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October 09, 2009


Steve Steinbock

Wow. I'm overwhelmed. Stuart was a Grandmaster in the truest sense. Whatever he wrote, whatever he did, he did with grace and skill. Ever since reading my first Abe Lieberman novel, I've seen myself as an alter-cocker wannabe. When I first met Tasha, I don't think she was yet in her teens. Excuse my non sequiturs. I guess I'm feeling old. I'm so sorry to hear of Stuart's passing. My heart goes out to his family. May his life be for a blessing.

ed gorman

Stu was a fine writer and fine gentleman. He encouraged me when I was starting out almost thirty years ago and later on he reprinted the one novel of mine that I really wanted to have a second chance. His books on Hollywood and its stars and his pieces on noir and the detective novel in general were almost as valuable as his novels. I am truly shocked and saddened by his passing.

Austin Lugar

This is so sad. I had just started to read his work within the past year or two but instantly fell in love with his Toby Peters series. What I loved so much in that series was his playful use of words. His books are still inspiring to me. I only wish I could have met him.

Dennis Fried

Stuart was a very kind soul. And friend.


Someone recently commented that female crime authors write happily married protagonists more than men do.

Kaminsky’s Abe Lieberman is not just happily, lovingly married, he’s a grandparent. He’s also a detective unafraid to use violence when he has to, and he’s a Jewish. That’s not a typical combination. More to the point, the religion and culture are not mere ethnic window dressing. They figure prominently in some of the stories. Liberman has to be one of the more underrated characters in American crime fiction.

And Lew Fonesca springs from one of the more beguiling premises I know of. How can you not love a character who hits the road after his wife dies, settles in Sarasota, because that’s where his car conks out, lives in his office, and hangs out at the Dairy Queen?
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"


the link to Tasha brings me back to my own FB page. Can you simply confirm which Tasha Kaminsky she is (there are two at least.) I'm assuming I know which one but I don't wish to make a mistake in getting in touch. Is Tasha in Israel? anyone know?

Steve Dickman

I met Stuart in Sarasota in 2003. We were both players in Sarasota Senior Softball. I had read two of Stuart's novels before moving here, and I was overwhelmed when I met him because he was just one of the guys. He was completely unpretentious, and if you didn't know he was a famous writer, there was nothing in his manner or behavior that would have told you. I played softball with Stuart for several years, and the last year he played he was my manager. He was one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth people I've ever met. I am heartbroken at his death, and will miss him tremendously. RIP Stuart.


I met him in Italy, in Courmayeur, where he was President of the NoirFest Film Jury. A nice person who loved to remember the days when he was working with director Sergio Leone.


Jim Huang

Not only a fine writer -- clever, versatile, funny and insightful -- but a gracious and generous man. We've lost a major figure and a great friend.

ed gorman

I was so surprised and shocked when I read your column last night that I forgot to mention that Stuart almost single-handedly launched the humorous historical mystery sub-genre with the durable Toby Peters. And in addition to his series work, he also wrote two fine stand-alone chillers and numerous excellent short stories.

John Jakes

Stuart Kaminsky was an old, old friend from his Northwestern teaching days. I met him when he was the doctoral adviser when
one of our daughters, his T.A., was completing her Ph.D. there.
I began reading Toby Peters mysteries, visited N.U. to speak to
his classes, and we were colleagues and comrades foreveremore.
Our daughter considers him the kindest, most considerate teacher
of all the academics she has ever met. On top of that, he was a
bang-up writer, richly deserving of his honors from MWA. He was
also the man who lured us to the West Coast of Florida. All in all,
there is much grieving to do ...
John Jakes

Peter King

When I first came to Sarasota 16 years ago, one of the very first things I did was to join the Sarasota Fiction Writers. At the first meeting I attended, one of those present was Stuart - who happened to be one of my favorite writers. I was trying to get a book published at that time and Stuart was unstinting in his help and advice. He became a close friend and I consider myself fortinate to have known him. I miss him more than I can say and I know that goes for all the members of the Liars Group - all writers and all admirers of Stuart's work. His name and his books will remain high
in the world of mystery writers for ever. Peter King

E. P. Ned Burke

I talked to Stuart shortly before he left Sarasota for St.Louis. I had numerous questions in mind but we talked mostly about my work. He was gracious and open to my ideas. I always considered Stuart an exact practitioner of his craft. Any wannabe mystery writer need look no further than the works of Stuart Kaminsky to learn how it is done. He'll be missed.

