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Three Stations: An Arkady Renko Novel (Arkady Renko Novels) Hardcover – August 17, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews
Book 7 of 8 in the Arkady Renko Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Smith's seventh Arkady Renko novel (after Stalin's Ghost) falls short of his usual high standard. The Russian police detective, now a senior investigator, is seriously considering quitting the force because his boss, state prosecutor Zurin, refuses to assign him any cases. Renko seizes the chance to buck Zurin by finding the truth behind the death of a prostitute found in a workers' trailer parked in Moscow's seedy Three Stations (aka Komsomol Square). While the young woman, who Renko guesses is 18 or 19, apparently took a fatal drug overdose, he believes she was murdered. A subplot centering on a mother whose infant is stolen on a train detracts from rather than enhances the main investigation. This disappointing entry does only a superficial job of bringing the reader inside today's Russia. Hopefully, Smith and Renko will return to form next time.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Taken together, notes the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Cruz's novels chart the political and social changes that have transformed the former Soviet Union over these last 30 years--and the banes of indolence, indifference and corruption that seem to survive every Russian regime." The capable Renko, of course, has followed right along, and he is still as adept as ever at exposing dishonesty and corruption. Critics agree that if Three Stations is not the best entry in the seven-part series, Cruz brings to harrowing life the world of prostitution rings, runaway children, street gangs, and corruption, and his writing dazzles. A few opine that Three Stations feels a little thin and rushed, but that is a minor complaint in a series that continues to follow, warily and intelligently, Russia's evolution.

Product Details

  • Series: Arkady Renko Novels
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743276744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743276740
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,586 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: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very fast-paced and character-heavy novel that has Russian police detective Arkady Renko in the thick of a serial murder case that nobody wants to acknowledge and may cause him to lose his job. Long portrayed as a kind moral icon in this long-running series of excellent stories, Renko has become far too incorruptible and committed to justice to comfortably fit into the Moscow police force that has long since headed in the opposite direction. Renko's status as a paragon was never more clearly sketched than in this novel that very quickly plunges into the lowest depths of contemporary Russian society.

The action--and much of it is starkly brutal and unrelenting--takes place mostly in the Three Stations neighborhood of Moscow--a kind of latter-day Times Square. It's a garish and squalid place that attracts every kind of criminal activity, but ironically, serves as a haven for the displaced and disadvantaged too. Those already victimized souls are further exploited mercilessly by the heavies in charge of the area's crime. Child prostitution, drugs, theft, and forgery abound, surrounded by high-end nightclubs that offer more sophisticated and expensive forms of distraction for the newly wealthy of the city. Renko is pulled into the Three Stations when the body of a young woman is discovered and the Inspector's sidekick, Victor Orlov is despatched to the crime scene. As usual, Victor is too intoxicated to investigate on his own, so Arkady helps out. The murder is unwelcome in the neighborhood that depends on tourists and other visitors, and Renko's efforts to shed light on who killed the girl are not appreciated. The first murder is followed by other killings and it gradually becomes apparent that a kind of serial murderer is at work.
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Format: Hardcover
Though still an enjoyable novel, I found this to be the weakest book in the Renko series which started with the ground-breaking "Gorky Park". Not coincidentally, this is also the thinnest book physically of the series; compared to the rest of the books, it's a novelette.

It lacks the plotting complexities of Smith's earlier works; it's a pretty straightforward procedural. Though it evidently attempts to weave two "parallel" story lines, it fails because in the end, the resolution depends on pure chance rather than the true efforts of lead character Renko.

Essentially, Renko finds himself trying to solve a murder in Moscow. Meanwhile, a teen from the Russian sticks has her baby kidnapped from her while on the train to Moscow. Do these two events seem unrelated? Well... that's the problem with this book. They are, in virtually every way except for that chance overlap I mentioned earlier, which pushes all bounds of credibility, and only serves to provide an ending to the story.

I still give it three stars because in Smith's hands Renko is such an appealing character. But this book falls WAY short of the bar set by all the previous books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a rare and wonderful thing to be able to follow the adventures of a literary character for thirty years. And the author's evident skill in portraying the shifting fortunes of Russian society make for a most interesting setting. Three Stations is a police procedural set in contemporary Moscow centered upon events that converge in a modern crossroads frequented by over a million subway travelers each day; crimes take place that most are unwilling to see, including those with the responsibility to protect society.

There is no need to be familiar with the series to enjoy what is an excellent self-contained story, well-paced, well-plotted and among the best of its genre; however, to read the Renko stories merely as detective stories, is to miss the point that despite omnipresent corruption and vice an individual with honor and integrity can still make a difference. Renko is a survivor, but he survives without taking from others--in fact, he gives of himself at great personal cost. As such, the reader is not only looking for justice for the victims but also for Renko, who can't seem to ever catch a break.

This book, like its predecessors, does not spare its descriptions of the failings of modern civilization; it can be a tough read and presents doses of tough language but does not gratuitously dwell on the negative. Apparently modern Russia is competing with Victorian England in its ability to produce Dickensian squalor. Yet, like Mr. Dickens, Mr. Smith rewards his faithful and innocent characters in a manner that gives hope that eventually society may come to its senses and recognize the need to clean things up.
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Format: Hardcover
Maya, a frightened teen with a baby, flees a countryside brothel on the Moscow-bound train, looking over her shoulder for the hunters she knows will follow. But when a kindly old woman rescues her from a bullying soldier she allows herself to be coddled a bit - and wakes in the chaos of the Three Stations train depot in Komsomol Square - her infant and her few possessions gone.

Naturally the cops don't believe her and when she escapes them it's not Renko who takes her under his wing but Zhenya, the 15-year-old orphan chess prodigy Renko rescued and sort-of adopted in a previous adventure. Zhenya is smart but socially awkward and lacks the muscle of Yegor, the local child-gang leader who promises to protect Maya - at a price, of course.

Meanwhile Renko is worrying about Zhenya as he rescues his old colleague Victor Orlov from the drunk tank and helps him investigate a suspicious death in a derelict trailer at another area of Three Stations. The dead girl is apparently a prostitute, most likely dead of an overdose.

Renko is on the outs with his superiors, as usual, and looking for something to do, so, although the higher-ups rule it a natural death, he commandeers an autopsy, rules it a homicide and is fired for his trouble. As Renko digs deeper the case grows more complex and Renko once again butts heads with the powerful, including a swaggering billionaire, Sasha Vaksberg, whose several casinos have been shut down by Putin, although his glittering nightclub boasts its own choreographer, a once-famous dancer: "Photos covering the walls as if she were a person with no faith in her memory.
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