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Stalin's Ghost (Arkady Renko #6)

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  2,591 ratings  ·  268 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 a ...more
Audio CD, Abridged, 0 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published 2006)
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Lewis Weinstein
Abe March said "good, but not great." I agree. It took a long time for the separate threads to make any sense at all, and when they did, there was never a real engaging drama. The characters were not developed enough to make me care about them.

The plot, however, was good enough to pull me along and the description of the chess match was superb.
When I was looking at the books Smith has written, I was surprised to see that I've actually read all of the Renko novels. I've liked all of the books, but have not been wild about them (well, except for Gorky Park, which I would rate 5 stars). For some reason, I just don't like the way Smith closes his novels, it always seems rushed, and Stalin's Ghost is no different. And yet, I think Renko is one of the remarkable characters I've run across in all of fiction. What a dilemma! 5 stars for the c ...more
Dec 08, 2009 Bruce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Renko, Gorky Park, detective fiction, Russia, Soviet history
"Renko can't do anything," Urman reassured Pacheco. "He's hiding from the prosecutor here and disowned by the prosecutor in Moscow. Besides, he's a dead man." (p. 267)

This pretty much sums up the entirety of what *I* would call the sixth and best book of the Renko series (Gorky Park) to date, and in my estimation, that's saying something. The theme of Stalin's Ghost is the unwelcome surprise our exhumation of the past can entail, a theme borne out casually throughout a book in which the game of
Having read the Arkady Renko series, I have to say, that Stalin's Ghost was not my favorite. It wasn't bad, but for me not the best. Arkady is again back in Moscow, delving into a case that isn't his own, against the advice of his partner, love interest and boss. What happens is a trail that continually leads back to two detectives Isakov and Urman. Is Arkady interested because he wants justice or because his girlfriend is cheating on him with Isakov? This story cleverly interweaves WWII Russian ...more
The Arkady Renko series from Martin Cruz Smith has to be the most chronologically dispersed series I have ever seen. It began with Gorky Park in 1981 and has continued up to 2010 with Three Stations, and in those 30 intervening years there have been only seven novels total. But true to the old adage, “good things come to those that wait,” fans of Martin Cruz Smith and Arkady Renko have been well rewarded over the years. These things are good. To be more precise, the one installment I’ve read is ...more
Martin Cruz Smith's series protagonist, Russian detective Arkady Renko, has a new assignment: investigate strange late-night sightings of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin on the Moscow subway. To complicate matters, a wealthy woman tries to hire Arkady to kill her husband.

With Arkady, there's usually a love interest gone awry. This time his lover, Eva, has left him for another detective, Nikolai, a war veteran. In increasingly complex ways, these plot threads intersect. Arkady is banished f
Having never read any of the Renko books before and familiar with the character only from the movie Gorky Park, I have to say I’m impressed. Stalin’s Ghost is a terrific read (some plot contrivances aside), full of wry, dark humor as it offers a grim portrait of Russia.
Kelanth, numquam risit ubi dracones vivunt
Dopo una parentesi nella zona proibita di Chernobyl, Renko torna ad investigare a Mosca. Per chi non lo sapesse Arkady Renko è un ispettore di Mosca, figura triste e solitaria narrata nei primi (e più famosi) libri di Smith in "Gorky Park" o "Stella Polare", quando ancora c'era la cortina di ferro.

Solita costruzione magistrale della trama, ben costruiti i personaggi che erano presenti anche nel precedente libro (Lupo Mangia Cane) e sempre ottimo il personaggio principale che con la sua malinconi
Moscow Inspector Arkady Renko, who made his first appearance more than twenty years ago in Gorky Park, has lived through all the political since the fall of communism. Sadly, Renko's current Russia is every bit as bleak as his old one. Understandably, Renko is not a happy man. In Stalin's Ghost, the sixth Renko novel, riders on Moscow's Metro are convinced that the ghost of Stalin, still a hero and savior in the eyes of many, has been making appearances in the station he once visited while alive ...more
Years ago I read and liked Gorky Park (I think I traveled to Russia at about that time) but I haven't returned to this author since then. Stalin's Ghost features the same lead character--very reticent but also engaging--and is set in more-or-less contemporary Russia, so it was interesting to see the same character in a very different setting. As the title suggests, the story focuses on a conflict between old and new values. A quick read and I liked it, but not recommended for reading 10 pages a ...more
Marc Nethercot
I've slowly made my way through the Arkady Renko books, usually I'll read one and then go read a couple of different books because as much as I enjoy a dark gritty story I need a break now and then!

