My friend Stuart Kaminsky died today. I really don't know what to say, so please forgive me if I ramble a bit. Stuart was not only a wonderful writer, he was a wonderful human being. He was unfailingly kind and supportive to his fans and his fellow writers. I was both.
I first met him decades ago when I was a kid and a fan of his Toby Peters books, which I saved up to buy through the Mystery Guild (and wrote in each one "This book belongs to Lee Goldberg and Not You). I wrote him a fan letter and he wrote me back, and that started a correspondence that lasted off-and-on as I went from being an aspiring writer to a professional one.
We became friends. He was one of the first writers to blurb me and gave me a lot of great advice over the years (and I was ridiculously honored, and thrilled, the first time he called me for advice on something. Actually, that never wore off). We've been produced together (NERO WOLFE) and published together (HOLLYWOOD AND CRIME) and worked together on various MWA committees over the years. The last time I saw him was a year ago in Kentucky, where he was staging an original Sherlock Holmes play at the International Mystery Writers Festival. We spent a week together and his boundless enthusiasm energized the whole event. That was the thing about Stuart, he never lost his love and his passion for writing…and it was contagious. I will miss him very, very much.
(The photo on the upper left is Bob Levinson, Stuart and me at the International Mystery Writers Festival last year. The picture in the lower right is me, Jan Burke and Stuart at the 2002 Edgar Awards. You can click on the images for a large view)
25 thoughts on “Stuart Kaminsky Has Passed Away”
I met Stuart a few years ago, also in Kentucky. He truly was a wonderful man. And he was an amazing writer. The first mystery I ever bought with my own money was You Bet Your Life, a Toby Peters with the Marx bros in it.
We are poorer with his passing but he’s left an incredible body of work.
I’m so pleased to find the universal approval of Stuart. I didn’t know him well, but I interviewed him for a piece for Mystery Scene Magazine years back and he edited an anthology I have a story in, Show Business Is Murder, and I felt like he was unfailingly kind and supportive both times. And I think if you have “unfailingly kind and supportive” as an epitaph, then you lived your life well.
I ,too, “met” ‘him via Toby Peters, and later Rosnikov, and Fonseca and still have my autoprahed copies. Although I am not a tie-in snob I thought his talents were wasted on CSI, Rockford books, etc. but I was shocked to get the news via yoru Facebook feed. May his soul, along with the souls of all the departed (including the movie stars he wrote about!) rest in peace.
He was a professor of mine at Northwestern and his love for mystery and crime novels was, like you say, contagious. At the time, the few writing classes I took, frowned upon “genre” fiction, especially mysteries and thrillers, but he gave me the intellectual ammo to indulge in my love of those books. He always had time to talk to you after class and we talked for hours about Chandler, the McDonalds and even “Dirty Harry” movies. I read all of his books that I could get my hands on. He was a great, great writer and a wonderful person.
Ouch, what terrible news. I met Stuart a few times at the Edgars and he was a good guy and true gentleman… this has been a tough year for the mystery-writing community… he will be missed.
I had read two of Stuart’s Fonesca novels before I moved to Sarasota. When I started playing senior softball, I found out he played, too. I was unbelievably thrilled to meet him. We played together for several years, and he was one of the nicest, sweetest, most unpretentious people I’ve ever met. I will miss him tremendously. R.I.P, Stuart.
This is a very sad loss to the world of readers and writers. Whenever someone dies my first reaction is always, “damn no more books” but then I think about their families and friends. I am working on myself to reverse such a selfish reaction.
I am sorry for the loss of your friend.
I am very sad to hear this news. Stuart was the International Guest of Honour at The Bloody Words Mystery Conference a few years ago in Toronto. He was a real joy to be with, generous with his time and a warm, caring person. We were talking about inviting him back to help celebrate our tenth Anniversary next year. We will think of him at the conference in 2010 with much affection.
Chair: Bloody WOrds Board of Directors
Stuart is indeed a wonderful man. And maybe granddaughters are just “suppose” to think that of their grandfathers…But whether or not this is true, I’ve found a million good reasons to love my grandpa. I was thrilled to see his play in Kentucky, and had thought I would later enjoy many more…
I first got to know Stuart many years ago as a student at Northwestern. He was a terrific teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge that just astonished me. I think I probably took every one of his classes. He was also one of the kindest people I ever met. He reached out to me and nurtured my interest in film, writing and teaching. The possibilities in my life expanded tremendously as a result of being his student.
I was fortunate to be reacquainted with him in the last few years via Internet and Mystery Writers of America. I am so glad I was able to know him as a friend and that I had the opportunity to thank him personally for his great gift to me. Bless you, Stuart, you will be missed so very much.
