is described by malicious tongues as "a blue blood" who "does not take part in surveillance, chase criminals, penetrate criminal gangs. She just sits in her warm office sipping coffee and pretends she's the great Nero Wolfe!" (Coincidence 33).

However, apart from the characteristics that Marinina's books share with classical mysteries, a number of elements relate Marinina to the tradition of hard-boiled detective fiction. Marinina depicts investigation as being "constantly complicated by the milieu," by the existing social order and "social divisions.19" Whereas European mysteries describe crimes as occasional violations of the habitual and overall just order,20 Marinina's novels depict an unjust world in which gangsters can occupy high posts in society and in which the secret services may act against citizens of the country. The outrage felt at the increase in crime permeates Marinina's books. In the novel Ne meshaite palachu (Stay Out of the Hangman's Game), Nastia Kamenskaia observes that at one time there were three or four murders per week in Moscow, but now there are seven to eight daily.21 In a fit of black humor, Nastia's colleague Yura Korotkov says that he bribes forensic specialists to make a priority of a corpse he needs: "Think of how the times change! Before, the living were lining up to buy Finnish boots and salami, now the dead are lining up for an autopsy.� Sometimes I think that our life is gradually sliding into a non-stop nightmare" (Stay Out 246). The fact that contemporary Russia seems like a criminal nightmare even to detectives does not inspire optimism. Rather, the comparison of this "nightmare" with the peaceful (no matter how tedious) past is meant to evoke nostalgia: everyone would prefer to queue for a pair of boots rather than to be in line for an autopsy.

The pessimism regarding Russia's current state is aggravated because police are sometimes portrayed as powerless to the point that Kamenskaia has to use the help of the Mafia leader Eduard Denisov, as is the case in The Unwilling Murderer and Away Game.22 Sometimes, she has to track criminals among the police and even amongst her colleagues at 38 Petrovka (Specter of Music). In the novel Stay Out of the Hangman's Game, Kamenskaia muses: "Today, in order to bribe a policemen, one has to do very little" (314). Honest policemen are exceptions, while many policemen on duty immediately head off to "small businesses to collect 'a tax'" (314). In the novel Ukradennyi son (Stolen Dream), Nastia and her supervisor Gordeev cannot trust any members of their department, for one of their colleagues is a traitor who works for the Mafia.23 The Mafia is able to recruit police officers as well as to train "their own" people over many years in the colleges for detectives and lawyers.

Although not as often as authors of krutye detektivy, Marinina sometimes introduces plots in which the main criminals remain free while the police catch only small fry. For example, at the end of the novel Death for the Sake of Death,24 the main criminals, namely, the Russian Federal Secret Services, are not brought to book. The novel ends on a pessimistic note, suggesting that Russians are hostages to a criminal state. In the novel Coincidence, it is made clear that the hit man traced by Anastasia Kamenskaia is only one of many who serve the criminal high-rank officials commissioning murders. In a brilliant depiction of the psychological battle between Kamenskaia and the hit man, the narrator conveys respect for the unlucky man. Although inspiring awe, he is definitely portrayed with sympathy. Being a hit man in Russia, according to Marinina, is nothing more than a peculiar occupation. In the novel Shesterki umiraiut pervymi (Flunkies Die First), the real criminals who hire assassins remain in the shadows.25 The novel ends with the death of a girl who wanted to work as a hit woman. Most of Marinina's novels featuring crimes based on social causes portray evil and criminal activity as elements that can never be eliminated.

Unlike Soviet mysteries that promote the belief that crime will gradually disappear from the socialist society and that criminals may be rehabilitated and reformed into good citizens, Marinina's novels offer a more realistic depiction of the criminal world. Furthermore, whereas the Soviet detektiv maintained that criminals are amoral people with serious defects in upbringing, Marinina offers a somewhat cynical classification of the criminal and noncriminal worlds. According to Nastia, "criminals are not necessarily the worst part of the population, and the police are not the best part of the population" (Stay Out 324). Indeed, talented people do not want to work for the underpaid police, but "naturally aspire to use their expertise and abilities" where they are paid well (Stay Out 324). In Marinina's mysteries, a policeman is no longer automatically a good character and a criminal is not necessarily a negative character. Marinina has captured the atmosphere of bespredel (absolute license) in Russia. Similar to the way in which U.S. American detective fiction was inspired by the troubled reality of the 1920s and 1930s,26 Russian detective novels since glasnost have portrayed a troubled social reality, breaking down the walls of the tradition of the Soviet detektiv with its ideologically glossed depictions of crime. The Soviet detective novel had a utopian quality because it offered an incomplete picture of crime in Soviet society, treating crime as an utter anomaly that could be rooted out through socialist education. The utopia of Marinina's detektivy is that she depicts ideal detectives who, honest and uncorrupt, are ready to work even without pay.

