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Tatiana (Arkady Renko Novels)by Martin Cruz Smith
Synopses & Reviews
Arkady Renko, one of the iconic investigators of contemporary fiction, has survived the cultural journey from the Soviet Union to the New Russia, only to find the nation as obsessed with secrecy and brutality as was the old Communist dictatorship. In Tatiana, the melancholy hero — cynical, analytical, and quietly subversive — unravels a mystery as complex and dangerous as modern Russia itself.
The fearless reporter Tatiana Petrovna falls to her death from a sixth-floor window in Moscow the same week that a mob billionaire, Grisha Grigo-renko, is shot and buried with the trappings due a lord. No one else makes the connection, but Arkady is transfixed by the tapes he discovers of Tatiana's voice describing horrific crimes in words that are at odds with the Kremlin's official versions.
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. Finally, in a lethal race to uncover what the translator knew, Arkady makes a startling discovery that draws him still deeper into Tatiana's past — and, paradoxically, into Russia's future, where bulletproof cars, poets, corruption of the Baltic Fleet, and a butcher for hire combine to give Kaliningrad the "distinction" of having the highest crime rate in Russia.
More than a mystery, Tatiana is Martin Cruz Smith's most ambitious and politically daring novel since Gorky Park. It is a story rich in character, black humor, and romance, with an insight that is the hallmark of a writer the New York Times has called "endlessly entertaining and deeply serious... [not merely] our best writer of suspense, but one of our best writers, period."
"New York Times Bestseller Smith is that uncommon phenomenon: a popular and well-regarded crime novelist who is also a writer of real distinction....Based, in part, on Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human rights activist...[Tatiana] is one of Smith's strongest...lending the narrative much of its moral and emotional substance....Over the years, [Renko] has developed into one of the most appealing characters in crime fiction....Perhaps most important, Tatiana showcases Smith's ability to convey the frustrating, frequently absurd nature of daily life in a fractured, tragic and traumatized country. Taken as a whole, the Arkady Renko series offers something unique in modern literature: an evolving vision of a complex society struggling, often futilely, to rise above the ruins of its own calamitous history." Washington Post
"It would be a treat to watch the evening news with Martin Cruz Smith's fabulist's eye and see current events colorized through Renko's dramatic filter. In Tatiana, Smith continues the tradition he began at the end of the Brezhnev era with Gorky Park, using Russia as his game board to make geopolitical conspiracy, well... fun. Tatiana ought to come with a decoder ring so readers who share the author's fondness for brainteasers can try to crack the translator's code on their own. Then again, struggling slowly from benighted dread into the glimmering dawn of fictional resolution is the reward of reading an Arkady Renko thriller. Figuring everything out too quickly would only spoil the game." Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
"Masterful...Renko is one of the most compelling characters in modern fiction, sarcastic, quietly heroic, humble, depressive yet with a romantic's eye of a future that could be....Smith's writing conveys irony, social commentary and wry humor." USA Today
"With gallows humor and a soulful mortality, Smith has conjured another irresistible adventure for one of crime fiction's great detectives." People
"Exquisite....Darkly romantic....Tatiana is as tight, vivid, and haunting as any of the other installments in Smith's consistently first-rate series." San Francisco Chronicle
"Absorbing....A gripping story with an ingenious twist and an interestingly complicated hero....Smith's Renko series stands out from the pack in several ways. For starters, Smith has a gift for creating sympathetic and believable characters that are miles ahead of the cardboard figures found in run-of-the-mill crime fiction. More profoundly, the books act as a kind of vivid timeline. We see, through both history and fiction, thirty years' worth of wrenching changes." The Seattle Times
"Smith is a master storyteller, delivering sharp dialogue, a tight plot, memorable descriptions and an understated hero in Arkady Renko. Anyone who enjoys crime novels but hasn't read Smith is in for a treat." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Riveting...Smith spins a complex plot involving the Russian mafia, a teenage genius struggling to crack the code of Petrovna's notebook, and an excursion to Kaliningrad....The most intriguing 'character' after Renko is contemporary Russia — freer than it was at the height of the cold war, but at least as corrupt and vastly more unequal — into which Smith offers many insights." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
In Tatiana, Martin Cruz Smith, “the master of the international thriller” (The New York Times) creates the most compelling heroine of his career and the most realistic, damning portrait of modern Russia in contemporary literature.
One of the iconic investigators of contemporary fiction, Arkady Renko — cynical, analytical, and quietly subversive — has survived the cultural journey from the Soviet Union to the New Russia, only to find the nation as obsessed with secrecy and brutality as was the old Communist dictatorship. In Tatiana, Martin Cruz Smith’s most ambitious novel since Gorky Park, the melancholy hero finds himself on the trail of a mystery as complex and dangerous as modern Russia herself.
The fearless investigative reporter Tatiana Petrovna falls to her death from a sixth-floor window in Moscow the same week that a mob billionaire, Grisha Grigorenko, is shot and buried with the trappings due a lord. No one makes the connection, but Arkady is transfixed by the tapes he discovers of Tatiana’s voice, even as she describes horrific crimes hidden by official versions.
The trail leads to Kaliningrad, a Cold War “secret city” and home of the Baltic Fleet, separated by hundreds of miles from the rest of Russia. Arkady delves into Tatiana’s past and a surreal world of wandering dunes and amber mines. His only link is a notebook written in the personal code of a translator whose body is found in the dunes. Arkady’s only hope of decoding the symbols lies in Zhenya, a teenage chess hustler.
More than a mystery, Tatiana is a story rich in character, black humor, and romance, with an insight that is the hallmark of Martin Cruz Smith.
About the Author
Martin Cruz Smith’s novels include Stalin’s Ghost, Gorky Park, Rose, December 6, Polar Star, and Stallion Gate. A two-time winner of the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers and a recipient of Britain’s Golden Dagger Award, he lives in California.
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