Books by Martin Cruz Smith

Released: Nov. 5, 2019

"This is vintage Martin Cruz Smith. Fans of Arkady Renko will be pleased."
The latest in the Russian crime series featuring detective Arkady Renko (Tatiana, 2013, etc.) takes the reader to forlorn Siberia and frozen Lake Baikal. Read full book review >
THE GIRL FROM VENICE by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: Oct. 18, 2016

"This is a thoughtful and engrossing novel with more than enough action to keep the pages turning."
After his Russian Arkady Renko series (Tatiana, 2013, etc.), Smith spins a tale about an Italian fisherman and the Jewish girl he finds floating in the sea. Read full book review >
TATIANA by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: Nov. 12, 2013

"Anyone who enjoys crime novels but hasn't read Smith is in for a treat. Read this book, then look for other Arkady Renko adventures."
In Smith's latest Arkady Renko novel, the Russian investigator seeks the truth about a young reporter's apparent suicide. Read full book review >
STALIN’S GHOST by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: June 12, 2007

"Smith's lawless modern Russia continues to prove as terrifying as the Cold-War state. Possibly scarier."
The excellent Russian detective Arkady Renko investigates supposed sightings of Josef Stalin in the Moscow subway, getting himself shot in the head in the process. Read full book review >
WOLVES EAT DOGS by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: Nov. 9, 2004

"As always, Smith (December 6, 2002, etc.) imagines a Russia that is sad, broken, and, somehow, romantically irresistible."
In his first outing in five years, Arkady Renko (Havana Bay, 1999, etc.) goes to the forbidden zone around post-disaster Chernobyl, where wolves have returned. Read full book review >
12/6/2010 by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"Intelligent, jazzy, romantic, unbelievably tense, completely absorbing. Worth the wait."
War-ready Japan becomes as nostalgically wonderful as the doomed central Europe of Alan Furst in the latest masterwork from the author of Gorky Park. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

A memorable collection of 16 stories, edited with an insightful introduction by the accomplished Smith(Havana Bay, p.480, etc.), who also recently won the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers for his novel Rose. The group of distinguished, well-published, and, in most cases, well-known authors represented here includes the likes of Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, and Maupassant, going on to John D. MacDonald, John Jakes, John Lutz, Jean-Hugues Oppel, and Michael Collins. Just as varied as the talent, of course, are the adventures and their settings—the Adirondacks during the Reagan-period Cold War years; Los Angeles and the Tommy Dorsey swing era on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor; or Prussian-occupied Colombes, France, at the time of WWI, where Maupassant takes us fishing with two temporarily noncombatant foot soldiers. Mark Twain writes of a galloping case of what Smith describes as "spy fever" during the Civil War, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary crime sleuths, Holmes and Watson, lend their prodigious powers of detection to solving the puzzle of missing intelligence plans that in the wrong hands could threaten the British Admiralty. A timeless potpourri and hours of great reading in digestible portions for professional and amateur spy-meisters alike. Read full book review >
HAVANA BAY by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: June 1, 1999

The welcome return of one of the two (along with George Smiley) most memorable characters in modern thrillers. Arkady Renko, the smart, humane, often despairing but idealistic and persistent Moscow detective introduced in Gorky Park (1981) and brought back in Polar Star (1989) and Red Square (1992) is still attempting to nail the bad guys. But in chaotic post—Soviet Russia, a world where the villains seem to be proliferating, his job keeps getting harder. Still reeling from a personal tragedy (likely to unsettle devoted readers of the series), Arkady seizes the opportunity to leave Moscow for a brief trip to Havana. His old acquaintance Pribluda, a KGB bureaucrat, has apparently turned up dead in the harbor. But is it Pribluda? The body is too decayed to allow definite identification. The Cubans, struggling to survive in a world without the Soviet Union, have a barely restrained loathing for Russians and no great interest in investigating the death. Arkady, who's contemplating suicide and feeling useless and lost, is energized—hours after having entered Cuba—by an attempt on his life. He manages to kill his attacker, thereby becoming a figure of considerable interest to the small Russian diplomatic community and various factions in the Cuban government. With the help of Ofelia Osorio, a bright, competent, maverick policewoman, Arkady begins to sort out the tangled threads of the case. Smith has always demonstrated a genius for detail, and his powers are working at their peak here; his portraits of a threadbare, vibrant Havana, the various classes in Castro's classless Cuba, and the resilient, sardonic Cuban response to an impoverished existence, are vivid, assured, and convincing. Smith has also always had a genius for complex conspiracies, and the one that Arkady and Ofelia uncover is typically audacious and believable. The climax, as Arkady struggles for his life in the waters of Havana Bay, is masterfully paced. A strong, satisfying addition to one of the most memorable and idiosyncratic series of modern thrillers. (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection; Author tour) Read full book review >
ROSE by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: May 1, 1996

