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Stalin's Ghost: An Arkady Renko Novel Paperback – June 3, 2008

235 customer reviews
Book 6 of 8 in the Arkady Renko Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Moscow-based Senior Investigator Arkady Renko, in his outstanding sixth outing (after Wolves Eat Dogs), investigates a murder-for-hire scheme that leads him to suspect two fellow police detectives, Nikolai Isakov and Marat Urman, both former members of Russia's elite Black Berets, who served in Chechnya. Isakov, a war hero, is now running for public office. Renko must also look into reports that the ghost of Stalin has begun appearing on subway platforms and why several bodies of Black Berets who served in Chechnya with Isakov have turned up in the morgue. Despite repeated threats to his life, Renko stubbornly perseveres, seeking justice in a land that has no official notion of that concept. Smith eschews vertiginous twists and surprises, concentrating instead on Renko as he slowly and patiently builds his case until the pieces fall together and he has again, if not exactly triumphed, at least survived. This masterful suspense novel casts a searing light on contemporary Russia. 250,000 first printing. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

His sixth Arkady Renko novel in 26 years, Martin Cruz Smith has produced a suspenseful page-turner packed full of vivid characters, clever dialogue, and hair-raising plot twists. In addition to a gripping mystery, readers will embrace the detailed, harrowing descriptions of the harshness and violence of life in the "New Russia." Critics unanimously praised Smith's sobering depiction of contemporary, post-Communist Russia; indeed, the country emerges as a character in its own right. The Wall Street Journal complained of implausible story lines and the questionable nature of Renko's career choices, but most critics were delighted to see Arkady Renko back in action. Readers will no doubt share their enthusiasm.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Arkady Renko
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Reprint edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743276736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743276733
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,716 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Adman on July 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For more than a quarter of the century, Martin Cruz Smith has made his readers experts on Renkology. In fact, Arkady must be the most loved Russian made of ink. At least, he is for me. So I am willing to forget a couple of flaws in the last two novels. In fact I could forgive any flaws. I would still enjoy a Renko novel even if Arkady recited Moscow's phone book for 300 pages. So, here are a couple of thoughts on Stalin's Ghost.

FOR RENKO LOVERS : You will find all Smith's trademarked nihilistic, ironic and laconic gems of dialogue that have been keeping you awake at 3 am and unproductive at the office the next day. You will find the excellent supporting Russians, Chechens, chess grand masters, devoted detectives, all orbiting Renko. They are all unique, they all speak wise and they never ever seem ersatz. You will also read some poigniant chapters about Arkady as a child. And you will discover that Arkady can even waltz.
However an Arkady novel every year is different from an Arkady novel every 5 years. Don't expect the complicated plots of Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square and Havana that secure second, third and nth readings. This Arkady looks more like a mini series. Think of an analogy. If Godfather I and II were adopted into a TV series (with the director and all of the original casting) it would still be great but it wouldn't be... the same.
I don't want to ask the writer to wait for 5 years until he delivers the book that even Pribluda would canonize. I am very happy with one Renko every year, adding to his belly scars from Gorky Park and his butchered back from Red Square a strangulation and a shot in the head. Long live Arkady. 3 ½ stars.

FOR RENKO BEGINNERS : Start chronologically. First read Gorky Park. Then re-read it.
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123 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Lonya VINE VOICE on June 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
He hates him much that would upon the rack of this tough world
stretch him out longer." King Lear, Act IV, Scene 3.

I have read and very much enjoyed Martin Cruz Smith's previous Arkady Renko novels. Renko's erratic career path as a police inspector has seen him survive, barely, the apparatchiks of the Soviet regime in "Gorky Park". He survived the USSR's imminent demise in "Polar Star" and the emergence of bloody cowboy capitalism, Russian-style in "Red Square". In "Wolves Eat Dogs" Renko operated in a Russia dominated by an elite group of billionaire oligarchs who fed like vultures, even upon the radioactive ruins in the Ukraine and Belarus created by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Now, in Smith's new novel "Stalin's Ghost", Renko lives in a Russia in which the dislocations caused by the last twenty-five years have left many Russians feeling nostalgic for the security and certainty they felt under Stalin. Stalin's ghost may or may not be vexed by being placed upon the rack of this tough, brave new world that is Russia but his presence is most certainly still felt.

An article in "Foreign Affairs" magazine in January 2006 contained a poll by a Russian polling organization indicating that as late as 20003, 20% of Russians would vote for Stalin if he were to return to life and run for President. The sentiment forms the thematic undercurrent for Renko's latest investigations. Renko is ordered to investigate the alleged appearance of the ghost of Stalin at a Moscow underground (subway) station. This appearance, real, imagined, or fraudulent seems connected to the Senate campaign of one Nikolai Isakov. Isakov is a former member of the Russian army's elite "Black Berets" and a `hero' of the last Russian campaign against Chechnya.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mark Stevens VINE VOICE on July 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The dialogue is golden, the scenes are taut, the overall feel of the backdrop is cold, dry and gritty. There's one exchange between Renko and his girlfriend near the beginning that aches with reality and beauty. The dialogue is that good. But Smith does little to pave the way for new readers of Renko. You have to work to keep track of the characters and their roles. This is not breezy, easy reading unless you know Renko's world. Smith sets up scenes with a few brush strokes and off you go. Just a note of caution in case this might be your first Renko-related expedition. You might be better off to start at the beginning.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on August 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Hit me", said a parrot.
That was after young Zhenya unnecessarily let old Platonov win the blitz chess match.
In the somewhat surreal ambiente of modern day Moscow our good old friend Arkady Renko goes out searching for enemies again. He is so good at it.
Martin Cruz Smith rises to great form with this 6th volume in the Renko saga. I liked them all, maybe the previous one about Chernobyl a bit less, maybe the one in Cuba a bit less, but this ghost story is as good as Gorky Park. With Renko you don't always really know what case he is working at and what he wants to prove and what he intends to do. You find out in the process and somehow MCS gets away with keeping you in the dark.
Most other crime authors I would not let do this, somehow this one knows how.
You better have a rough idea about soviet history and about post-soviet Russian history, otherwise this plot will be lost on you. The plot is about Chechnya and Russian politics in modern times, resp. the violent consequences of the same. And not to forget Arkady's tormented private life. An honorable man with high ethical standards, but not always a very wise man and not always his own friend.
High suspense level. High language level.
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