The illusion seems part political hocus-pocus and part wishful thinking, for among many Russians Stalin is again popular - the bloody dictator can boast a two-to-one approval rating. That's decidedly better than that of Renko, whose lover, Eva, has left him for Detective Nikolai Isakov, a charismatic veteran of the civil war in Chechnya, a hero of the far right and, Renko suspects, a killer for hire. The cases entwine, and Renko's quests become a personal inquiry fueled by jealousy.
The investigation leads to the fields of Tver outside of Moscow, where once a million soldiers fought. There, amidst the detritus, Renko must confront the ghost of his own father, a favorite general of Stalin's. In these barren fields, patriots and shady entrepreneurs, the Red Diggers and Black Diggers, collect the bones, weapons, and personal effects of slain World War II soldiers, and find that even among the dead there are surprises.
©2007 Martin Cruz Smith; (P)2005 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
I don't think Martin Cruz Smith is capable of writing a bad book. But between the abridgement and the narrator's inability to pronounce Arkady, I really hated this one. I couldn't wait for it to be over, For me, all the quirky magic of his writing was obliterated by a very poor production. His books aren't that long. Could it not have been unabridged and ready by someone else?
I really have a problem with the narrator of an audiobook mispronounces words. In the case of this book, the mispronunciation happens to be the name of the protagonist, Arkady Renko, so you get to hear it every other line or so! It's ar-KAD-ee. It is most definitely not ARK-a-dee. You'd think the producer would get the simple things right, but I guess that's asking too much. I can't believe that Martin Cruz Smith actually listened to this recording.
Enjoyed most of previous Renko novels but this was disjointed. Transitions from one scene to another are not obvious, the reader is barely adquate, the multi-plots are confusing. Rather than understanding the sequence of events, character names, place names, etc. I just let it flow and hoped to pick up the pieces along the way. Not an easy read or listen.
Great story..and esp.thrilling that my favorite detective didn't totally lose his mind..in fact it prompted fascinating glimpses of his childhood with the chilling father -comrade of stalin. Good reader.
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