A Russian Murder Mystery…
What is the Arkady Renko series about?
Written by American author Martin Cruz Smith, this series is about Arkady Renko, a chief homicide inspector for the prosecutor’s office, in Moscow, Russia, fighting against corruption and for the truth.
Taking place before, during, and after the fall of the Soviet Union, the series follows Arkady Renko as he investigates murders that take him in the middle of complex socio-political situations. Paying the price of opposing those who have the power is something he is much too familiar with.
How to read the Arkady Renko Books in Order?
- Gorky Park – It begins with a triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three corpses found frozen in the snow, faces, and fingers missing. To identify the victims and uncover the truth, Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko must battle the KGB, FBI, and the New York City police as he pursues a rich, ruthless, and well-connected American fur dealer.
- Polar Star – He made too many enemies. He lost his party membership. Arkady Renko now toils in obscurity on a Russian factory ship working with American trawlers in the middle of the Bering Sea. But when an adventurous female crew member is picked up dead with the day’s catch, Renko is ordered by his captain to investigate an accident that has all the marks of murder.
- Red Square – Back from exile in the hellish reaches of the Soviet Union, Arkady Renko discovers that his country, his Moscow, and even his job, are nearly dead. But his enemies are very much alive, and foremost among them are the powerful black-market crime lords of the Russian mafia. Hounded by this terrifying new underworld, chased by the ruthless minions of the newly rich and powerful, and tempted by his great love, defector Irina Asanova, Arkady can only hope desperately for escape. But fate has something else in store.
- Havana Bay – When the corpse of a Russian is hauled from the oily waters of Havana Bay, Arkady Renko comes to Cuba to identify the body. Looking for the killer, he discovers a city of faded loneliness, unexpected danger, and bewildering contradictions. His investigation introduces him to a beautiful Cuban policewoman; to the rituals of Santeria; to an American fugitive and a group of ruthless mercenaries. In this place where all things Russian are despised, where the KGB flourished, where the hint of music is always in the air, Arkady finds a trail of deceit that reaches halfway around the world–and a reason to relish his own life again.
- Wolves Eat Dogs – Renko returns for his most enigmatic and baffling case yet: the death of one of Russia’s new billionaires, which leads him to Chernobyl and the Zone of Exclusion-closed to the world since 1986’s nuclear disaster. It is still aglow with radioactivity, now inhabited only by the militia, shady scavengers, a few reckless scientists, and some elderly peasants who refuse to relocate. Renko’s journey to this ghostly netherworld, the crimes he uncovers there, and the secrets they reveal about the New Russia make for an unforgettable adventure.
- Stalin’s Ghost – Investigator Arkady Renko has been assigned the thankless job of investigating a new phenomenon: late-night subway riders report seeing the ghost of Joseph Stalin on the platform of the Chistye Prudy Metro station. The illusion seems part political hocus-pocus and also part wishful thinking, for among many Russians Stalin is again popular; the bloody dictator can boast a two-to-one approval rating. 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.
- Three Stations – Though he has been technically suspended from the prosecutor’s office, Arkady Renko 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.
- Tatiana – The reporter Tatiana Petrovna falls to her death from a sixth-floor window in Moscow the same week that a mob billionaire is shot and buried with the trappings due to a lord. 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 children, and a notebook written in the personal code of a dead translator.
- The Siberian Dilemma – Journalist Tatiana Petrovna is on the move. Arkady Renko, iconic Moscow investigator, and Tatiana’s part-time lover, hasn’t seen her since she left on assignment over a month ago. When she doesn’t arrive on her scheduled train, he’s positive something is wrong. No one else thinks Renko should be worried-Tatiana is known to disappear during deep assignments-but he knows her enemies all too well and the criminal lengths they’ll go to keep her quiet. Renko embarks on a dangerous journey to find Tatiana and bring her back.
- Independence Square – Renko has been confined to a desk job by his superiors to keep him out of the way. Although he’s more disillusioned with policing and the general state of Russia than ever, he feels an odd sense of hope. A rebellion is bubbling in the country, with new values butting heads against old-school regimes. People want change and politician Leonid Lebedev could be the man to do it. When Karina, a staunch supporter of Lebedev and member of the Forum, goes missing, Renko is asked by her father to find her. Soon after his investigation begins, Alex, a close friend of Arkady’s son, is found dead. He was also a member of the Forum.