Rostnikov confronts a mystery that stretches from Moscow to the stars Once, Russian children wanted to be cosmonauts like Yuri Gagarin. But the Soviet Union is dead, and the days of Gagarin’s glory are long passed. For the men and women aboard the decaying Mir space station, life is an unending series of near-disasters. During one such breakdown, cosmonaut Tsimion Vladovka asks ground control to contact Moscow police inspector Porfiry Rostnikov if anything happens to him. And when Vladovka disappears a year after his safe return to Earth, Rostnikov is the only man who can find him. A philosophical detective, Rostnikov has made a name for himself navigating the bureaucracies of the Kremlin. But never has he encountered anything like the labyrinth that is Star City, home of the Russian space program. Something has terrified the cosmonaut, and since he knows dangerous state secrets, he must be found, alive or dead. But if a man who braved outer space is scared, what chance does an earthbound detective have?