I am a big fan of this author. His book Rose is incredible. This novel however seems to wander a bit and just doesn't carry that ability the author has to immerse us in the character that he has demonstrated so well in the past. Wish it had been better because I really am a fan and wait for any new novels by this author
If you want to get to know "Russia" and Arkady Renko, don't start here - go directly to Gorky Park and then especially through Wolves Eat Dogs (one of the most captivating novels I've listened to in awhile - the section on the how and why of Chernobyl? Compelling and frightening...) and then there's this. Just a blip in the 3/5 category, I hope, until the next one. It's still good only because it is Renko: the life and times of the top five best detective series out there (inc. Dave Robicheaux, etc). Too much sideline, not enough Arakady, though, and what makes Moscow really tick. I am hoping for more and remain optimistic of better from Martin Cruz Smith.....a great reader is provided in this series, but not a great manuscript.
I am a long-time Arkady Renko fan and have always found the adventures easy escapism. You never have to think too hard with these novels, which is nice, but there's always enough intrigue and context to keep you engaged. And here, with Three Stations, there's...well...nothing to write home about. The characters and motivations - even Arkady's - are superficial to non-existent. The plot lines, really three intertwined minor plots thrown together, are uninteresting and unconvincing. Overall just dull. I kept waiting for something to happen. Then when "something" did happen it was just as uninteresting as when nothing was happening. It was like the adventures of Al Gore and Dan Qualye boozing it up in Russia, or a bad episode of Columbo. The narrator is fine, but he had little content to work with. I normally don't spend credits on short 7 hour listens, but figured it was worth it here to re-visit an old friend. Old friend never showed. Rest well Arkady. It was nice knowing you.
pros and cons
i am a huge fan of Smith's Renko novels. Gorkey Park is one of my favorite thrillers of all time. This was a disappointment though. it really felt like the book was being phoned in. weak on character development, weak on plot, low on surprises. Renko isn't even as cynical as we have come to expect. i'm still looking forward to the next one thought....
The most boring for me from the series about russian detective.Seems like the author had a hard time making up a story.
This novel is not in the same league as earlier work. The plots are thrown together and although all is made well in the end, you feel that the author just wanted to finish it all in a hurry. The characters are also astonishingly poorly drawn, with no depth at all. Spend your money elsewhere,,,
While not quite as good as some of the previous Renko books, I was caught up with this one and I enjoyed some of the fresh elements. Zhenya was a pleasant surprise- based on his personality in a previous book I thought he would be an annoying character to follow, but he was sympathetic without changing his fundamental nature. The author also doesn't rely heavily on a love triangle the way he did in many of the books.
Cruz Smith switches expertly between multiple POVs, some of them unexpected, always advancing the plot and never wasting time catching one character up with what the reader already knows. Everything seemed ready to come to a head nicely. Unfortunately the last quarter of the book falters. People return from disgrace with no explanation, key characters are not mentioned for several chapters running. There are also a lot of coincidences and reuse of characters, making Moscow seem a lot smaller than it should.
I still rate it as a good listen, and if you are prepared accept some coincidences and a resolution that felt rushed, there are plenty of good moments and memorable characters. The reader does a good job with it. I'm looking forward to the next one.
The story was shorter, thinner, and not as engrossing as Cruz Smith's early powerful books (Gorky Park, Polar Star, and Red Square). I love the narration of the previous books by Henry Strozier, so listening to Ron McLarty's was a bit disappointing. He doesn't capture the weary cynicism nearly so well and all the voices sound precisely the same, so you're never quite sure who's talking
Martin Cruz Smith's stories are always a great read.
The narrator for this book as not nearly as good as the one for the prior books. His voice and voices do not fit with the story and characters in this book.
Initial story draws you in, but last half deteriorates. solution was superficial and lacked context. One of very few books I would return if I had not listened to it too late.