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Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, No. 1) Paperback – March 13, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 181 customer reviews
Book 1 of 8 in the Arkady Renko Series

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

10 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

"Brilliant...One of the best books of the season."
ASSOCIATED PRESS
A triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three corpses found frozen in the snow, faces and fingers missing. Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko is brilliant, sensitive, honest, and cynical about everything except his profession. To identify the victims and uncover the truth, he must battle the KGB, FBI, and New York police as he performs the impossible--and tries to stay alive doing it. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812977246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812977240
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I often return to "Gorky Park." I almost didn't go there at all. The film was not very good, although I liked Joanna Pakula. One day I read "Polar Star" (literally in one day, since I could not put it down) and I was hooked: I had to read "Gorky Park." Almost ten years later, I think I've read it ten times. I can always spare a day or two for one of my favorite books.

Welcome to the world of Investigator Arkady Renko, whose superiors use him, whose wife doesn't love him, whose country is like an insane asylum where the patients have the run of the place and sane people like Renko do the best they can. This is a great mystery novel, but the level of Smith's writing puts him far above the level of what we expect from "genre" novels. His characters became real people for whose fate I really cared. His plot is complicated but not overwhelmingly so. He does not trick the reader. And his detective, the militia investigator Arkady Renko, is one of the most memorable detectives in fiction: smart without being pedantic, intelligent, patriotic (yes, our Arkady truly loves his country), loyal to his friends and the woman he falls in love with. This is not the picture of a perfect man, but that of a basically good man. Renko is believable in his feelings and attitudes, and that is due to Smith's talent. Also thanks to the author we get an almost Dickensian description of Moscow and the inner workings of criminal investigations in the old Soviet Union. I felt I was in Moscow, and I finished reading the book truly caring for the characters in it, particularly Renko. Smith's novel is powerful, well-written, engaging, insightful, and a lesson in how talented writing can be applied to genre fiction for the benefit of everyone involved. "Gorky Park" and the other Renko novels are so far above genre, they make the rest look really bad, and they provide hope for genre novels in general: talent should not be divorced from entertainment. Excellent read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Martin Cruz Smith's "Gorky Park" is a literary thriller, and is more notable for Smith's unique style and his gift for capturing the bizarre Soviet world than it is its conventional plot and resolution.

"Gorky Park" is ostensibly a police procedural, where maverick investigator Arkady Renko is the "one good cop" in a corrupt justice system investigating the murders of three young people in Moscow. Of course, this being a thriller, Renko's investigation takes him high up the food chain, where he gets a chance to expose high corruption, nefarious deeds by officials, and the hypocrisy of the world he lives in. And, of course, he falls in love with a gorgeous woman along the way.

Two things set "Gorky Park" apart from conventional thrillers you see in every airport bookstore. The first has to be Smith's command of daily life in the Soviet Union. Published in 1981 before the collapse of the Soviet Union, "Gorky Park" sweeps along with the rhythm of daily life under communism, and it's a disjointing, jarring rhythm indeed. Smith combines an eye for detail with what must have been eye-numbing research to transport the reader to another world that is completely alien to Americans. The novel starts out in Moscow and ends in New York, and it's interesting that Smith is so able to capture the jarring differences between the two cities.

Smith's style also elevates "Gorky Park." Too many thrillers use language in purely functional terms, and dialogue is invariably direct and serves the purpose of clearly advancing plot or building character. In "Gorky Park," Smith is much more subtle than your average author.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It was unfortunate I saw the Hollywood version of "Gorky Park" before reading the novel. The film does not do justice to the main character or the storyline. It cannot compare to the book! After reading "Polar Star" and Red Square", the second and third installments of the series, I picked up the original and loved it. More recently, "Havana Bay" was published, and later this year a long-awaited fifth novel, "Wolves Eat Dogs", will be released. Arkady Renko, the protagonist of the series, is an honest, dedicated, hard-working Ukrainian cop. When he was Chief Homicide Inspector for the Moscow Prosecutor's Office, he took charge of a grisly murder case involving the international fur trade. Very quickly, he fell afoul of the KGB. That's how his troubles began, which pursue him throughout all four novels. I recommend this series highly. The settings are supurbly drawn -- from snowbound Moscow to an Arctic Sea fish processing ship, from a steam-filled banya to the steamy port of Havana. Wherever he goes, Arkady brings his cynical love-hate relationship with the Soviet system which often impedes his work. Like Columbo, he outsmarts the sly evil-doers while seemingly fumbling his way along the investigation. And he has more lives than the proverbial cat as his sleuthing lands him in the most lethal stews! Author Martin Cruz Smith has created one of the most likable protagonists in police fiction. Cleverly writing the character as just "Arkady" -- intimately using his first name -- helps endear him to the reader. We care for Arkady because of his moral strengths, his humility and compassion, and despite his weaknesses.Read more ›
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