The appeal for me is Arkady's character. Pull a random book off a shelf and you will probably find a captivating anti-hero or tortured soul putting the world to rights. Arkady is different though; he walks through the world not as an invincible superhero but as a tragic personality dragged along behin
One of the major characters in Martin Cruz Smith's books is Mother Russia. Winter is hanging on tenaciously, snow purifies, and Stalin is sighted at an underground station. Inspector Arkady Renko investigates. Renko is Smith's anchoring character in several novels. He is a police officer who doesn't carry a gun and a poet's soul. The inciting incident is an investigation of a woman who called the police to get her husband killed...and Renko's partner picked up the phone by accident...Renko and V ...more
Here are just a few moments at the beginning of the novel that made me laugh or smile in admiration at the skill of the author.

A woman is trying to contract the killing of her husband and offers a warning to the would-be assassins:
“He’s very strong,” she said.
“No, he’ll just be heavy,” Victor assured her.

A mass grave has been discovered beneath the courthouse in Moscow:
“Gleb asked, “What if the grave runs under the entire court?”
“That’s always the problem, isn’t it? Once you start digging, when
This was surprisingly good, and not at all what I thought it was going to be. The narrative flows and really sucks in the reader. Phrasing is wonderfully elegant, and although the plot is very dark, the dialog is sprinkled with sharp humor.

I loved the characters, and despite having never read any books in this series, I found that I didn't need much introduction to past plotlines involving the characters.

About halfway through the novel, things got so intense that I had a hard time putting the b
Steve Van Slyke
Quite a while back I read Gorky Park and later Polar Star. I wasn't aware until after I read Stalin's Ghost that there are now three other Renko books as well. I hope that did not affect my view of the latter, but I mention it here so others will know.

I loved the first two, but found this one a bit slow in hooking me. I wasn't sure for awhile where the plot was going. I don't want to give any spoilers so I must just leave it that I was mislead in the beginning, and then it took awhile to figure
Steve Greenleaf
In reading a recent article about Russia and the Ukraine, the author noted that about one-half of those who support Putin do so because his strong leadership mimics that of Stalin. The other half support him because he doesn’t act like Stalin. Such is the enigma of Russia. It is this type of enigma in this culture that gives us Dostoevsky and Chekov’s characters, the nightmare of Soviet politics, and the Martin Cruz Smith novels about Russian detective Arkady Renko.

In this novel, late-night ri
Dan Bartholomew
It had promise, but in the end there were too many unbelievable moments. Such moments might have been tolerable if there had been an unexpected plot twist or a totally absorbing storyline from the beginning; it all just fell short. I read December 6, which was great, and decided to give this a try as my first Arkady Renko...probably not the best one to start with in that series. I am willing to give it another chance though...MCS is a master at setting mood and that was the case with this novel, ...more
Gloria Mccracken
The recently completed Sochi Olympics notwithstanding, if you still think of Russia as a large, corrupt, grim country where it is always winter, Martin Cruz Smith is your man. He came to prominence decades ago when Russia was still the USSR with Gorky Park, still a masterpiece of exotic detective fiction. Stalin's Ghost runs true to form, Arkady, his protagonist with, it sometimes appears, too much integrity, still has very little going for him except his intelligence--if you consider that going ...more
M.H. Vesseur
"How did you and the investigator meet?"
"At Chernobyl."
This piece of dialogue from "Stalin's Ghost" is a fine example of how Martin Cruz Smith tells his Arkady Renko stories: he never skips an opportunity to add some acid to the backdrop and then pour some sarcasm over it. Perhaps by now, way into the 21st century, we have grown accustomed to sarcasm in the media, it having become a way of life, but Smith still has an exceptional talent for creating bitter concoctions - however, it al
Another splendid Arkady Renko novel. Smith just does not give this poor police detective a break. His past journeys to a fish trawler slime line and Chernobyl seemed bad, but he gets it even worse this time. Nonetheless, I can't say I've found any of the mysteries particularly depressing. Maybe that's because Renko has such low expectations. [return][return]This is set in modern Russia, with its struggling politics and economy. He's dealing with corruption (as usual), an elusive lover, and his s ...more
Grace Tjan
Arkady Renko possesses all the traits of classic noir detectives; he is a loner who smokes too much and sleeps too little, he has a penchant for tough dames who might or might not be in league with the bad guys, and he gets beaten a lot for too little money. But being Russian he is also subject to other, more exotic predicaments that his colleagues in West could hardly imagine. For starters, his father is one of Stalin’s favorite generals whose wartime hobby is collecting ears taken from slain e ...more
After a whole summer spent dawdling and yawning and listlessly picking up one book, putting it down and beginning another (just like a character from Chekov! Masha?) I've just breezed through the last three of Martin Cruz Smith's extraordinary Renko books in about two weeks.
It wouldn't be me if I didn't go overboard but...I think these are the most amazing books, and Renko is perhaps the most intriguing detective (pardon: "Investigator".) since Sherlock Holmes, or whomever you consider to be an
Feb 24, 2009 Marfita rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marfita by: Someone at Bookmoochstackers
Shelves: mysteries
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Quinn
I've been a fan of Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko series since the first novel -- Gorky Park -- appeared as an paperback original in 1982. His Moscow investigator is cynical but dogged, and over the years we've seen through his eyes as the menacing USSR of the cold war has been transformed into the menacing Russia of the 21st century. He's written about oligarchs and Chernobyl, Havana and Russian trawlers, and all of it with a convincing patina of authenticity. I haven't a clue if Smith really ...more
Smith, Martin Cruz. STALIN’S GHOST. (2007). ***. Smith continues his adventures with his hero, Inspector Arkady Renko. This time, he and his partner are ordered to investigate the appearance of Stalin in one of Moscow’s subway station. The number of people who have seen him swells everyday, and Renko needs to get to the bottom of it. Turns out that this is just a ploy developed by a man running for office that will get him better known and associate him with Stalin – the hero of the people – wit ...more
Oct 18, 2008 Dorothy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of mysteries, especially those set in modern Russia or Europe
Recommended to Dorothy by: My husband
I had read "Gorky Park" and "Polar Star" by this author and those books feature the same main character as this one, Arkady Renko. I found Arkady an enormously appealing character and so I was interested to read this latest adventure of his. My husband, who read the book first and recommended it to me, warned me that Arkady was "rough-handled" in the book. Rough-handled he certainly was, but nothing will stop him from doing what he considers the honorable thing. Not even the dishonorable society ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Stalin’s Ghost, by Martin Cruz Smith, A. narrated by Ron McLardy, unfortunately abridged, B-plus, produced by Simon and Schuster audio, downloaded from

