I'd recommend this book to a friend who has already read all the arkady renko novels and is wondering whether or not to read the last one. Otherwise, not a chance.
When other arkady renko books ended there was that feeling of saying goodbye to an old friend. When this one ended - eh...
Totally the wrong voice. It came out of left field. It felt more like a NYC detective with Russian names rather than the Arkady I know - cynical and laced with amused irony (and perhaps a wee bit curmudgeon). The voice was actually distracting. Please, re-record it with Henry Strozier or Frank Muller. Though I prefered Strozier - they were both Arkady. McLarty definitely was not.
I found the story hard to follow and most of the characters not very interesting. I have read or listen to most of his novels and this one just didn't hold my interest.
Unfortunately, this book in the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith, doesn't hit the audible book mark. I was fortunate enough to have read this book, so when I bought it, I was looking forward to a great listen. Not so. Personally, I really didn't like the reader of the book. His flat delivery and slow cadence had me turning it off within 10 minutes. I jumped ahead to see if the reading got better, it did not.
I recommend you buy the book (and the entire, wonderful series). Skip the audio version-not worth the money or credit.
I've read all the Arkady Renko books and am a great fan. So even when MC Smith puts in a pedestrian effort, with minimal character development -- it's still worth a read. But it was also a disappointment given what Smith can do in terms of pulling you into a new setting (Three Stations is still in Moscow, guess I've been spoiled by recent excursions to Havana and Chernobyl). I even had to check to make sure this was an unbridged version because the book seemed to skip over chapters of character, place and plot development. And everything seemed to fall in Arkady's lap. Again, Smith is such a good writer that it's still worth a listen, but next one, please get back up to your usual speed.
Good character development. Lots of suggested linkages in plot segments. Plenty of people to "like" or "dislike". Goodly quantities of merciless, gratuitous gore. Not a bad read until the end. Then, it's as if Cruz took a look at his word processor statistics, discovered that he had written the contractually-required number of words and "finished' the book within the next half an hour. There are WAY too many loose ends and unresolved issues at the end of this book!
I've listened to all the unabridged novels by this author and found his writing to be humorous and biting. For me, the plot in this one is decent but secondary to the artful way in which he turns a phrase and comments on life in Russia. I've enjoyed other books narrated by Ron McLarty, including his own novels, but did not appreciate the Rhode Island accent transported to Russia. I liked Henry Strozier's reading much better, as McLarty's rendition made this more into a novel whose actions were taking place in America, or a Russia in which everyone spoke with a American accent.
Martin Cruz Smith has delivered another beautifully written Arkady Renko thriller. I don't know another author who so successfully combines gripping narrative, dry wit, social commentary and an insight on the human condition. I was almost dissuaded from buying this audiobook after reading some poorish reviews -but I'm so glad I went ahead. Some reviewers have critized the book for having a "hurried" ending. I didn't think that was true or fair. The plot does accelerate rapidly at the end but I liked the change of pace and there was no dropoff in the high standard of writing. I wasn't a huge fan of Ron McLarty's voice and narration to begin with but ultimately I think he did a fine job.
I have read every book he has written starting with Red Square but this is really not very good. Decent plot idea but the execution was weak and it fell apart at the end.