Smith (Red Square, 1992, etc.) not only sets his exuberant, sly new novel in Victorian England but goes Victorian novelists one better, conjuring up a plot device at the heart of this mystery that Dickens would envy. Set in the town of Wigan, in Lancashire, this latest from Smith doesn't simply evoke the past, it plunges us into the gritty reality of a mid-19th-century community dominated by its vast coal mines. We learn an extraordinary amount about the brutal world of mining, but more importantly we come to feel a part of Wigan, so actual do its streets and inhabitants seem. It's this dense world that lingers: The plot is, with its one exception, a rather unsurprising mystery. Jonathan Blair, a mining engineer and explorer who has returned from Africa under a cloud (there are rumors of fraud), is summoned by his erstwhile employer, Bishop Hannay (who owns much of Wigan, including its largest coal mine), and set on the trail of the fianceÇ of Hannay's daughter Charlotte. John Maypole, a fervent young minister, had disappeared on the same day that an explosion in Hannay's mine killed 75 men. Charlotte, bright, acerbic, radical, takes an immediate dislike to the laconic Blair. He, in turn, is fascinated by Rose Molyneux, a remarkably independent ``pit girl'' (women employed by the mines, pit girls are notorious in England for their clothes—they wear trousers under vestigial dresses—and the supposed easiness of their morals). Blair is menaced by two miners, blithe sadists determined to stop his inquiry. A dogged, shrewd investigator, he takes a huge amount of punishment before uncovering Maypole's sad fate. And, in the midst of a dangerous affair with Rose, he discovers the remarkable scheme linking her and Charlotte Hannay. It's a dazzling moment. Blair, Rose, and Smith's other characters are wonderful creations, robust and distinctive. The crimes here are unremarkable, but the world evoked is memorable, glowing with life. (Author tour) Read full book review >
RED SQUARE by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: Nov. 1, 1992

Inspector Arkady Renko, banished to a Soviet factory-ship in Polar Star (1989), returns to Moscow on the eve of the Coup—and steps into the kind of intrigue, atmosphere, and excitement not seen from Smith since Renko's megaselling debut in Gorky Park (1981). The winds of glasnost may have blown the insubordinate Renko back from exile, but they've also stirred up the Soviet Union's criminal class, which now rules the land hand-in-crooked-hand with the Party's panicking elite—as shown in the mesmerizing opening scene that has Renko meeting with an informer at Moscow's thriving nighttime black market. Minutes after Renko exits the informer's car, it explodes under the impact of two bombs. Why? Renko pursues leads that take him on a spellbinding tour of Moscow (here, a starving city spinning out of control) as he encounters the new Soviet capitalism (a shady entrepreneur who, with green paint and cutout trees, has transformed a bullet-casing factory into an indoor golfing range); the new Soviet mafia (the Chechens, Muslim gangsters ruled by a withered devil named Makhmud); and the old, power-grasping rear guard. A mysterious fax sends Renko chasing a further lead abroad to Munich, where he reunites with Irina, his forsaken lover from Gorky Park. Here, the narrative slackens into a lovers' awkward waltz between Renko and Irina, and between Renko and the material temptations of the West—though it picks up with a sidetrip to Berlin, the ghastly murder of Makhmud, and revelations of stolen art treasures at the root of the killings. The action climaxes on a note of astonishing grace and hope back in Moscow, as Renko concludes his case and joins the radiant masses facing down the tanks on the steps of Boris Yeltsin's White House. A bit long and choppy, but brimming with political insight and psychological nuance, and a powerful reaffirmation of Renko's love/hate for Russia as one of the great romances of thriller fiction. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for December) Read full book review >
POLAR STAR by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: July 17, 1989