Marinina offers a peculiar combination of the genre features of a mystery and a hard-boiled detective story. On the one hand, her novels are socially engaged, abound in realistic detail, and depict a panorama of crime typical of a detective thriller. On the other hand, her heroine, Kamenskaia, deals with crime as if it were a routine affair. To her, crime is an anomaly that occurs in an otherwise healthy and stable society-an approach typical of European classical mysteries and the Soviet tradition of detective fiction. Unlike the characters in krutye detektivy, who protest against the current order and strive for a radical change in society, Kamenskaia bows to the existing social order, although she does not like it. Her actions are akin to a painkiller addressing the symptoms but not the causes of the illness. She simply goes to work every day because she enjoys solving crime puzzles. She accomplishes the specific tasks assigned to her by her boss, who, in turn, only follows the orders of his superiors without taking responsibility for the whole society, as is done by the protagonists of hard-boiled detective novels. Kamenskaia advocates a nonviolent and legal way of dealing with corruption and the loss of social guidelines. Unlike the eager and violent heroes of the hard-boiled school, Kamenskaia is remarkably low-key.

The fact that Kamenskaia is remarkably nonheroic (nikakaia, as Marinina's readers describe her), although she functions in a society whose values she criticizes, is of crucial importance for understanding the phenomenon of post-Soviet nostalgia. Whereas the heroes of thrillers perceive injustice, widespread crime, and instability as opportunities to display courage, virtue, and superiority in their fight for a better world, Kamenskaia perceives the injustice and instability in Russia as failings that she cannot change by herself. She therefore yearns for a world in which there are no such failings or in which the failings are manageable. The perception of the current lawlessness (bespredel) in Russia as a failing triggers nostalgia for the Soviet past. Marinina's strategy in depicting characters, her choice of heroes, antiheroes, victims, and criminals, connects her detective novels to Soviet culture. In the past, the values professed by Marinina have often been criticized; since the 1990s, however, they have been readily absorbed into popular entertainment. Like the fiction of Soviet times, Marinina's mysteries romanticize inconspicuousness, modesty, and collectivism while criticizing wealth and individualism.

Romanticizing the Inconspicuous. Marinina's "gray" inconspicuous heroine has no taste for sensational crimes. While Holmes, Poirot, and the female detectives in Agatha Christie's novels investigate sensational crimes and stress their exceptional nature, Kamenskaia works modestly as a major and then as a lieutenant colonel of the Moscow police. She takes on the cases that her superiors tell her to investigate; she neither has nor wants the liberty to pick and choose a task that would match her intellectual ability. While the crimes she investigates are always very unusual, complex, and intricate, they are presented to the reader from Nastia's point of view as a "little puzzle" (zadachka), a job, routine work. She does not act like a sleuth, but is one, and does not beam with excitement when hot on the trail. She does not consider her work heroic. It is just "her job," just as teaching math is the occupation of her husband Lesha. She is ultimately an ordinary person, prosto Nastia, not a James Bond, who is bored when he is not on a mission that matches his ego.

Unlike the superheroes of action thrillers, Nastia neglects her body. She does not work out, does not allow her body to expect "any help from her" (Stay Out 208). She can hardly "drag herself up" in the morning (Coincidence 19), never goes jogging, has backaches, and does not know how to shoot a pistol. She cannot go for more than two hours without a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Repetition of these features in many novels attests to a conscious depiction of Kamenskaia as a passive figure, an inactive sleuth.

