Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express by Kaminsky Stuart M

Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express by Kaminsky Stuart M

Author:Kaminsky, Stuart M. [Kaminsky, Stuart M.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Detective
ISBN: 9780786238149
Publisher: MysteriousPress
Published: 2000-12-31T23:00:00+00:00

Part II


Chapter One

Life on earth is short at best

The cities are a game of chess

Copper domes and statuettes

Victories with marble breasts

Leave the burden with the rest

Watch the sleepers phosphoresce

Trans-Siberian Express

THERE WERE EIGHTEEN CARRIAGES in the train, plus a dining car. The narrow corridors of the carriages were crowded. Sweat, grunts, hurrying, pushing. Languages. English, French, German, Chinese. Faces to match the languages. Some laughter. The shrill voice of a woman in Russian asking, “Petrov, are you behind me?” Petrov answered above the crowd and the awakening sounds of the train engine.

In 1857, N.N. Murav’ew-Amurski, governor of eastern Siberia, commissioned a military engineer named Romanov to explore the possibility of a railroad to connect Siberian cities to each other and the western metropolises, including St. Petersburg and Moscow. Romanov came up with a plan. The Russian government gave it no support till the czar became interested in the possibility of such an enterprise in 1885. Entrepreneurs from Germany, France, Japan, and England came forward with offers of help, but Czar Alexander III feared strengthening foreign influence in eastern Russia and decided to use government money for the project. In 1886, Czar Alexander approved a report from the governor of Irkutsk in Siberia.

The czar wrote: “I have read so many reports from the Siberian governors that now I can admit with sadness that the government did almost nothing to meet the needs of this rich, neglected region. It is time to correct that error.”

In 1887, three expeditions were launched, each headed by an engineer appointed by the czar. One expedition was to find a path to Zabaikalskaya, another to explore the construction possibilities through middle Siberia, and the third to examine the feasibility for a connection to the South-Ussuriyskaya railroads. Following the expeditions, the czar appointed a Siberian Railroad Construction Committee, which declared that the “Siberian railroad construction is a great national event which should be built by Russian people using Russian material.”

Rostnikov searched for his compartment. Most passengers were already stowing their bags in the compartments designed for four people. Western tourist agencies booked their clients together, four Frenchmen in a compartment, four Americans in another. But a compartment of Russians could be next to one with four Chinese or Americans, and a woman traveling alone might find herself in a compartment with three men. And another car might be filled with Russians, except for one with four Greeks. Sometimes tourists going nowhere but on a train ride asked to be placed in a compartment with Russians.

When Rostnikov found his compartment, he was greeted by a reasonably polite conductor, who said, “Your ticket.”

Rostnikov handed the ticket to the man, who took it and gave him another.

“You have been switched to the next compartment, thirty-one.”

Rosţnikov did not bother to ask the reason since the compartment was nearby and he knew there could be a dozen good reasons for the move or a dozen bad ones. The conductor probably did not even know.

So, whether by design or chance, Rostnikov found himself wedging into a compartment where three men sat speaking English.


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