Saturday, January 8, 2011

Page 46: Three Stations

Martin Cruz Smith, in his seventh Arkady Renko novel Three Stations, brings us another look at the seamy side of Moscow and the criminals that flourish there.  This time Senior Investigator Arkady Renko is in danger of once again being fired for doing his job.  He steps on a lot of toes and searches for truth where those higher in the food chain don't want the truth to be discovered.

This time Arkady is involed in the investigation of the death of a prostitute.  His boss insists it was an overdose, but Arkady stubbornly pursues his instincts that tell him she was murdered.  His investigation leads him to a member of the Russian capitalist oligarchy that helps provide clues to the killing.  Arkady battles his boss as steps are taken to relieve him of his position.  To make matters more interesting, a young mother has her baby stolen about the same time as the death of the young prostitute, and the parallel plots play out as we are introduced to the characters who hang out at "Three Stations" also known as Komsomol Square in Moscow.

Several critics feel this is one the weaker novels in the series, but I think it is good enough since it provides a look at a side of Moscow you won't find in any of the travel brochures.  The writing is still excellent and the tenacity of Arkady is like a dog with a bone.  He hangs on for dear life when he believes he is right even if it means the end of his career.  All in all this is still a good Martin Cruz Smith novel.

Here is a review from Bookmarks Magazine:

"Taken together, notes the Cleveland Plain Dealer"Cruz's novels chart the political and social changes that have transformed the former Soviet Union over these last 30 years--and the banes of indolence, indifference and corruption that seem to survive every Russian regime." The capable Renko, of course, has followed right along, and he is still as adept as ever at exposing dishonesty and corruption. Critics agree that if Three Stations is not the best entry in the seven-part series, Cruz brings to harrowing life the world of prostitution rings, runaway children, street gangs, and corruption, and his writing dazzles. A few opine that Three Stations feels a little thin and rushed, but that is a minor complaint in a series that continues to follow, warily and intelligently, Russia's evolution."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Page 45: Dead or Alive

The last two months have been very busy.  I have been promoting my book, The Craft, but still trying to read more books.  My apologies to all of you who came to this site for the two month hiatus and found not a single new blog post.  With a new year just beginning I will once again be doing regular posts, at least until it's time to do my taxes. Here is the first with more to follow.

I just finished Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy along with Grant Blackwood.  The top secret private organization, the Campus, is back.  The search for the elusive terrorist, the Emir, is the main focus of the plot.  Jack Ryan Jr. is featured along with the other members of the Campus.  President Jack Ryan is also in this book, and the problem of his finding out what Jack Jr. is really doing is finally resolved.

John Clark and Ding Chavez participate in one last mission for Rainbow Six in Libya before they retire and return to CIA headquarters at Langley for further instructions.  The Agency has changed with the election of a new president. The two warriors find it being run by bureaucrats who are more interested in politics than national security.  They are summarily retired by the Agency.  However, both John and Ding are recruited by the Campus and jump right into the search for the Emir.  The plot is classic Tom Clancy and moves along at a very rapid pace.  The Emir is in the midst of planning several operations that, if successful, will create very major problems for the United States.  He is number one on the most wanted terrorist list and the staff at the Campus start unraveling threads they hope will lead to his capture or death.  Jack Ryan Jr's. cousins, Dominic and Brian Caruso, round out the cast of main characters involved in the search for the Emir and his fellow terrorists.

This is a chilling and all too possibly real story about terror attacks here at home and abroad.  If you are a Tom Clancy fan this is must reading.  He is back on his game!!

Here is one review of the book:

Los Angeles Times

"Clancy fans may regard "Dead or Alive" as rather like one of those NBA "dream teams" they throw together for the Olympics; win, lose or draw it's fun to see them all on the court. This time, the best characters from all Clancy's previous novels are on the case, including Jack Ryan and his son, Jack Ryan Jr.; the deadly John Clark (Jack senior's darker half); the Caruso brothers, Dominic and Brian; the ace intelligence analyst Mary Pat Foley; and even Clark's protégé, Ding Chavez. Their quarry is the "Emir," a Bin Laden-like terrorist in hiding after a series of horrific attacks on the United States by his Al Qaeda-like network...For fans of the genre, "Dead or Alive" is likely to provide a long weekend's pleasure..."--(Rutten, Tim)