The question is: Why did Kamenskaia look so attractive to readers in the mid-1990s? The answer to this question lies in the fact that an ordinary, everyday person became more attractive than the sensational femme fatale. It seems that writers and film directors of the end of the 1990s sensed the surfeit of the Russian reader and viewer fed up with scandalous revelations and bored with the actions of banal characters, who, when they multiplied, stopped being noticed and formed a somewhat vulgar background. To illustrate this point, let us examine the heroes who were popular in Russia during perestroika and in the early 1990s. The acting history of Yelena Yakovleva, who played the part of Kamenskaia in the popular TV series Kamenskaia (1999-2003), directed by Iuri Moroz and produced by Valerii Todorovskii, provides a good insight into the world of popular culture in contemporary Russia. Her two most important roles in cinema and on television have become milestones in the development of Russian popular characters. In 1988, during perestroika, Yakovleva had starred in Petr Todorovskii's Intergirl, a film based on the novel by Vladimir Kunin. She became famous playing a bright, scandalous prostitute attending to the sexual needs of foreign tourists in Leningrad-a role that shocked the Soviet viewer. Her role was so unlike the puritanical, bleak female characters filling the screens of late Soviet times. A decade later, Yelena Yakovleva starred as Kamenskaia in Iurii Moroz's television series. It is symbolic that the same actress would become a great success as a female detective who is "gray" and patently lacking sex appeal, but otherwise outstanding, original, and attractive amid the mob of boring, garishly dressed, and totally uninteresting prostitutes that proliferated in mass culture of the 1990s.

In the novel Somebody Else's Mask,27 Marinina tells the story of Irina Novikova, a prostitute hired to play the role of the wife of a prominent politician whose real wife has been murdered. Irina dreams about family happiness, which to her consists of an intimate family dinner in the kitchen rather than hosting guests in the dining room. To her, a vacuum cleaner sounds like an orchestra and to cook something for her husband means ecstasy. Irina's attraction to the simple joys stems from her experiences as a prostitute working in a massage parlor and from her lack of home, family, and security. She understands that chasing wealth leads to slavery. Perestroika was a good time for Petr Todorovskii's critique of the "gray" life and the lies of Soviet everyday existence, whereas the end of the 1990s proved to be the right time for the critique of scandals, notoriety, and individualism by the new generation of Russian filmmakers. Russian viewers, who were sick of historical and political revelations, were ready to accept a modest heroine, with all her aches and pains, as a role model.

To lend a romantic twist to everyday routine is Marinina's specialty. Nastia's husband, a charming and talented math professor, can occasionally fancy a long-legged blonde. Yet he quickly gets bored with the standard beauties and once again admits that he is only truly happy with "humdrum" Nastia, who emanates an aura of the usual. Other homely or plain women in Marinina's novels earn the narrator's sympathy as well. Illiuziia grekha (Illusion of Sin), for instance, features ill-favored, uneducated Irina, who is nevertheless presented to the reader as a worthy attractive character, for she is exceptionally honest, industrious, responsible, and caring.28 That is why one of the positive characters in the novel falls in love with Irina. The rendering of female characters in Marinina's novels reminds one of the principle professed during the Soviet period that "spiritual beauty" possesses a greater value than attractive appearance.

Catharine Nepomnyashchy observes that Marinina's books help the reader conquer his or her fears arising from social instability; Marinina makes instability appear less threatening and thus easier to overcome.29 Kamenskaia appeals to the reader because she resembles an ordinary person, the woman next door. Like the majority of Marinina's readers, she lives in a small studio apartment in an outlying, nonprestigious area of Moscow. Like most of Marinina's readers, Kamenskaia finds happiness in small things. She is happy when there is a container of juice in the fridge, which she drinks sparingly because it is so expensive. She is happy if she can get a side job during her vacations; she translates detective novels from French and English and spends her honoraria on luxuries such as coffee, cigarettes, and juice. Kamenskaia is elated when she gets a free trip to Italy; she is delighted when she gets the chance to sleep in or to have a coffee break, or when her backache does not trouble her too much.

Kamenskaia may be attractive to the reader because she is temperate and clever, attentive to people, kind, and fair, and because she protects the weak in a ruthless world in which money has become the be-all and end-all. The reader may also be attracted to Kamenskaia because she remains a state-employed investigator, despite the fact that she is underpaid. As a consolation to the army of Russians who can hardly make ends meet with their miserable salaries, Marinina shows that money is not everything in life and that it is possible to be a decent person in such seemingly indecent times. Yes, times may not be the best, but poverty is not a vice.30

Good Comrade Nastia. Kamenskaia advocates values that would have been most attractive in Soviet fiction. She is indeed an exemplary Soviet person in the post-Soviet epoch. No longer building communism, but tired of reforms in Yeltsyn's Russia, she lives according to the valued principles from her childhood. She idealizes these principles and adjusts them to the contradictions of contemporary life.

