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Narrator Ron McLarty, who has also performed several other Renko books, takes on Martin Cruz Smith’s latest murder mystery. The Cold War may be decades old, but the air of intrigue lives on in Three Stations, where you’re never quite sure who’s on what side or who to trust. McLarty perfectly captures Smith’s sense of intrigue. He has a deep, determined voice, one that lends an air of seriousness and drama to Renko’s investigation. This tone works since the detective seems to be the only one taking everything seriously. Everyone else seems all too eager to dismiss the murder investigation and get back to enjoying life in post-Communist Moscow, a strange, other-worldly place populated by billionaires, schemers, prostitutes, thugs, and artists. But Renko refuses to jump to conclusions based on circumstantial evidence. And McLarty makes you believe he is wise to trust his investigative instincts.
Three Stations reveals a whole different side of Moscow that’s not included in tourism brochures. These once regal Stalinist train stations now seem to serve mainly as magnets for the city’s homeless and prostitutes. But rather than simply portraying these people as one-dimensional stereotypes, Smith breathes life into each character and presents them as unique people worthy of our attention. Renko takes the same approach, never assuming anything about anyone without facts to back up his theories, which makes him a great detective, and what ultimately makes Three Stations such a thrilling mystery. Ken Ross
So begins Martin Cruz Smith’s masterful Three Stations, a suspenseful, intricately constructed novel featuring Investigator Arkady Renko.
For the last three decades, beginning with the trailblazing Gorky Park, Renko (and Smith) have captivated readers with detective tales set in Russia. Renko is the ironic, brilliantly observant cop who finds solutions to heinous crimes when other lawmen refuse to even acknowledge that crimes have occurred. He uses his biting humor and intuitive leaps to fight not only wrongdoers but the corrupt state apparatus as well.
In Three Stations, Renko’s skills are put to their most severe test. Though he has been technically suspended from the prosecutor’s office for once again turning up unpleasant truths, he strives to solve a last case: the death of an elegant young woman whose body is found in a construction trailer on the perimeter of Moscow’s main rail hub. It looks like a simple drug overdose to everyone—except to Renko, whose examination of the crime scene turns up some inexplicable clues, most notably an invitation to Russia’s premier charity ball, the billionaires’ Nijinksy Fair.
Thus a sordid death becomes interwoven with the lifestyles of Moscow’s rich and famous, many of whom are clinging to their cash in the face of Putin’s crackdown on the very oligarchs who placed him in power. Renko uncovers a web of death, money, madness. and a kidnapping that threatens the woman he is coming to love and the lives of children he is desperate to protect. In Three Stations, Smith produces a complex and haunting vision of an emergent Russia’s secret underclass of street urchins, greedy thugs, and a bureaucracy still paralyzed by power and fear.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Kenneth on 09-08-10
Not up to the usual
I am a big fan of this author. His book Rose is incredible. This novel however seems to wander a bit and just doesn't carry that ability the author has to immerse us in the character that he has demonstrated so well in the past. Wish it had been better because I really am a fan and wait for any new novels by this author
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By David on 10-08-10
Don't start here..
If you want to get to know "Russia" and Arkady Renko, don't start here - go directly to Gorky Park and then especially through Wolves Eat Dogs (one of the most captivating novels I've listened to in awhile - the section on the how and why of Chernobyl? Compelling and frightening...) and then there's this. Just a blip in the 3/5 category, I hope, until the next one. It's still good only because it is Renko: the life and times of the top five best detective series out there (inc. Dave Robicheaux, etc). Too much sideline, not enough Arakady, though, and what makes Moscow really tick. I am hoping for more and remain optimistic of better from Martin Cruz Smith.....a great reader is provided in this series, but not a great manuscript.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful