An intricate and profoundly sad murder mystery that rises above genre conventions to be a literate story and great character study as well as a fascinatingly detailed look at the repressive Brezhnev years in the Soviet Union.
Arkady Renko is a thirtyish, down-trodden investigator who is burdened with a triple-homicide that no one seems to want him to solve: three murder victims, missing their faces and fingerprints, are dumped in the middle of the popular Gorky Park in Moscow. Renko, while enduring the dissolution of his marriage to a selfish woman, tries to prove an international link so that the KGB will take the case off his hands.
By the time he actually can prove this, he wants to solve the case and has fallen in love with mysterious Irina, a dissident who seems implicated somehow. Unforgettable.
This is the first book of Martin Cruz Smith that I have read. It took me some time to get adjusted to his writing style - it is a bit unusual. But I started liking it around mid-way through the book. Lots of surprises. Excellent feel for Russia and the culture and lifestyle there in the Soviet era. The characters have been built and fleshed-out well, and we can feel with Renko as he struggles with his failed marriage, the repressive Soviet system at the time, and the love and sense of betrayal he feels with his new love.
I will certainly read the rest of the books in the series!
First book in the Gorky Park trilogy. Outstanding detective story. Arkady Renko is a great character and the villain is American! Polar Star and Red Square are the other two books that detail Arkady's detective abilities while he struggles to navigate the Russian and American cultures and political environments. This book is a classic! The Gorky Park trilogy is fantastic!
I've read and re-read Gork Park over the last thirty odd years, and it remains a favorite. Witty and penetrating, it is a fantastic thriller, an expose of Russian [ and American] society during the period of the Cold War, a history, and a love story with magical characters headed by the always soulful policeman Arkady Renko. This book transcends the thriller genre and has withstood the test of time. Also highly recommended is the second book in the series, Polar Star.
I reread this first book after finishing Wolves Eat Dogs. I wanted to follow Arkady from the beginning. This view of Russia and New Russia is very interesting. I love the way MCS writes his characters.
I admit I saw the film first, but think the book is better - skips the sentimental movie ending. Renko is sure to be an enduring character in the genre of Russian police procedural novels or simply the genre of fiction, period. Smith is a terrific story teller and write just incredible sentences and scenarios. The series only gets better from here.
It was hard to put this down. Especially in the first half of the book there is an amazing Russian sensibility. The moodiness and atmosphere were so Russian. The complications and double crosses never seemed to stop, but I was not alone in my confusion, for Arkady got misled as well. His strength as a detective is his willingness to change course in his thinking. The result is a book that never fails to intrigue and remains suspenseful clear to the last page.
Gorky Park is not as good as later books with ARKADY RENKO as the main character. This book is a good introduction to RENKO, Russa, and even New York. It at times gets slow paced ant just looses the interest in the book. I would suggest this book as the introduction to the other books in the ARKADY RENKO series.