On Martin Cruz Smith and His New Arkady Renko Novel

My review of Martin Cruz Smith’s newest novel featuring his iconic Russian detective, Arkady Renko, appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times (but was only put online this afternoon.) Here’s how the piece opens:

Russia may be nearly 20 years removed from the end of Soviet Communist rule,

but the latest events in that country truly bring home the phrase “the

more things change, the more they stay the same.” Spies are still trying

to infiltrate American soil, albeit with the help of social media and

encrypted Wi-Fi connections. The Kremlin still all but controls the flow

of media, and don’t use the words “election” and “democracy” or you’ll

be laughed out of Moscow. There’s more money for the rich to throw around, and the underworld

swells larger with more small- and big-time criminals on the make.

In other words, contemporary Russia is still a prime setting for crime fiction, rife with narrative avenues for a detective to wander down at

his or her peril. For Martin Cruz Smith in particular, Russia has proved

to be a rich mine for more than three decades, never ceasing to provide

tales of corruption, abuse and world-weary observation for his iconic

protagonist, Arkady Renko, to investigate.

Read on for the rest, and for comparison purposes, see Olen Steinhauer’s rave review of the book that graced last weekend’s cover of the NYTBR.