Stuart Kaminsky, a former Grandmaster of the Mystery Writers of America and author of dozens of critically acclaimed and well-regarded detective novels, passed away earlier today in St. Louis. He was 75. His daughter, Tasha Kaminsky, wrote the following note on Facebook today:
I'm posting with great sadness. My father passed away peacefully October 9, 2009. My mother, Enid Perll, and I, encourage you to donate to a charity of your choice in his name. He also strongly supported the United Negro College Fund, Hospice Care, Congregation Shaare Zedek (St. Louis, Mo) and Congregation Temple Beth Shalom (Sarasota, Fl). I will be checking his facebook consistently for months to come and answering questions to the best of my ability. Thank you for your well wishes and prayers.
Where to even begin? Another one of the mystery greats is gone. He wasn't flashy and wasn't famous but for decades, Kaminsky produced superior crime fiction, year in and year out. From the Toby Peters novels set in 1940s Hollywood to the series of books starring Chicago cop Abe Lieberman to the Moscow-set Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov books to the more recent series featuring Lew Fonesca, you could count on entertaining and highly readable works. But he should be remembered just as much for what he gave back to the community as a whole and how he helped writers, from Sara Paretsky (who dedicated INDEMNITY ONLY, her first V.I. Warshawski novel, to him) to those he taught over the years and others who benefited from being selected by an anthology he edited - including ON A RAVEN'S WING, published at the beginning of this year, which celebrated Edgar Allan Poe's bicentennial with new works by authors well-known and unknown tipping their hat to the old master.
But my obit can't really do the man justice, so the comments box is open for memories, tributes and the like. In the meantime, some links, and I'll update this post throughout the weekend as more comes in:
- 2002 interview with J. Kingston Pierce at January Magazine
- Kaminsky talking about ON A RAVEN'S WING with the Baltimore Sun's Read Street blog
- 1989 interview with Don Swaim
- Thrilling Detective's writeup of Toby Peters and Lew Fonseca
UPDATE: The Mystery Writers of America has released a statement on Kaminsky's death: "MWA is deeply saddened by the loss of Stuart Kaminsky, Edgar award winner, past MWA president, and 2006 MWA Grand Master. Stuart made numerous contributions to the mystery genre and offered unselfish support to fellow writers. He will be missed by those of us whose lives he has touched."
UPDATE II: Tributes from Lee Goldberg (who started corresponding with Kaminsky decades ago), J.Kingston Pierce (the definitive tribute, which also reports that Kaminsky, a longtime Floridian, relocated to St. Louis earlier this year) Bill Crider (and Max Allan Collins in the comments section), Lesa Holstine, Janet Rudolph, Moisson Noire, L'Angolo Nero, NonSoloNoir, Krimiblog.de, S.J. Rozan, Sara Paretsky, Peter Rozovsky and Lee Lofland.
UPDATE III: The Sarasota Herald-Tribune runs their obituary of Kaminsky, which sheds more light on the cause of death: complications from Hepatitis C (which Kaminsky contracted in the 1950s while working as an Army medic) and a stroke, which happened 36 hours after arriving in St. Louis where he was awaiting a liver transplant. The paper also reports that "In addition to his wife and daughter Natasha, Kaminsky is survived by two sons, Peter Kaminsky of Illinois, Toby Kaminsky of Miami, and Lucy Kaminsky of Denver; and three grandchildren." Funeral services are still pending, but I gather they will be held on Monday, October 12, with a memorial service to follow in Sarasota next year.