A woman known only as Maya traveling with an infant on a long train ride to Moscow mysteriously loses her child. Another young woman who looks similar is soon found dead lying in a corridor inside Three Stations, a massive maze of underground alleyways, subways, and train platforms that serve as the transportation hub for Russia’s capital. Everyone on Moscow’s police force ignores the frantic mother and dismisses the dead woman as just another prostitute who probably committed suicide everyone except Detective Arkady Renko.
Narrator Ron McLarty, who has also performed several other Renko books, takes on Martin Cruz Smith’s latest murder mystery. The Cold War may be decades old, but the air of intrigue lives on in Three Stations, where you’re never quite sure who’s on what side or who to trust. McLarty perfectly captures Smith’s sense of intrigue. He has a deep, determined voice, one that lends an air of seriousness and drama to Renko’s investigation. This tone works since the detective seems to be the only one taking everything seriously. Everyone else seems all too eager to dismiss the murder investigation and get back to enjoying life in post-Communist Moscow, a strange, other-worldly place populated by billionaires, schemers, prostitutes, thugs, and artists. But Renko refuses to jump to conclusions based on circumstantial evidence. And McLarty makes you believe he is wise to trust his investigative instincts.
Three Stations reveals a whole different side of Moscow that’s not included in tourism brochures. These once regal Stalinist train stations now seem to serve mainly as magnets for the city’s homeless and prostitutes. But rather than simply portraying these people as one-dimensional stereotypes, Smith breathes life into each character and presents them as unique people worthy of our attention. Renko takes the same approach, never assuming anything about anyone without facts to back up his theories, which makes him a great detective, and what ultimately makes Three Stations such a thrilling mystery. Ken Ross
A passenger train hurtling through the night. An unwed teenage mother headed to Moscow to seek a new life. A cruel-hearted soldier looking furtively, forcibly, for sex. An infant disappearing without a trace.
So begins Martin Cruz Smith’s masterful Three Stations, a suspenseful, intricately constructed novel featuring Investigator Arkady Renko.
For the last three decades, beginning with the trailblazing Gorky Park, Renko (and Smith) have captivated readers with detective tales set in Russia. Renko is the ironic, brilliantly observant cop who finds solutions to heinous crimes when other lawmen refuse to even acknowledge that crimes have occurred. He uses his biting humor and intuitive leaps to fight not only wrongdoers but the corrupt state apparatus as well.
In Three Stations, Renko’s skills are put to their most severe test. Though he has been technically suspended from the prosecutor’s office for once again turning up unpleasant truths, he strives to solve a last case: the death of an elegant young woman whose body is found in a construction trailer on the perimeter of Moscow’s main rail hub. It looks like a simple drug overdose to everyone—except to Renko, whose examination of the crime scene turns up some inexplicable clues, most notably an invitation to Russia’s premier charity ball, the billionaires’ Nijinksy Fair.
Thus a sordid death becomes interwoven with the lifestyles of Moscow’s rich and famous, many of whom are clinging to their cash in the face of Putin’s crackdown on the very oligarchs who placed him in power. Renko uncovers a web of death, money, madness. and a kidnapping that threatens the woman he is coming to love and the lives of children he is desperate to protect. In Three Stations, Smith produces a complex and haunting vision of an emergent Russia’s secret underclass of street urchins, greedy thugs, and a bureaucracy still paralyzed by power and fear.
Solve another case with Arkady Renko.
©2010 Titanic Productions. All rights reserved. (P)2010 Simon & Schuster
“[Smith] takes what in essence is a police procedural and elevates it to the level of absorbing fiction.” ( Los Angeles Times)
"A continuing adventure that in terms of popular fiction is surely a work of art.” (Washington Post)
"The sustained success of Smith’s Renko books is based on much more than Renko. This author’s gift for tart, succinct description creates a poisonous political backdrop, one that makes his characters’ survival skills as important as any of their other attributes. . . [This is] one top-flight series, still sharply honed, none the worse for wear.” (New York Times)
I’m a Martin Cruz Smith fan: “Polar Star,” “Gorkey Park” and “Red Square” are all excellent, with more than a few moments of brilliance. In fact the rest of the Arkady Renko books are worth it too… except this one “Three Stations.” When I got to the end I was sure that I had mistakenly purchased the abridged version… but not the case. The last 30 minutes left me with the impression that Smith was under pressure to just close down the plot lines and end the book. Disappointing.
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.
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