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Polar Star Paperback – June 12, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews
Book 2 of 8 in the Arkady Renko Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sprung from a state psychiatric hospital, Arkady Renko takes refuge in Siberia, ultimately working on a Soviet factory ship in the Bering Sea. When one of his shipmates is murdered, he's pressed into service. "Those eagerly awaiting the return of Renko, the saturnine, chain-smoking police investigator from Moscow who appeared in the bestseller Gorky Park , will be glad to know their hero is back in fine form," said PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

10 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (June 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345498178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345498175
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martin Cruz-Smith's novels include Stalin's Ghost, Gorky Park, Rose, December 6, Polar Star and Stallion Gate. A two-time winner of the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers and a recipient of Britain's Golden Dagger Award, he lives in California.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The second novel in the Arkady Renko series is the one I actually read first. Renko has escaped his enemies by going to work in a factory ship, the 'Polar Star.' Here, he will have to use his talents to solve the murder of a young Georgian (Soviet Georgian, that is) woman who had been in contact with Americans. As in "Gorky Park," the Americans are not portrayed too kindly, which only adds realism to the story. The most extraordinary thing about this book is the absolute control that Smith has of its setting. Once again the author has proven that he can not only tell an interesting tale, but that he can do it with enviable talent: the ice, the cold weather, the trapped ship, the people who lie to Renko for their own reasons, the plots within plots, all of this is masterly interwoven by Smith with apparent ease. Although "Polar Star" does not advance the story of Arkady and Irina (for those with a touch of the romantic in us), it does provide the credible setting for the investigator's return home, opening the way for the third book. The Renko novels are all good, even if the fourth one goes against my romantic streak, and Smith only proves that he is one of the best American writers today, period.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Polar Star by Martin Cruz Smith is the second in his Arkady Renko series, and the sequel to his bestselling book, Gorky Park. Things ended badly for Moscow investigator Renko in Gorky Park. He's been fired from his job and removed from the party. Polar Star opens with Renko relegated to as close to a modern day Siberian work camp as you can get-a fishing factory ship called the Polar Star in the Bering Sea. Renko has spent a good part of a year stuck on the "slime line," where he guts and cleans fish.

Events change quickly for Renko when a young, flirtatious cafeteria worker is scooped up in a fishing net, murdered. Renko is called on by the ship's captain to help assist as Renko is the only person on board with a background in investigation. At first, the officer running the investigation tries to convince everyone it was an accident. But Renko knows better, and finally convinces enough people that he is allowed to investigate independently.

The Polar Star is working on a joint fishing expedition alongside American ships, and the possible suspects include not just Russians, but also, Americans. But as more crew members turn up dead, Renko's job becomes more perilous and his life is in danger. There aren't too many good places to hide on a fishing boat. The last chapters will have you on the edge of your seat!

I am amazed that Cruz Smith can write about Russian characters in a way that penetrates their psyche in such a convincing manner (especially considering he isn't Russian). Polar Star is also fascinating in that it takes place during the tail end of the Soviet Era, and we get a glimpse of how Russian's struggled to "see things in a new way." Usually, this "new way" was contrary to communist doctrine.
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By A Customer on November 13, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have just read the first three Arkady Renko novels (Gorky Park, Polar Star, and Red Square) by Martin Cruz Smith, and am currently enjoying his fourth featuring the Moscow investigator (Havana Bay). I found Polar Star to be an extremely enjoyable read. It is uniquely set on a factory ship on the Bering Sea which consequently infuses a claustrophobic atmosphere into every page. In Arkady Renko, Cruz Smith has created an intriguing and realistic hero. Never before has a leading character been so easy to identify with and warm to. And in Polar Star, Cruz Smith has, in my view, exceeded the standard set by the brilliant Gorky Park. It is extremely well written, with an absorbing plot that gathers momentum as it hurtles towards a gripping climax. In summary, unputdownable.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Set at the start of Glasnost in the late '80s, this second book in the Arkady Renko series (following Red Square) finds the gruff Soviet ex-policeman aboard a factory ship deep in the Bering Sea. Having antagonized powerful figures in that previous adventure, he's been on the run inside the Soviet Union, trying to hide in its deepest darkest corners. And it doesn't get a whole lot deeper or darker than the "slime line" on the factory ship, where he spends his long shifts gutting fish and avoiding any attention. The ship is part of a U.S. Soviet joint venture operation, and when a 40-ton fishnet disgorges the body of a female Russian crew member, someone decides it would be handy to have former cop Renko look into the matter.

Eager to keep a low profile, Renko tires to duck out of the duty, but in the end is ordered to comply-thus setting off an a highly atmospheric and very complicated story involving a long cast of characters. Almost immediately, Renko discovers that the woman's woman's death was no accident, and that she was stabbed. However, the implications of this are politically incorrect, and the ship's slimy political officer tries to squash any investigation until to ship returns home to Vladivostok. Yet, a mysterious "ship electrician" somehow manages to ensure Renko's continued involvement, and soon Renko is consumed by the matter.

Renko's quasi-official investigation revolves around trying to understand the dead woman, a Soviet Georgian with a yen for life on the other side of the Iron Curtain, Western consumer goods, Pink Floyd, etc. As Renko pokes around the ship and interviews everyone aboard it and the smaller fishing vessels that accompany it, the plot gets increasingly complicated.
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