E. P. Ned Burke

Wayne Barcomb

Stuart was my friend for 16 years. As he was with so many writers, he was generous of his time and advice when I first started writing novels. He had a gift for helping people. He was gracious and considerate of everyone, and had a wonderfully puckish sense of humor. Stuart brought me and many other writers into the Liars Club, a group who meet for lunch and liars poker every Friday. The table has felt empty since he left. The games continue, but they will never be quite the same without Stuart.

McClaren Malcolm

Stuart Kaminsky,on a personal level, approachable, interested, engaged, and encouraging. His writing ability was uplifting, helping me see the heights of expression possible in a good story. When he was in the room, all was well. I regret the passing of a great spirit. Go well, Stuart.


Very sad news. He said somewhere he read Crime and Punishment every year. A few years ago I asked him please when is the next Rostnikov? I love Porfiry. He said ah my Russians, it might be a while. But in France, where he's hugely respected, the late great film actor Philippe Noiret took him to lunch with an eye to playing Porfiry and Stuart apart from everything the actor said was impressed by his handmade Lobb shoes. Thank God he gave us People who walk in Darkness.

Madonna Dries Christensen

A host of people in Sarasota will miss having Stuart's company at writer's gatherings. While most conversations revolved around writing and books, I recall a few moments when we discussed which kind of nut we preferred among those in a bowl of mixed nuts.

A man for all seasons. He left a wealth of good reading for all of us.

Laura Lippman

Stuart was my professor in college, but it was such a large class (Film and Literature, with am emphasis on real-life figures) that he couldn't possibly have known me. He team-taught with another professor and it was the other professor who assigned Murder on the Yellow Brick Road, one of several books that made me a mystery reader. Years later, I was nominated for an Edgar(r) and found myself in the same category as my former professor and we were re-acquainted at the reception.

He leaves a remarkable body of work and a remarkable number of legacies in our field.

Charmaine Engelsman-Robins

Growing up an aspiring writer in a town full of famous writers (MacKinlay Kantor, John D. MacDonald, Bordon Deal, and more recently Stephen King) the old school boys were sort of admired from afar, but Stuart Kaminsky was a hands-on guy who couldn't do enough for the talent in his community. I hope the tapes of his on-air local cable sessions with young writers will be included in the biography that will surely join the ranks of other great Sarasotans at our local libraries because for some of us those sessions were even more inspiring than his work. What a great, great writer and more importantly a truly nice, nice man. We hated to see him leave to return to St. Louis last Spring but now the loss feels so final. A sad day for Sarasota, and for readers and writers everywhere.

Charmaine Engelsman-Robins, SRQ

Louie Dillon

Breakfast at Du Duchman. That's where our friendship began. When I began writing I called Stuart for advise. I told him about my love for writing. He didn't know me, yet he accepted my invitation for breakfast, and took on the challenging task of advising a new writer who knew little about the skill. That was almost 17 years ago. Stuart was a gracious man, generous with his time and knowledge of his craft. I was blessed having known him.


