"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
Arkady Renko is chief homicide investigator for the Soviet militsiya (civilian police force) in Moscow. In investigating the murder of three people found frozen in the snow of Gorky Park with their faces and fingers removed, Renko faces resistance from the KGB, FBI and NYC police.
Renko is intelligent, moody, cynical and at times defiant in tracking down the killer and the leads relating to a wealthy American fur trader. His only weakness is his love for a beautiful Soviet dissident who'll do almost anything to get to the USA.
One thing that sets this taut, clever novel apart from other police procedural thrillers is Martin Cruz Smith's vivid and stunning detail of day-to-day life in the Soviet Union prior to its collapse (this novel was published in 1981).
As for the narrator, he apparently ran the whole gamut of his emotions from A to B.
To listen to a great book while I knit is heaven on earth.
I loved it. I had to restart it about 4 times before I was able to get into it. I had difficulty with understanding the different relationships. Sorting and keeping everyone sorted was tough. Martin Cruz Smith conjures an amazing plot. I is three deep involving police, spies and the KGB. The sense of place was awesome. Henry Strozier made sure of that. However, I found everyone sounded pretty much the same which made it hard to keep my characters apart. It was well worth the effort.
I liked "Gorky Park" and stayed with it through the end but gave up on "Polar Star". Rented the "Gorky Park" movie, bought the T shirt, and both were just okay (as you can see I am a toughie). The problem the author has is a writing style that leads the reader from one more or less unpredictable moment to another. I found myself saying after a while, "who cares". Both books really could have used a much more ruthless editor (phone the copy desk).
I kept hearing references to this book even though it’s almost 35 years old now so I figured that must mean it’s very good. It is. This cold and weary book was written when the Soviet Union was still a thing, and it involves an honest detective investigating a triple murder in Moscow’s most famous park — in a country where there is not supposed to be crime, which is only for capitalist countries. How immature the obsessive spying and need to appear superior by both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. feels now! Bechdel test: fail. Grade: A-
As for the narration, this was recorded a long time ago when narrators didn't "act" out the characters. The narration is very serviceable, though, and never got in the way of the story.
If you are looking for a crime novel to enjoy unbelievable twists of the plot written by talented author and narrated by a very good narrator, you will enjoy this book. But do not try to "learn russian soul" using this book. It is breathtakingly phony in that regard.
Narrator is very good but he did not bother to learn correct pronunciation of Russian names of hotels, cities etc. If he would give a bottle of Vodka with caviar to any russian drunkard with fur hat and ask him to help, he would do much better job:).
It is a really great story! The narrator makes it an unpleasant listen. He mumbles, sighs, swallows, and breathes audibly. He also mispronounces most Russian words and names, and by doing this brings down the quality. There are a lot of native Russian speakers that would be happy to collaborate on getting the pronunciation right. In the very least there is Google. The narration should be re-done to do this book justice.
Are we there yet?
I love Gorky Park. It is gloomy, depressing, futile, exciting, scary, and oh, so Soviet! Investigator Arkady Renko is one of the best fictional cops in book land. When three faceless bodies are found in the snow, Arkady has his work cut out for him. The gloomy setting, red tape, corruption of just about everyone only adds to the story. If there is such a thing as a perfect Soviet whodunnit, this is it. Get ready for lots of cigarettes, vodka, interrogators, twists, turns, and a complicated plot. I love all the Arkady Rdnko stories. This is my second favorite after Wolves Eat Dogs.
The story was fine, I guess...but the reading by Strozier left me confused as to what was happening and who was who. This was due to the fact every character sounded the same.