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)
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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.
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