Enid and Natasha, I'm so sorry for your pain and all our loss-
I always looked forward to at least a few words with Stuart at any conference I attended. Hockey, movie directors and actors, Japan, screen writing or mystery writing- Stuart's smile, candor and sharing, his thought out and thoughtful opinions and statements of experience were a high point of a trip for me. I'd look across a room of people and smile and say to myself -'ah, good, Enid and Stuart are here'. I enjoyed reading him in his varied works, and enjoyed recommending his books to friends and relatives.
Stuart was giving and genuine, a Gentleman who will be missed.
Fred Rea

JB Hamilton Queen

Stuart Kaminsky was a friend from the first time I met him, a genuine man who could easily provoke a smile with his ever present humor. A man of immense talent, he was humble, never pretentious, always considerate of everyone, warm and gracious. He offered encouragement and critical advice to new writers. He will be greatly missed around the world, here in Sarasota, and in our home for get togethers and celebrations. Hugh and I will treasure our collection of his novels and the memories made during these many past years.

Keith Raffel

I met Stuart at Sleuthfest in 2006 before I was published. He was warm and friendly and patient. Look at the comments above. He helped so many of us aspiring writers. Despite a writing schedule that would have made anyone this side of Isaac Asimov blanch, he found time to blurb my first book. I was there at the Edgars when he was honored as a grandmaster. He deserved that honor, but was so unassuming about it. He'll be missed. He was a mensch.

jon jordan

The first mystery novel I ever bought with my own money was by Kaminsky, YOU BET YOUR LIFE. it changed my reading habits forever. Meeting him in Owensboro a few years ago was a real fanboy moment for me. He's a legend and with good reason. His helpful influence on the mystery genre will be felt for years to come and his body of work will be important for as long as people read.


susan andrews

Tash and Enid,
I am so sorry for your loss. Stu will be greatly missed. John and I were shocked as most friends and our thoughts are with you as I write this. Honeycrust Pizza days will be missed and warm thoughts of the four of us walking down the street in Key West, eating ice cream and talking, will be forever one of our special memories. I am in Missouri (a transplant from Sarasota)and today, although close in miles I feel so far away. Hugs are sent to you and Tosh. We miss you terribly.
SUSAN and John Andrews.

Leo Seligsohn

Stuart, whom I got to know and appreciate at our weekly Liars Group luncheons, will always be remembered by readers of outstanding crime fiction and everyone who knew him. His writing brought, and will continue to bring, pleasure to a huge public. The last time I saw him was when we cleared out some of his files for the move from Sarasota to St. Louis. The amount of old book and movie manuscripts, photos, letters, awards and others mementos that came pouring out was amazing. He saved some. He jettisoned others. He was quiet. I will never forget it. He was a wise, deeply thoughtful and compassionate presence. He will be missed.

Joe Guglielmelli

We are so sad to hear of Stuart's death. Stuart, Enid and Natasha were such good friends to us during the years that Black Orchid was in business (We even put the family up one year around Edgar time). Stuart being the Grand Master the same year we were given the Raven Award made that honor extra special because we had had so many great times with him.

My favorite story about the quality of Stuart's writing was a former boss who knew that Bonnie & I had just open the shop was telling me that although he didn't read a lot of mysteries, he really enjoyed this series by a Russian author. It took me a few minutes and a few questions to realize he was talking about Stuart and his Rostnikov police procedurals. He wouldn't believe me that a real Moscovite had not written such vivid stories.

Another wonderful writer we will miss.

Susanne Kirk

I had the honor to edit several of Stuart's Rostnikov novels at Scribner -- not that they needed much editing. Stuart was such a professional. And, as Joe G. said in one of the other comments, many people thought that a real Moscovite must have written the books. Stuart, at that time at least, had never even set foot in Moscow! I am deeply saddened to hear of his death and I send my sympathy to Enid and Natasha and all the family.
Susanne Kirk


His characters were vivid, gentle, tough and flawed. I don't know Russia like I know Florida but he captured the beauty and tragedy of both so well. He will be missed greatly by his fans and from the comments it sounds like he was even more impressive as a teacher, family man and friend.

Chuck Kleinhans

Stuart was a senior faculty member when I started teaching at Northwestern in the Radio/TV/Film department in 1977. In addition to his critical books and essays on film, he taught screenwriting, and always from a practical perspective that included how to negotiate with the suits. He left his stamp on the department with his advocacy for talented directors such as Frank Tashlin, Jerry Lewis, and Don Siegel who were usually dismissed by the "old guard" as juvenile and commercial rather than artistic and serious. I remember Stuart once remarking that growing older and more mature didn't mean that you had to give up the things that delighted you as a child. Rather, he observed, we incorporate that stuff and still have access to it. He then mentioned that if you loved baseball as a kid, that didn't mean you had to give it up as an adult.

