Ex-Chief Investigator Arkady Renko is in deep on the “slime line” - the fish-gutting station - in the Polar Star, a Soviet fish factory ship of some 250 souls, almost as many secrets, and a dangerous shipboard sub-culture that cares little for the Party, and less for human life.
©1989 Martin Cruz Smith (P)1990 Recorded Books, LLC
The chief problem, so far as I was concerned, is that the murder victim is a complete cypher; the reader has no relationship with her whatsoever. What this leads to is a sense where I truly lost interest in the "whodunit" aspect ... I essentially didn't care who killed her.
It was boring. The main character wanders around trying to solve the mystery that none of the other characters care about, and don't want to investigate. For most of the book, the protagonist doesn't care who did it.By about a third of the story, I didn't care who did it.
None of them. But Muller's performance was still the best part of a bad effort.
The setting was interesting, and the bleakness of the arctic circle complemented the Soviet state and the desperation of the characters. Except for Muller, that's it.
I really enjoyed this book a lot even though it was a little slow at times. I did read Gorky Park as well and actually liked Polar Star more.
Especially the setting of the book at the end of the Cold War and a good ole spy story at it's core. Good stuff.
Martin Cruz Smith at the top of his game and the incomparable Frank Muller: what could be better. ( Muller is, IMHO, the greatest narrator. If you can find it listen to his performances of anything by le Carre', especially the "Smiley" cycle. And get his performance of "Motherless Brooklyn"; he is perfection.) The story of Renko, disgraced Moscow investigator working on the "slime line" of a Russian fish trawler is wonderfully claustrophobic and yet expansive. I can't recommend this book enough.
I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.
I preferred this so much to anything else I have tried by Martin Cruz Smith. I liked the main character and the confinement of the ship was well captured. I really enjoyed this a great deal.
Fine art photographer, retired English professor, dog mom to an adorable Maltese mix, long-time Californian, genealogist, what else?
This might be a good book to take on a hot summer vacation, because it is *cold*. The mystery, which takes place on a fishing ship in the Arctic Ocean, is intriguing, the details of the culture fascinating, and the disgraced detective (from Gorky Park) a great character. I've always been interested in Russia, and I don't know how Martin Cruz Smith does it, but he creates a world that seems authentic to me, a non-Russian. Excellent listening.
The sequel to Gorky Park is really an interesting book, and deserves the high praise from most reviewers. I liked it through the slow first chapters, and then loved it through the main part of the story, but was so disappointed at the end.
Although the main plot centers around the death of a beautiful worker on the ship named Zina (was she murdered or did she commit suicide?) - there are many sub plots. As the only one on board who has any investigative experience, Arkady is pulled off the "slime line" to find out what happened. However, he has run into a former bad guy who he had previously helped put behind bars, and this part of the story didn't ring true to me. I just didn't buy the conclusion of what happened with him. I don't want to say more, as it would spoil the end, but I wonder if any other reviewers felt the same way?
Frank Muller does an excellent job of narrating, which made listening to the book a real joy.
Gorky Park - excellent follow up.
I couldn't stop listening. I honestly felt like I was out at sea in the Polar Star. The story and narration made me feel like I was trapped in tiny rooms, looking over my shoulder for surprises and elated to step foot on Dutch Harbor.
Excellent book. I hope a follow up comes out.
Listen to a lot of audio books driving across the wide open spaces of Nevada during monthly 450 mile trips to and from Las Vegas.
5 stars all the way! Should have been a bit more frugal with my 5-star ratings for other books I've enjoyed to save them for this one. I loved the writing, the story, and the performance by Frank Muller. Well worth it.
The Polar Star is rusty factory ship working together with american trawlers in the Bering sea. A dead women is caught in the net, and the scene is set for an artic game between spys, commissars, smugglers and the political unstable Arkady Renko (the protagonist from Gorky Park).
A decaying soviet state entering perestroika makes a great setting for any crime novel – all in all an entertaining read by Martin Cruz Smith.
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