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."

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