Since this book is coming up for discussion in a group I belong to, I chose to purchase the abridged copy, since that was all that had. I usually never purchase an abridged copy because you never know what piece of information you’re missing from the whole book. But in this case, we have the usual bleak Arkady Renko novel,
Perry Whitford
Policemen carrying out paid hits, a chess grandmaster and loyal communist receiving threatening phone calls and a report of sightings of Stalin's ghost in the Moscow underground: within 50 pages Cruz Smith, writing his sixth outing for the Moscow detective, establishes a classic triangle of mysteries for Renko to solve, which you just know will put him in great danger from all sides. You also know that the plot will some how manage to involve his current lover (Eva) and that all the events will ...more
Barbara Mitchell
I discovered this book in a bag of goodies from a friend and was glad of the chance to get reacquainted with Investigator Arkady Renko of the Moscow prosecutor's office. Poor Renko has really gotten the shaft, for lack of a better term, from the powers-that-be. He just doesn't let well enough alone, doesn't play politics, and he ignores "unwritten rules." Now, just to top everything off, his lover Eva has left him for a rising star, Detective Nikolai Isakov, who is a veteran of the Chechnyan civ ...more
Aug 24, 2008 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like mysteries
I think that this is one of the best of the Arkady Rneko novels. I thought that Polar Star was pretty good especially for its descriptions of the Arctic cannery boats and what that life was like. However this book captures the ambivielance of the post-Communist era in Russia and also touches on how people manage to remember things more positively than they really were.

The nostalgic attachment to Stalin reminds me of how many people in the forties suddenly remember high school as the best time o
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Arkady Returns 7 47 Jul 12, 2013 11:18PM  
  • Death of a Dissident (Porfiry Rostnikov, #1)
  • Shadow Pass (Inspector Pekkala #2)
  • The Darkening Field (Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev, #2)
  • Prayer of the Dragon (Inspector Shan, #5)
  • The Tears of Autumn (Paul Christopher #2)
  • The Winter Queen (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #1)
  • Stettin Station (John Russell, #3)
  • The Bellini Card (Yashim the Eunuch, #3)
  • Inside the Stalin Archives: Discovering the New Russia
  • The Confession
  • Kingdom of Shadows (Night Soldiers, #6)
AKA Simon Quinn, Nick Carter.

Martin Cruz Smith (born Martin William Smith), American novelist, received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. He worked as a journalist from 1965 to 1969 before turning his hand to fiction. His first mystery (Gypsy in Amber – 1971) features NY gypsy art dealer Roman Grey and was nominated for an Edgar Award. Nightwing was his breakt
More about Martin Cruz Smith...
Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1) Polar Star (Arkady Renko, #2) Red Square (Arkady Renko, #3) Wolves Eat Dogs (Arkady Renko, #5) Havana Bay (Arkady Renko, #4)

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