Arkady Renko is a literary detective who takes us on tumultuous journey through modern Russian political history – the intrigue and the frightening pathos – from a gruesome triple murder in Gorky Park to the death of the fearless investigative reporter, Tatiana, the newest installment in the series and the title character.
Martin Cruz Smith introduced Chief Inspector of the Soviet Militsya, Arkady Renko, in the dark, brooding thriller, Gorky Park, way back in 1981. Renko was a textbook lesson in the long tradition of police procedurals, but more so for the use of forensic science in crime investigation – who can forget the scene with the professor, the maggots, and the human skull – long before CSI was a household acronym and a staple of television and novels.
In 1983 a movie adaption of Gorky Park hit theaters, with William Hurt playing Renko and a memorable and magnificent performance by Lee Marvin as a charming, chilling, predatory American businessman. I watched it again last year and it has held up better than most 80s movies. That’s why it took me by surprise that I had missed the release of Tatiana by a year. I’m a longtime fan after all. I know Smith has sold a boatload of Renko novels, but reading him still feels a little like discovering a hidden artistic gem before the rest of the world discovers such a superb talent. [Read more…]