I am his son, Peter Kaminsky. I thank you for all your kind words. He was my best friend.
All of us here at RiverPark Center in Owensboro Kentucky are saddened. He was the greatest, and a lot of the success of the International Mystery Writer’s Festival is owed to his involvement from the beginning. He was always there for us with advice, inspiration and humor. Our thoughts are with Enid and his family.
Like many, I first met Stuart in Kentucky in 2007. There was nothing pretentious or un-approachable about him or his lovely wife Enid. I directed a play at the festival and was thrilled when he told me how much he enjoyed it. He was truly a good man.
Stuart will surely be missed. We first met him in Florida at a Mystery Writers Luncheon. Stuart was happy to share his knowledge and offer help. He was a fine man.
I was one of the few people that my brother allowed to call him Stu. The family has always been proud of his talent and accomplishments. He was a loving, giving brother and I will miss him every day of my life. Sara Rashkow
I was stunned to hear of his death. I never met the man, but he gave me years of enjoyment through his mystery characters. I never read his television tie-in novels, but I relished and looked forward to his own characters series. He could be fun (Toby Peters) but also philosophical and clever. He always told a story well and made three dimensional characters that were allowed to develop and grow—and we were fortunate to get to know them. When possible,I bought his books in hardcover to keep—but would also have paperback extras to lend out. It’s a loss on many levels….from the comments above, he appears to have been a great man personally as well as professionally.
At a stressful time in my life, I found myself reading Stuart Kaminsky books one after the other for their great characters and underlying decency and sympathy. I admired his work and am sorry to have never met him.
I’ve just discovered the very sad news as I was browsing on the Net…
I happen to be the French translator of the three first books of Stuart’s Lew Fonesca series (Vengeance, Retribution, Midnight Pass). They’ve been published by éditions Alvik then, and two of the books are now in paperback reprint at éditions Rivages. The 3rd one is to be published next year I guess.
Anyway I really enjoyed reading and translating his books… Stuart and I exchanged e-mails once, as I had some translation issues with some slang words, and Stuart kindly helped me out.
It’s a real pity I wasn’t able to meet him when he came here for a mystery/thriller book event in Southern France… And I guess there was a movie project for the Fonesca series at that time…
I happened to ask éditions Rivages last March if they intended to resume the translation of the series… (because éditions Alvik no longer exist)… and they didn’t know yet, even though they consider the Fonesca series an excellent one, and they’ve also published some Toby Peter books.
Anyway I just hope I’ll translate the three remaining episodes of the Fonesca series some day, as Stuart Kaminsky is certainly one of the best authors I’ve ever translated, one I deeply respect and now certainly regret.
I’m a bit at a loss for words to express all my sympathy to his friends and family.
Jean-Noël Chatain, from Paris, France.
A great writer and a great guy. A huge loss.
I will miss his writing so much. My first selfish thought was now he would write no more books. There is more to his passing I know. He was a very nice man. When I emailed him to tell him how happy his books made me, he emailed back and said “that was the nicest thing a writer could hear.” “Especially the first thing in the morning.”
If you are in touch with his family, please tell them for me, just how special he was to his fans. His sweetness as well as his talent always showed in his writing.
I will miss this wonderful writer. I am a huge Lew Fonesca fan.
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:
Greetings of peace to you all,
I, too, am a fan of Stuart Kaminsky. I never had the pivilege of meeting him but I did correspond with him. He always kindly took the time to reply to my e-mails. I copied them out and have them still. He always remembered me when I wrote. As he said, “Of course, I remember you. How many Amish fans do you think I have?” Yes, I am Amish. I am using a computer at a friend’s house.
I am saddened by Mr. Kaminsky’s death. I will miss his great writing gift. I am very sorry, though, for his family and wish to express my deep sympathy and condolences to them.
God bless you all.
Mark S. Curtis
Ed McBain, Robert Parker, and Stuart Kaminsky–all these bright lights that have graced my life with hours of reading joy–thank you for all the gifts–I see them all, chatting and sharing convivial moments–I always loved the dedications, full of love for their families……what else, finally, is there?
We have your books–and so you live.
I feel a little stupid as I did not realize that Mr. Kaminsky died last October. Stupid because I have been a huge fan of his Toby Peters books since I accidentaly discovered his Muder on the Yellow Brick Road years ago and became an instant fan. I then proceeded to read all of the Toby Peters stories as well as his other series, but I have to admit that Toby and his world remain my favourite, My world has dimmed a little with his passing.
Very late, but I just found out. Stuart and I corresponded for many years, and not only was I a fan of Toby Peters, but became one of the characters in “Poor Butterfly”. A very sad time for us all. (I also sent him a replica door that graced his fansite) Snick Farkas