Synopses & Reviews
Investigator Arkady Renko, the pariah of the Moscow prosecutor's office, 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.
The investigation leads to the fields of Tver outside of Moscow, where once a million soldiers fought. There, amidst the detritus, Renko must confront the ghost of his own father, a favorite general of Stalin's. In these barren fields, patriots and shady entrepreneurs the Red Diggers and Black Diggers collect the bones, weapons and personal effects of slain World War II soldiers, and find that even among the dead there are surprises.
"'Moscow-based Senior Investigator Arkady Renko, in his outstanding sixth outing (after Wolves Eat Dogs), investigates a murder-for-hire scheme that leads him to suspect two fellow police detectives, Nikolai Isakov and Marat Urman, both former members of Russia's elite Black Berets, who served in Chechnya. Isakov, a war hero, is now running for public office. Renko must also look into reports that the ghost of Stalin has begun appearing on subway platforms and why several bodies of Black Berets who served in Chechnya with Isakov have turned up in the morgue. Despite repeated threats to his life, Renko stubbornly perseveres, seeking justice in a land that has no official notion of that concept. Smith eschews vertiginous twists and surprises, concentrating instead on Renko as he slowly and patiently builds his case until the pieces fall together and he has again, if not exactly triumphed, at least survived. This masterful suspense novel casts a searing light on contemporary Russia. 250,000 first printing. (June)' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"
"From Gorky Park onward, this series has always been about the perils of digging...the treasures that Renko seeks always contain the seeds of his own destruction. But somehow digging his own grave is what keeps Renko alive and keeps us reading." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Smith has come up with one of his most accomplished performances yet and, as with each of its predecessors, takes what in essence is a police procedural and elevates it to the level of absorbing fiction." Los Angeles Times
"Smith's latest, exceptional sequel to Gorky Park is in a league of its own....In his remarkable new tale, the history lessons are not dogmatic or strident but suspenseful and, unlike the majority of sequels you read and soon forget, utterly enthralling." Rocky Mountain News
"Like all of the Arkady Renko novels, Stalin's Ghost is a page-turning thriller. And like those books, it is most effective when examining a society...that is still a mystery to most outsiders." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"[Smith's] plotlines are a few too many and too convoluted to sustain healthy disbelief....Smith is such a pro such a good, swift, engaging writer that you don't begrudge him the excess." Chicago Sun-Times
"While the plot goes on to be nastily Byzantine, and the view of contemporary Moscow is painstakingly real, what makes this deathfest a graceful reflection of human passion is the matching arcs of the lives of Arkady and Zhenya, a 12-year-old runaway who finds safe harbor with Arkady." Library Journal
"Now, more than two-and-a-half decades after meeting Arkady Renko, he is an even more interesting character, living up to the promise that he first showed in Gorky Park. Martin Cruz Smith deserves high accolades for his newest in the series." BookReporter.com
"In Stalin's Ghost
, author Martin Cruz Smith allows the laconic sleuth with the brooding Slavic psyche only his sixth outing in a quarter of a century. But fans of the Renko series focus on quality, not quantity....[A]s
is the case throughout the Renko series despite the neatly crafted plotline Smith spins for us, which includes a blood-soaked World War II battlefield and a pair of corrupt detectives who are also veterans of the war in Chechnya in the end it's the detective himself (and the country he loves in spite of it all) that intrigue us most." Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor
(read the entire CSM review
Gorky Park's Detective Arkady Renko returns to his Moscow base in Smith's latest entry in the internationally bestselling series about Russian crimes, broken hearts, and the mysteries of the soul.
About the Author
Martin Cruz-Smith's novels include 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.