Kamenskaia's collectivism is the feature that is especially telling in relation to the post-Soviet Russian nostalgia for the values of Soviet times. Kamenskaia is a model comrade.31 Her relationships with her colleagues Kolia Seluianov, Yura Korotkov, and Volodya, for example, form an important part of Marinina's mysteries. Kamenskaia, like characters in the Soviet detektivy, normally works in a collective and structures the investigation in such a way that the best abilities and talents of everyone in the group are used to the fullest. The traditional Soviet detective novel featured a collective victory over evil. Two brave men and one woman successfully fight crime in the stories by the Lavrovs; the duo Gleb Zhiglov and Vladimir Sharapov impress readers of Era miloserdiia (The Era of Mercy, 1975) by the brothers Arkadii and Georgii Vainer, and viewers of Mesto vstrechi izmenit' nel'zia (The Meeting Place Cannot be Changed), Stanislav Govorukhin's blockbuster TV film of 1979 based on the novel by the brothers Vainer. Investigation was also a distinctly collective enterprise in Nikolai Leonov's Traktir na Piatnitskoi (Tavern on Piatnitskii Street, 1977) and in Yulian Semenov's 1973 novels 6 Ogarev Street and 38 Petrovka. A powerful collective-the socialist society and state-cemented on the pages of detective fiction was more important than an individual detective. The criminals, on the contrary, were solitary. Even if the plot featured a criminal gang (as in Tavern on Piatnitskii Street), each criminal was a loner, ready to betray others.

Kamenskaia's colleagues can stop by her place any time, stay for the night, and count on her support and advice. The office where Kamenskaia works resembles a Soviet department in which employees know everything, including the details about their colleagues' personal lives. In the novel Requiem,32 Kamenskaia has left her department. She now has a more secure, better-paid, and more prestigious post in General Zatochnyi's office, and is responsible for battling the Mafia. Yet, Nastia misses her colleagues at 38 Petrovka so much that she decides to quit the post in Zatochnyi's office and return to her old job. For the sake of the collective, for the sake of her friends and peers, Kamenskaia sacrifices her chance to advance her career. Such an interpretation of collectivism glosses over the dark sides of Soviet-type closeness, unwelcome intrusions into an individual's private life. In Marinina's novels, the ideals of collectivism popular during the Soviet period become the basis of the longing for the past. Marinina's modest characters, who still show the lost kind of intimacy and sincerity, become popular whereas individualist supermen of post-Soviet thrillers win the sympathy of a smaller readership and TV audience.

To the Radiant Past. One more feature relating Marinina's detective novels to the Soviet past is the criticism of the so-called "beautiful life" (krasivaia zhizn'). In the late Soviet period, krasivaia zhizn' was criticized in Komsomol and party meetings, in the newspapers, cinema, and literature. In the Soviet detective novel, the desire to live in style inevitably led a character to crime. Spirituality and concern for the "moral aspect" were offered as a means to counteract veshchism, the spreading disease of "craving for things," and living in style. In the mass consciousness in the last decades of the Soviet Union, however, the "beautiful life" was increasingly presented as a "norm." Even before perestroika, the phrase "happiness does not lie in money" was supplemented by "but in its amount." At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, millions of viewers began to watch American and Mexican TV soap operas, which were saturated with images and models of the "beautiful life." The featured clothes, houses, and cars fascinated the viewers. Soon such elements of "living in style" became available for consumption in Russia. Yet, the greater the availability of the elements of the "beautiful life," the greater the realization that they remained unaffordable. The stylish life became a means of drawing a new social frontier between the lucky and prosperous ones, and the losers who could not afford to live in style.

In the mysteries by Georges Simenon, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie, private property is a pillar of society and social order. Commissaire Maigret, Sherlock Holmes, and Hercule Poirot, for example, protect the bourgeoisie, the cultural elite and their possessions, not the interests of the poor. In European classical mysteries, the poor often figure to create a somewhat realistic setting, or they function as accidental victims. Wealth as a social phenomenon is not morally condemned and, in itself, is not linked to evil. In contrast, in Marinina's novels, wealth is morally condemned. In Illusion of Sin, Nastia's colleague Yura Korotkov explains his view of the hard-heartedness of his compatriots: "Money poisons people, Nastia. The whole civilized world has a genetic, inborn understanding that some people have a lot of money and even a great deal of money, whereas others have very little money or have none at all.� Our compatriots have grown up convinced that everyone should be equally poor. That is why when suddenly the accustomed flow of life has changed, and the change is so drastic, psychology was not ready for the change. Is it possible that a person could get a pension which is the equivalent of a monthly pass on city transport? And at the same time, his or her neighbor owns three cars and two country cottages and spends in a supermarket at one go the equivalent of three grannies' pensions? What can this generate but anger, envy, indifference to the troubles of others and unjustified greed?" (Illusion 62)