A Gorky Park sequel that finds Arkady Renko, disgraced Moscow cop-hero of that 1981 best seller, hiding out on a Russian factory ship (the Polar Star)—and up to his dour ears in an intricately textured but slow-drifting mess of murder, drug smuggling, and political intrigue. Tossed into a psychiatric ward for the "political unreliability" he evinced in Gorky Park, Arkady has escaped to Siberia and is now toiling on the "slime line" of a giant floating food-processing plant, part of a joint Soviet-US venture in the Bering Strait. When the stabbed body of female crew member Zina Patiashvili surfaces with the fishing nets, the ship's captain asks reluctant Arkady to investigate. Troubles crowd in at once: pressure from the Ship's political officer to declare the murder an accident or suicide; resentment by crews both Yank and Russian of Arkady's bulldogged questioning; a scary attempt by unknown assasilants on Arkady's life by locking him into a deep-freezer. A docking by the Polar Star at the American base of Dutch Harbor brings a second attempt and reveals a mortal enemy—Karp Korobetz, a hard-core criminal whom Arkady arrested for murder years before in Moscow and who now locks Arkady into a burning cabin. But fire proves no more fatal than ice to our hero, who busts out and who, as the Polar Star heads north into the ice pack, divides his time between hiding from Karp (most effectively, in the bed of American crew rep Susan Hightower); unraveling an espionage subplot; and digging out Zina's killer—not Karp, but one of Karp's Yank partners in a drug-smuggling conspiracy. Two violent deaths—one a bizarre suicide—climax the novel and lead to Arkady's professional and political redemption. As with Gorky Park, here it's the myriad glimpses of Soviet life that matter most: the Christmas-like wonder on the faces of Soviet sailors surveying electronic goods in an American store; the psychological insights ("Russian men saw themselves as wolves, lean and wild"), the details of food, talk, sex. But gone is the prequel's vigor and kink, and Arkady's charisma too: he's fully fleshed but tired, just like the mystery/suspense element. A distinguished chiller, then, but not a particularly enjoyable one—like good vodka gone warm. Read full book review >
GORKY PARK by Martin Cruz Smith
Released: April 1, 1981

If this essentially conventional suspense plot—police procedural with government coverups—were set in Washington, it would add up to well-written, unremarkable entertainment. But Smith (Nightwing) places his thriller in Moscow; and though one isn't always fully convinced of his political authenticity or his characters' genuine Russian-ness, there's enough irreverent, uncliched local Soviet color here—more than in any recent US popular fiction—to lift the proceedings to a near-compelling level. Three bodies have been found under frozen snow in Moscow's congenial Gorky Park: the faces have been carved away, the fingertips removed, the teeth shattered; there are no clues to their identity except a foreign (US?) tooth filling, the ice-skates on the dead feet, and dust suggesting a connection to the forged-ikon black-market. So Chief Homicide Investigator Arkady Renko—a war hero's son and a bad Party member (his unfaithful wife is a good Party member)—zeroes in on Moscow's foreign visitors, on the black-market, on movie-company employee Irina (owner of one of the pairs of skates). And his hunches almost immediately fix on sleek US fur-importer John Osborne—hunches confirmed by the subsequent murder of a black-marketeer witness. But why would rich Osborne kill for some semi-valuable ikons? And though two of the victims seem to have been Siberian, what of the American victim—whose brother (a N.Y. cop who lavishes scorn on Arkady's methods) is sleuthing around on his own? And why is the KGB—or Arkady's boss—obstructing the investigation? (A KGB man steals the reconstructed head of one of the victims.) The answer is sable, Russia's choicest monopoly; but Arkady's shrewd detection merely lands him in KGB custody. And in the States-side finale (a Staten Island shootout) he and new-love Irina become pawns as Russia tries to get back its precious animals from wily thief Osborne. . . . An only-serviceable plot, rather too talkily slow-paced; and the Arkady/Irina romance is shrill (political) and unconvincing. But the textures are the point here—dour humor, the everydayness of paranoia, caviar in the steambath (for some), dirty snow and red tape—and they're richly specific enough to make this a special sort of suspense treat: bitter-cold and vodka-sharp. Read full book review >