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Tatiana (Arkady Renko) Hardcover – November 12, 2013
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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 (Arkady Renko, No. 1). He survived the USSR's imminent demise in "Polar Star" and the emergence of bloody cowboy capitalism, Russian-style in "Red Square: A Novel (William Monk)". In "Wolves Eat Dogs (Arkady Renko Novels)" 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 "Tatiana", Renko lives in a Russia in which the political and social roller-coaster ride of the post-Soviet decades has leveled off. But it has leveled off into a world in which the status quo is a society seemingly governed by a triumvirate of criminals, oligarchs and corrupt state officials.Read more ›
An interpreter is killed after being kidnapped by a thug who has been paid to steal the interpreter's notes of a secret meeting. Unfortunately for the thug (and for the interpreter), the notes are encoded, so the thief discards them. The notebook makes its way to a journalist named Tatiana Petrovna, who is soon the apparent victim of a murder. The Kremlin, happy to see the end of a prominent critic of governmental corruption, proclaims the death a suicide and closes the investigation. Renko, as always, isn't buying the official line.
To get to the bottom of Tatiana's murder, Renko must learn why the interpreter was killed. The plot takes Renko to Kaliningrad, a city noted for its high crime rate and the center of the world's amber trade. Renko gets help (or hindrance) from Zhenya (a young chess genius who became Renko's ward in an earlier novel) and the poet Maxim Dal, as well as Renko's boss and co-workers. Of the various supporting characters, Zhenya (whose struggle to decide upon his future provides a strong subplot) gets the largest share of Smith's artistic attention. Renko's neighbor and part-time lover, Anya Rudenko, also plays a role. Her association with the son of a recently deceased mobster gives the beleaguered Renko yet another problem to worry about.
Smith is an old school thriller writer. His plots are surprising but believable. He writes absorbing stories without heavy reliance on car chases and martial arts contests to hold the reader's interest. His never forgets the importance of character development. In that regard, Renko is one of the strongest characters in crime fiction.Read more ›
Renko's Russia is a topsy-turvy world where ambiguity reigns, and Ranko is going rogue as usual. The only ones he can rely on is Victor, his vodka-breathed buddy, and young Zhenya who wants to run away and join the army. Even his sometime girlfriend, Anya, is cozying up to the bad guys.
With a streamlined, but rich, plot this novel takes you in a bullet-proof ZIL from Moscow to the old Baltic city Kaliningrad where treachery and a showdown with the villains await. This may be heresy but I enjoyed this novel more than GORKY PARK which our mystery book discussion group read this summer. Smith's writing prowess is in its usual fine form. There's even a little romance as a counterpoint to the guns and vodka. The character of the dead journalist Tatiana in this story was inspired by a real slain Russian journalist and freedom fighter Anna Politkovskaya. This work of fiction is intended to have a "visceral moral purpose". You may wish to read it with that in mind.
The plot is a juicy mix of trigger-happy mobsters, gratuitous violence, and devilish moneymaking schemes. And love blossoms amidst the gunplay. Renko's ward, a young chess hustler, falls in love over a chess game. Renko falls in love with the dead Tatiana while listening to her reporter's notes on tape.
The one big clue to the mysteries afoot is a notebook written in a private language that no one can decipher. This adds a nice note of intrigue.
Renko is an appealing hero, tough but vulnerable. He's kind to kids and fearless under threat. He already has bullet fragments lodged in his brain from a previous confrontation. So why worry about bullets in the air?
Martin Cruz Smith is a good writer. His prose is terse, his sense of humor wry, his characters colorful. Renko's interviews with gangsters are particularly amusing. The story moves right along with a large cast of characters causing trouble and pulling surprises.
I have drifted away from this series for the last few books, and so I enjoyed getting back into the mad atmosphere of Renko's Russia.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I always hate finishing a Renko novel. I try to drag it out as long as I can.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent continuation of the Renko saga. Russia portrayed in her eternal sad glory. Characters are fully developed and carefully nuanced.Published 9 days ago by Bob Cooper
This is a quick read. A definite sense of place as well as a certain class/or group (criminals and police) of Russian people are captured, and this appeals to me greatly. Read morePublished 18 days ago by J. Kahn
Mr. Smith's Arkady Renko novels often paint a picture of dark oppression while remaining subversively hopeful, painting a bleak picture of mother Russia struggling to come to grips... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Amazon Customer
Arcady Renko is a relentless detective with a strong sense of humanity. This is a Russian cop book that had me trapped - I had to keep the pages turning. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dr. Joseph Oren
well written, interesting plot, but not sensational, just very solid. enjoyable read.Published 1 month ago by Charles Albert Yoakum
A compelling story that is intricately told. Arkady patiently unravels a mystery of a journalist who allegedly commits suicide, a young boy and girl chess master decode a mystery,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Willie F
Tatiana is a well-done Arkady Renko novel, from first page to end it contains everything about Renko, his world and Russia, i wish Martin Cruz Smith's health let him to write more... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nejat BROHi