Marinina's sympathies are with the unfortunate and the poor, rather than with the "new" (and affluent). Crime in Marinina's novels often takes place in the circles of well-to-do Russians. In Marinina's mysteries, wealth-even if it is not the source of evil-is portrayed as dangerous. To be, or to aspire to be, rich is to put one's life at risk or to embark upon the path of crime that also leads to death. In the novel Stylist, for instance, the investigation takes Kamenskaia to a rich suburban area called "Dream" where the "new Russians" enjoy living in spacious houses in a protected environment, "unaffordable for old Russians."33 It turns out that it is dangerous to live in the "Dream" development. The very seclusion of the district provides an opportunity for criminal behavior. One inhabitant murders young men. In Requiem, a seemingly respectable couple, famous musicians, turn out to be drug addicts who start an undercover brothel at their dacha, being involved in child prostitution and the production of pornographic videos. A vulgar, luxury-craving pop singer murders his manager, who, in turn, was involved in numerous crimes. In the novel Stay Out of the Hangman's Way, the death of the oil magnate Yurtsev at a reception with the glitterati of the business world is calculated to arouse the reader's feelings for just revenge. Here, a top politician in the Russian province is shot by his own daughter, a drug addict. Such deaths seem to convey the message that rich people have no peace at home, are miserable, and may end up dead. Kamenskaia also exposes the moral degradation and crime committed by celebrities: popular music stars, actors, film directors, businessmen, corrupt scientists, and high-ranking members of the KGB. Marinina even condemns the desire to become rich. The desire to leave the "herd" and to be conspicuous and original leads Marinina's characters into trouble. Lera, a young woman in Requiem, aspires to be different and ends up as a plaything in the hands of an uncouth pop singer who has a proclivity for crime. Dissolute Vika Yeremina, a beauty whose only goal in life is to become rich and have a family (to which end she takes employment as a secretary, but is used by the company as a whore), is murdered. The same logic governs the choice of victims in the novels Away Game and Flunkies Die First. Girls who sell their bodies as a means to get "rich" or who wish to become a hired gun end up as victims themselves. In Flunkies Die First, a girl demonstrates her value as a hit woman to her potential employers by murdering innocent passersby in the Moscow oblast.

Marinina's characters vindicate the underpaid: Kamenskaia is not paid well, yet possesses superior professional qualities. A modest lifestyle is thus excused by adhering to high moral standards. Marinina does not suggest any radical social changes or console the reader with the promise of a better future as was typical of Soviet society. Instead, she shows her readers how to adjust the customary familiar norms and values of the Soviet past to the new conditions; how to change without losing one's own sense of decency, self-appreciation, and respect. In other words, instead of offering her admirers a radiant future, Marinina offers them the preservation of the "radiant" past, promoting the qualities that were typical of Soviet life in the ideal: social justice, abolition of private property, collectivism, and support. The qualities that were taken for granted in the Soviet past and that were so readily rejected during the perestroika period became attractive in the 1990s. The post-Soviet popular consciousness began to idealize the peaceful life, simplicity, and comradeship of the Soviet type, conveniently forgetting about the side effects that were loathsome to the same people during the Soviet period. Russian memory of the past in the second half of the 1990s seemed to erase the painful and embarrassing features in order to resurrect the positive ones perceived as being lost. Marinina's ideal reader is nostalgic not about the concrete order of things that existed in the past but about the myths of the past, the ability to live in utopia, the capacity to be optimistic even if only self-deceived.

Mass culture appropriated and commercialized nostalgia by thematizing it as popular entertainment. By changing "hands," the personal sentiment of nostalgia gradually became reified and reduced to a "little nostalgia" of the kind that is expressed in Marinina's novels. The decline in Marinina's popularity by the end of the 1990s is a sign that nostalgia is no longer the best sell and that mass culture may be a means to overcome nostalgia.

