By Martin Cruz Smith
Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781439140215, 292pp.
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
List Price: $25.99*
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Arkady Renko, one of the iconic inves-tigators of contemporary fiction, has survived the cultural journey from the Soviet Union to the New Russia, only to find the nation as obsessed with secrecy and brutality as was the old Communist dictatorship. In "Tatiana," the melancholy hero--cynical, analytical, and quietly subversive--unravels a mystery as complex and dangerous as modern Russia itself.
The fearless reporter Tatiana Petrovna falls to her death from a sixth-floor window in Moscow the same week that a mob billionaire, Grisha Grigo-renko, is shot and buried with the trappings due a lord. No one else makes the connection, but Arkady is transfixed by the tapes he discovers of Tatiana's voice describing horrific crimes in words that are at odds with the Kremlin's official versions.
The trail leads to Kaliningrad, a Cold War "secret city" that is separated by hundreds of miles from the rest of Russia. The more Arkady delves into Tatiana's past, the more she leads him into a surreal world of wandering sand dunes, abandoned chil-dren, and a notebook written in the personal code of a dead translator. Finally, in a lethal race to uncover what the translator knew, Arkady makes a startling discovery that draws him still deeper into Tatiana's past--and, paradoxically, into Russia's future, where bulletproof cars, poets, corruption of the Baltic Fleet, and a butcher for hire combine to give Kaliningrad the "distinction" of having the highest crime rate in Russia.
More than a mystery, "Tatiana" is Martin Cruz Smith's most ambitious and politically daring novel since "Gorky Park." It is a story rich in character, black humor, and romance, with an insight that is the hallmark of a writer the "New York Times" has called "endlessly entertaining and deeply serious . . . not merely] our best writer of suspense, but one of our best writers, period.
Praise for Three Stations
“Three Stations . . . is filled with stunning prose. Such is the journey of every Smith novel: a mixture of undeniably artful prose alongside a sharp-witted and masterfully entertaining plot. With a tip of the hat to Smith himself, all that’s left to say is this: All novels should be as dark and mysterious and entertaining as Three Stations; all series should be so consistently excellent; all prose should be so dazzling; and all writers so talented as Martin Cruz Smith.”
“Engrossing. . . Three Stations delivers a satisfying punch.”
“Smith is at heart a deeply moral writer, and beneath his wry, cynical tone you can feel his authorial anger twitching a safe distance away. Paired with what reads deceptively like a native’s knowledge of Russia, it makes for a potent brew. . . . At times the writing mesmerizes with its originality. . . . Long live Renko.”
“By the time Three Stations’ intertwining story strands wind tightly together, a read has come to care about or marvel at the book’s various characters as much as (it’s clear) their author does. The more travails Smith’s long-suffering inspector suffers, the harder we root for him.”
“Smith’s point hits the mark with requisite force. . . . Basic human behavior—especially the worst of it—is so deeply embedded into psychological fabric that the same battles are waged even when the monsters keep shifting shapes.”
“Smith is a first-rate popular novelist, and this is one of his best books: tightly plotted, well-constructed, with a host of memorable secondary characters. . . . Smith is always an inventive storyteller, and he brings this setting vividly to life.”