Gorky Park (Volume 1): Martin Cruz Smith (The Arkady Renko Novels)

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Gorky Park (Volume 1): Martin Cruz Smith (The Arkady Renko Novels)

Gorky Park (Volume 1): Martin Cruz Smith (The Arkady Renko Novels)

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There are a few things you should know about Gorky Park before you read this review for said review to make any sense. And then it hit me: Smith’s Soviet Union reminded me of John le Carre’s “The Circus,” his fictionalized portrait of British Intelligence in the post WW II world.

FBI agents escort Arkady and Irina to Osborne's ranch on Staten Island where the exchange is supposed to take place. By PETER ANDREWS; Peter Andrews, a contributing editor to Saturday Review, frequently reviews adventure novels. Most disappointing is the lack of mystery in this thriller, as the bad guy (who, incidentally, wears a black hat) gets identitified early on, and thereafter simply pops up with all the convenience of a jack-in-the-box bogeyman. He is a loose cannon, determined at all costs to solve the murder, and paying mere lip service to the Party - letting his membership lapse and unwilling to be bribed or 'influenced'. Three, in spite of being translated, it is actually very accurate in slang and style, something I realized when I watched Chernobyl right after reading this book and found the characters’ idiosyncrasies making more sense than they otherwise would’ve.The dialogue between he and Renko at the end is reminiscent of the scene between Rakolnikov and Porfiry in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. His first mystery ( Gypsy in Amber – 1971) features NY gypsy art dealer Roman Grey and was nominated for an Edgar Award. You literally feel like putting it aside and not picking it up for a while, but still feel like turning page after page at the same time! Arkady Renko, a chief investigator for the Moscow militia, is a one man Don Quichote who wants justice for the three dead people in Gorky Park, an amusement park in Moscow.

In fact, in a section near the end of Gorky Park, Renko does follow the case to a corrupt United States, and engages in deadly intrigue with the FBI who it turn out are in league (for reasons that elude me) with the KGB. I mean, he's writing about a real place, but it doesn't exist anymore, as such, so I don't think that makes his job any easier. This is an old thriller from the dark days of the Iron Curtain and the great Soviet Union, our hero is a Russian but certainly not a faithful member of the party.Arkady does so, killing Iamskoy and Osborne's chief henchman, but suffering a near fatal stomach wound. And resolving the case, in a nice twist, takes Renko to the other side of the Iron Curtain – to New York City – where the prospect of an exchange involving smuggled goods also holds forth the possibility of freedom in the West for Arkady Renko and Irina Asanova. Russia is beautifully portrayed - marvellous scenery and atmosphere but with a stench of corruption and lies. Renko is stubborn with a sly talent for screwing up the plans of powerful people, and there’s a great worn down but not beaten element to the character.

My favorite part of this novel was Cruz Smith's ability to portray the Russian psyche, and there is nothing that does this better than humor and insinuations (that may be lost on those who are not familiar with the Eastern Block machinery-and Cruz Smith, bless his soul, is not explicit-explicating to a "western" audience the intangibles of life beyond the Iron Curtain would only destroy the novel's realism). I always held back from reading Gorky Park -- despite its decades long service as a dust collector on my shelf -- for fear that an American author during the Cold War could only deliver the shabbiest form of propaganda if writing about a Moscow cop circa the early 80s. What most interests readers may be not the supposed mystery nor the diffuse criminal investigation, but the daily details of a society and culture they didn't know before (and which has somewhat passed now), as revealed through an example of the crime thriller genre.

Was it possible – did he have the imagination – to create some elaborate case full of mysterious foreigners, black marketeers and informers, a whole population of fictitious vapors rising off three corpses? Arkady and Irina become lovers after admitting their mutual attraction, but Arkady is convinced that she knows about Osborne's connection with the three victims, except she believes that Osborne has helped Valerya and Kostia to defect to America, with their friend Kirwill, a radical anti-Soviet, hoping to claim a publicity victory for having facilitated their escape.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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