I would like to thank Anne Gorsuch, Jerald Zaslove, and Steven Taubeneck for reading earlier versions of this article.
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Notes

1. See "Russkoe Radio-2: Nostal'giia po 'Sovku'" http://rr5.ccs.ru/07_history/dr/ 25 Sept. 2003. All translations in this paper are my own.
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2. Such as, e.g., Russkoe Radio, the Russo-French radio station "Nostal'zhi," the Kiev radio "Nostal'gia," and the local radio stations "Retro" in Novgorod and Kishenev.
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3. A number of popular television shows are also nostalgia-driven. In the retrospective Ves' Zhvanetskii (All of Zhvanetskii, 1996), a popular satirist reads his stories written in the period from the 1960s until the 1990s. The New Year's Eve music show Starye pesni o glavnom (Old Songs About the Main Things) is based on performance of songs mostly of the Brezhnev era by new pop singers. The three "episodes" of the show were broadcast in 1995, 1996, and 1997. Although there were only three episodes, the show's broadcast time-New Year's Eve night, which is the biggest celebration of the year in Russia-reflects the significance of the sentiment of nostalgia in the 1990s. Each episode was rerun many times on Russian TV and became available on videotape. Old Songs About the Main Things-4 came out in 2001. The thirty-episode documentary Namedni. Nasha Era: 1961-1991 (The Other Day. Our Era: 1961-1991) focuses on the most important political, cultural, economic, or sports events of the year featured in each episode. By popular demand, Leonid Parfenov created a sequel to this series that covered the decade of the 1990s.
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4. Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003) 11.
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5. Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic, 2001) 49-50.
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6. In Soviet detektivy, vital ideological underpinning was required in order to describe grave crimes. Serious crimes were ascribed to incorrigible bandits predisposed by family background to do harm to Soviet society. For instance, in Yulian Semenov's novel Protivostoianie (Confrontation), the murderer and robber Nikolai Krotov is the son of an enemy of Soviet power; Krotov, a former Nazi collaborator, is depicted as absolutely alien to Soviet society.
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7. Such crimes featured also in the TV serial The Experts Conduct the Investigation: "Iz zhizni fruktov" (The Life of Fruit), "Podpasok s ogurtsom" (The Shepherd with a Cucumber), "Svidetel'" (A Witness), "Shantazh" (Blackmailing), "'Buket' na prieme" (A 'Bouquet' at the Reception), and "Pozhar" (Fire).
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8. Alexander and Olga Lavrov, "'Buket' na prieme" (A 'Bouquet' at the Reception). Biblioteka Moshkova (Moshkov's Library) http://www.lib.ru/RUSS_DETEKTIW/LAWROWY/buket_na_prieme.txt.
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9. Olga and Alexander Lavrov wrote short detective stories from 1970 through the 1990s. The thirty-five-episode TV series The Experts Conduct the Investigation was one of the most popular shows on Soviet TV. The first episode was broadcast in 1971 and the final one was shown in 1992. See a detailed discussion of the stories and the TV series in Serguei Oushakine, "Crimes of Substitution: Detection in Late Soviet Society," Public Culture 15.3 (2003): 426-51.
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10. The lyrics were written by A. Gorokhov: "If somebody somewhere sometime / Does not want to live honestly, / We'll launch an invisible struggle with him- / That is our destiny / On duty-day and night." See A. Gorokhov, "Nezrimyi boi" (The Invisible Fight). A song from Viacheslav Brovkin's TV serial The Experts Conduct the Investigationhttp://guvd.stavkray.ru/menu01.html.
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11. See Olga and Alexander Lavrov, "Avtory-chitateliu" (To Our Reader), Sledstvie vedut znatoki (The Experts Conduct the Investigation) by A. and O. Lavrov (Moscow: Veche, 1994).
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12. See, e.g., Mikhail Berg, "Gimn lenivym v liubvi, frigidnym i nekrasivym" (The Anthem to Those Who Are Lazy in Love, Frigid, and Ugly), Novaia russkaia kniga 6http://www.guelman.ru/slava/nrk/nrk6/38.html. See also the transcript by Ilya Dashidze's TV show Litsom k litsu (Face to Face) of 10 Jan. 1999, in which Marinina was a guest http://koi.svoboda.org/programs/FTF/1999/FTF.011099.asp. See also Viacheslav Kuritsyn, "Marinina, kak prizrachnaia, tak i virtual'naia" (The Ghostlike and Virtual Marinina), Sovremennaia russkaia literatura s Viacheslavom Kuritsynim, Vypusk 8.8 http://www.guelman.ru/slava/archive/11-02-99.htm. For information on popular TV detective series consult http://topseriali.narod.ru/Kamenskaia/Kamserial/Kamserial.htm.