Jerr Delamater

Stu and I were grad students together at Northwestern in the early seventies, and my wonderful memories of those days include the almost-weekly film viewing sessions he held at his home. We all thought it was so cool that he had his own 16mm projector, but it was his warmth, generosity of spirit, and welcoming nature that made those sessions such a vital part of my grad-school experience. Finishing his degree in record time, he joined the NU faculty and subsequently served on my dissertation committee (always providing valuable advice, of course)and even gave me my first publishing gig by allowing me to contribute a chapter to his book American Film Genres. Many of us wondered how he ever found the time to play basketball (which seemed a passion in those days) and still produce as prolifically as he did. Perhaps more than anyone else, Stu steered me toward the serious appreciation of popular film, to which, as Chuck KLeinhans has noted, he was strongly committed. I am convinced that his essential, unpretentious nature led him to that commitment. I am deeply saddened by his passing.
Jerry Delamater

Peter Kaminsky

Although I am of course deeply saddened by the loss of my father and best friend, I am so happy to hear so many kind words about my father from so many people.

I knew he had helped a lot of writers but I had no idea how many, and I knew people had respect for his work but I had no idea how much.

Thank you all so much for your comments.

Lori Erokan

Stuart Kaminsky is one of my all-time favorite mystery writers. He was a classic. This very night, before I knew of his passing, I was in a book store and looked under "K" in the Mystery Books section as I often do, just to see if there was an older book I'd missed, or maybe a new Abe Lieberman (my favorite!). I always suspected there had to be a little of Stuart in Toby, in Abe, in Lew, and in Rostnikov. I never knew him personally, but in knowing these characters, these good although imperfect men, I think we knew him. He will be greatly missed, and long remembered.

N. Fraser

Dear Kaminsky Family, Dec 26, 09
I have been away & when I returned to find out about Stuart (as I feel I knew him)...I am devastated. Thats the only word that can
describe how I feel abt losing such a great writer.
I loved the Russian Rostnikov the best of all & am so grateful for at least one more. Is there any hope that an unfinished book lies around to be completed & published?? IT would be a great moment for his many fans I'm sure!! It feels like losing yr best friend to me as his books have gotten our family through some terrible weather, awesome trips, sad nights in the hospital waiting room & so many more times & places. I wld gladly hv given him a liver transplant if I knew! Profoundly sad but with grateful thanks, Naomi M. (Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada)

Dennis Slater

Very sad news. I was shocked when Iheard of Stuart Kaminsky's passing. First, since his style and imagination are such a loss to legions of fans; second, because I only discovered his work a mere six months ago. I know, I know, where have I been all this time?! Wwll, better late than never, and, since reading his story in the "Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe" collection, that was it. I was captured, and immediately fascinated as I'm sure all you long time Kaminsky fans have been for years. Since then I've read every Kaminsky I can lay my hands on. It began with Fonesca, then Rostnikov, Lieberman, and now Im hurtling through the Toby Peters mysteries.It's been one brilliance after another. Thank you Stuart Kaminsky for awesome reads!

Dennis Slater

Nancy Fenske

Despite my sadness, I had to smile when I read the NY Times Obit. They misspelled "Lew Fonesca",,..here is a copy and paste of the correction. Life imitates art!

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 15, 2009
An obituary on Wednesday about the mystery novelist Stuart M. Kaminsky misspelled the surname of one of his series characters. The “depressive process server working in Sarasota” is Lew Fonesca, not Fonseca.

Link to obit:


Lisa S.

I'm a little late on this but I just discovered Mr. Kaminsky and have devoured the Lieberman and Rostnikov series. A great writer, very profoundly missed.

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