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Tatiana (Arkady Renko) Hardcover – November 12, 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 699 customer reviews
Book 8 of 8 in the Arkady Renko Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In Smith's riveting seventh Arkady Renko novel (after 2010's Three Stations), Renko, now a Senior Investigator for Very Important Cases, looks into the apparent suicide of crusading investigative journalist Tatiana Petrovna, who fell from a window to her death in Moscow. Renko's bosses have no problem accepting the suicide theory, but Renko and his loyal partner and friend, Det. Sgt. Victor Orlov, continue to search for answers. Smith spins a complex plot involving the Russian mafia, a teenage genius struggling to crack the code of Petrovna's notebook, and an excursion to Kaliningrad, the isolated Russian enclave on the Baltic. While Petrovna may be a candidate for sainthood (she's evidently modeled on real-life reporter Anna Politkovskaya), the most intriguing character after Renko is contemporary Russia—freer than it was at the height of the cold war, but at least as corrupt and vastly more unequal—into which Smith offers many insights. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg, Andrew Nurnberg Associates (U.K.). (Nov.)

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The more Russia changes, the more it supports Arkady Renko’s unremittingly bleak worldview: “I’m a cynic. I believe in car wrecks, airline disasters, missing children, self-immolation, suffocation with pillows.” And, yet, he soldiers on, a cop perpetually on the outs with his superiors, trying to solve cases that no one wants solved. “I have no authority anywhere,” Arkady explains, “but I like to understand things.” But things, in the New Russia, are getting harder and harder to understand. Arkady knows corruption, of course, but the new corruption, from officialdom through the Mob—now as powerful as the party ever was—leaves even a lifetime cynic shaking his head in wonder and dismay. The apparent suicide of investigative reporter Tatiana Petrovna—Was she really murdered? Is she even dead?—sends Arkady on another of his ill-advised searches for answers, this time taking him to Kaliningrad, an isolated, Mob-dominated city with the highest crime rate in Russia. What Arkady finds there is a grayed-out surreal landscape, postapocalyptic but without an apocalypse, in which the answers he seeks are as elusive as they are lethal. That Smith has kept this series going for more than 30 years, finding through decades of change more and more reasons for Arkady to justify his cynicism, says much about the modern world—and much about Arkady’s bedrock humanity in the face of snowballing absurdity. If a man believes in self-immolation, Tatiana asks Arkady, what doesn’t he believe in? “I don’t believe in saints,” Arkady replies. “They get people killed.” --Bill Ott

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Product Details

  • Series: Arkady Renko (Book 8)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (November 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439140219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439140215
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (699 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lonya VINE VOICE on October 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Winston Churchill's quip seems an apt title for a review of Martin Cruz Smith's latest Arkady Renko novel, Tatiana. Not only does it apply to Russia, the subject of both Churchill's epigram and Cruz Smith's book, but it also describes the plot device that drives the story. It is a good story and a very good addition to the series.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Some writers of genre fiction transform the genre, taking it to a new level of excellence. Martin Cruz Smith has done that to crime fiction with his Arkady Renko novels.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What do a muckraking journalist, a billionaire gangster and a Swedish translator have in common? They didn't all walk into a bar. They have been murdered. And investigator Arkady Renko can't get them out of his mind, or life. The only real physical evidence that he has as a possible lead is the translator's notebook. But he can't decipher the translator's doodles. He'd better crack its code quickly as someone will kill to get their hands on it.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The famous anti-corruption journalist Tatiana Petrova is dead. According to the official police report, she threw herself off her balcony. But Arkady Renko doesn't believe in this suicide for many reasons. The list of gangsters, corrupt politicians and crooked cops who wished her dead is a long one. And oddly, her body has been lost in the morgue. With no evidence of a crime, no witnesses and no body, an investigation seems fruitless. But Renko gets permission to pursue it.

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.
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