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Red Square: A Novel Paperback – September 25, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews
Book 3 of 8 in the Arkady Renko Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Soviet upheavals have fueled the glowing talent of Smith (Gorky Park), America's preeminent writer of Russia-based thrillers. Investigator Arkady Renko returns from exile on the Polar Star fleet to find the new Moscow a dramatic battlefield of warlords and entrepreneurs; behind it, as still as a painted backdrop, eight million people standing in line. An ingenious bomb kills Renko's informer the banker for freewheeling black marketeers-leading Arkady's team through the quicksand of mafia-dominated official graft. His workaholic forensics expert, Polina (who must wait in line for morgue time as well as for beets), identifies the bomb method, leading Arkady too close for aparatchik comfort. He is bumped from the case, but only after a clue from the dead man's fax (Where is Red Square?) points him toward a Munich connection. Meanwhile, he is stunned to hear his lost love, Irina, on Munichbased Radio Liberty and with his last bit of clout wrangles a barely official trip to Germany. His mastery of the Russian system stymies the Munich embassy and reunites him with Irina in the midst of nasty fellow citizens bent on national theft. With vital aid from a Munich cop, Arkady links the fax clue to Russian bureaucrats, the ethnic Checken mafia, and German bankers. The novel paints the new post-Soviet aura through the stoic hero's wry humor and leaves Arkady and Irina perfectly poised, like Russia itself, for whatever comes next. Major ad/ promo; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

12 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345497724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345497727
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 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 (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,586 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
Red Square is the third Martin Cruz Smith mystery in the Arkady Renko series. After Polar Star, Renko finds himself back in Moscow and restored to his former position as an investigator. The Soviet Union is on the brink of collapse, and five or six different groups of Russian Mafia are vying for control in Moscow. One man, Rudy Rosen, is a tie to these many groups as he serves as a "banker" to them all. He also is an informer for Renko. When Rosen is brutally murdered, Renko has the difficult job of trying to find the killer.

Renko's search takes him from Moscow to Germany, where the possible suspects include gang members, the KGB, a Russian businessman and even a Russian prosecutor. There are many shady situations in Russia as communism begins its freefall, and the waters are definitely clouded. But Renko is extremely intelligent and also, very observant. Through hard work and perseverance, the waters start to clear for him.

Reading about this period of Russian history is always fascinating. It is also interesting to read how Radio Liberty (sponsored by Americans) broadcast out of Germany. This was the only way Russians could discover what was really happening in the USSR.

My only complaint about Red Square is that it seemed rather disjointed for the first one hundred pages or so. It was often difficult to keep characters straight and to follow the plot. But things really picked up halfway through, and the remainder of the book was riveting. I couldn't put it down.

So while I think Red Square fell just a little short of Gorky Park and Polar Star, it is still a fine effort by Cruz Smith.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The title is a play on words, and things have really changed in Arkady Renko's Moscow. He's an Investigator again; he has been rehabilitated. His concerns are the different mafias that rule the city's underground (and plenty of the above-ground) trade, and a radio program from Germany that connects him to his past. There are "bankers" in this new Moscow, and trade is in full swing. There are Audis, markets, chemical bombs, and charming Party-members who look like movie stars and get along with Americans because Americans love people who look and act like they do. The murder of a Jewish banker-informer takes Arkady and his partner to the outskirts of Moscow, to a collective farm that has not done much farming, to a Volvo ("a compact, well-made car" as Arkady thinks while looking for his partner) and to Stalin's villa. From there, right before the August putsch, Renko will go to Germany after the trail of the Russian mafia, after "Red Square," after the voice he listens to on the radio every night, alone in his apartment.
Full of intrigue and with a great plot, "Red Square" is also the most romantic of the Arkady Renko novels. Again, where so many of the genre writers fail miserably, Smith soars: the love between Arkady and Irina is poignant, believable, adult, and a bit childlish at the same time; the dialogues are realistic; the description is never trite or tired, but vital and fresh. Once again, Smith proves that he is not only a good genre writer who can churn out a superior mystery novel, but a great writer, period. In Arkady Renko he has created a person, not just a character, and his prose flows with ease.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
First published in 1992, _Red Square_ illustrates the complexities which have emerged as the Russians allow some private enterprise but have not yet become a democracy. Hardliners want to perpetuate their own way of life, while young people and the hungry proletariat want reform and their own piece of the pie. Arkady Renko, who has appeared in two previous Cruz Smith novels (Gorky Park and Polar Star), has returned to Moscow from exile and has resumed his job as a detective, this time investigating corruption and criminal fraud in the city as private enterprise takes illegal turns.

Rudy Rosen, who engages in money-changing, gambling, and other felonies, some of them involving citizens of foreign countries, is cooperating with Renko by allowing him to record conversations. Immediately after Renko leaves Rudy in his car, however, Rudy's car explodes, incinerating Rudy and a suitcase full of cash. As Renko investigates who might have killed Rudy, the complexity of this mystery parallels the complexities of a Russian society in which it's every man for himself in terms of financial transactions.

All the characters are at loose ends, wondering who they are and how they are perceived. Renko is just back from exile, the love of his life having defected to Germany years ago, and she believes that he has abandoned her. Rudy Rosen wants to have it both ways--to cooperate with Renko and to continue his shady dealings. The Chechens who appear in the story are blamed for everything that is violent or illegal, but they remember the horrors of mass relocation and the killings through which the Russians annihilated their villages and left them homeless.
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