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13. See A. Levinson, "Rendez-vous s Marininoi" (A Rendez-vous with Marinina), Neprikosnovennyi zapas 1 (1998): 39-44.
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14. See the articles by I. Savkina, Elena Trofimova, and L. Geller in the volume Tvorchestvo Alexandry Marininoi kak otrazhenie sovremennoi rossiiskoi mental'nosti (Alexandra Marinina's Works as a Reflection of Contemporary Russian Mentality), ed. Elena Trofimova (Moscow: Russian Academy of Sciences, 2002).
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15. Marinina's novel Tot, kto znaet (The One Who Knows, 2002) is not a mystery. It expresses nostalgia more explicitly than her previous works. In this novel, Marinina idealizes a Soviet kommunalka, a communal apartment of the 1950s and 1960s.
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16. B. J. Rahn, "Seeley Regester: America's First Detective Novelist," The Sleuth and the Scholar: Origins, Evolution, and Current Trends in Detective Fiction, ed. Barbara A. Rader and Howard G. Zattler (New York: Greenwood, 1988) 49-50.
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17. Western mysteries became very popular with Soviet readers soon after the Revolution; in particular during the NEP period when, on the initiative of Nikolai Bukharin, the series "Red Pinkertons" was published in Russian. See Katerina Clark, Petersburg: Crucible of Cultural Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995).
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18. Alexandra Marinina, Stecheniie obstoiatel'stv (Coincidence) (Moskva: EKSMO, 1999) 176. Henceforth Coincidence. Marinina uses the same expression in Prizrak muzyki (Specter of Music) (Moskva: EKSMO, 1999). Subsequent references are to this edition and are cited parenthetically in the text following the abbreviation Specter.
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19. Richard Slotkin, "The Hard-boiled Detective Story: From the Open Range to the Mean Streets," The Sleuth and the Scholar: Origins, Evolution, and Current Trends in Detective Fiction, ed. Barbara A. Rader and Howard G. Zattler (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988) 91.
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20. Based on the assumption that the existing order must be defended, the classical detective novel is socially and politically conservative. See Earl F. Bargainnier, The Gentle Art of Murder: The Detective Fiction of Agatha Christie (Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1980) 17. See also Stephen Knight, "Enter the Detective: Early Patterns of Crime Fiction," "The Art of Murder": New Essays on Detective Fiction, ed. H. Gustav Klaus and Stephen Knight (Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 1998) 10-26.
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21. Alexandra Marinina, Ne meshaite palachu (Moskva: EKSMO, 1999) 246. Subsequent references are to this edition and are cited parenthetically in the text following the abbreviation Stay Out.
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22. Alexandra Marinina, Ubiitsa ponevole (Moskva: EKSMO, 1995) and Igra na chuzhom pole (Moskva: EKSMO, 1994).
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23. Alexandra Marinina, Ukradennyi son (Moskva: EKSMO, 1999).
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24. Alexandra Marinina, Smert' radi smerti (Moskva: EKSMO, 1995).
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25. Alexandra Marinina, Shesterki umiraiut pervymi (Moskva: EKSMO, 1998).
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26. See Mike Pavett, "From the Golden Age to Mean Streets," Crime Writers, ed. H. R. F. Keating (London: BBC, 1978) 79.
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27. Alexandra Marinina, Chuzhaia maska (Moskva: EKSMO, 2000).
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28. Alexandra Marinina, Illiuziia grekha (Moskva: EKSMO, 2000).
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29. Catharine Nepomnyashchy, "Markets, Mirrors, and Mayhem: Alexandra Marinina and the Rise of the New Russian Detektiv," Consuming Russia: Popular Culture, Sex, and Society since Gorbachev, ed. Adele Marie Barker (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999) 182.
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30. See my article "Intelligentsia v rossiiskom detektive" (The Intelligentsia and Detective Fiction), Neprikosnovennyi zapas (Moscow) 4.18 (2001): 94-103.
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31. Similar to the heroes of the Soviet children's writer Arkadii Gaidar, Kamenskaia takes care of the sick. She visits sick children in Specter of Music and Illusion of Sin. She tries her best to understand criminals and to help their victims.
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32. Alexandra Marinina, Rekviem (Moskva: EKSMO, 1999).
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33. Alexandra Marinina, Stylist (Moskva: EKSMO, 2000) 13.
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