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Gorky Park (Arkady Renko #1)

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  44,035 Ratings  ·  692 Reviews
A triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three corpses found frozen in the snow, faces and fingers missing. Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko is brilliant, sensitive, honest, and cynical about everything except his profession. To identify the victims and uncover the truth, he must battle the KGB, FBI, and New York police as he performs the impossible--and tries ...more
Paperback, 433 pages
Published February 12th 1982 by Ballantine Books (first published 1981)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 01, 2014 Kemper rated it really liked it
Between watching the ‘80s era Soviet spies in FX’s The Americans, and tensions running high over Russian activity in the Ukraine, it almost seems like Cold War never ended. In fact, because of a European consulting firm being brought into my workplace, I’m seeing Russians all over my building. Hopefully things don’t hit the point where I have to take to the hills and go all Red Dawn. Wolverines!!

With all this red scare stuff going on, it seemed like a great to time revisit this old favorite. It’
Jun 03, 2016 Eve rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
“‘There are not many road signs in Russia, you know.’ He laughed. ‘If you don’t know where the road goes, you shouldn’t be on it.'” — Arkady Renko

When Gorky Park was first published in 1981, it was immediately banned in the then Soviet Union because of its apt depiction of everyday Soviet life. Though I’ve never been to Russia (my only immersion into the culture was the year I spent trying unsuccessfully to learn the language), its image is intricately linked with the glamorous Moscow of the fil
Jun 12, 2011 j rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, 2011
There's this concept in fantasy writing, world-building? Sci-fi too. It's pretty self-explanatory: because these books are not taking place in our universe, it's up to the author to give us all the details -- to paint the picture, provide shading in just the right places, ensure we can tell what we are supposed to be looking at. Economics, politics, interpersonal relations, language, gender roles, humor... This can be done well, emphasizing just here and embellishing just there, so the empty spa ...more
Mar 16, 2008 April rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russia
If only there were Russian men like Arkady Renko! What a hero. Martin Cruz Smith, despite making up an implausibly wonderful Russian man in Arkady Renko, just totally nails some things about Soviet Russia. I get nostalgic even thinking about it.
Got a plane ride coming up? If you haven't read this - GO NOW! BUY IT! I promise you won't regret it.
Nov 14, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008-reads
In 1981, when Smith published Gorky Park, the Berlin Wall had yet to fall, and Glasnost wasn't yet a twinkle in Gorbachev's eye. Perhaps in that climate, nearly 40 years into the Cold War, a thriller set largely behind the Curtain, exploring how the Red half lived, was enough to titilate an audience. Because the effusive praise heaped on this one surely isn't due to the writing. Gorky Park is a messy narrative at best, a willy-nilly hodgepodge of Soviet cliches at worst. Most disappointing is t ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it
Stealthy Police Procedural set in Moscow prior to Perestroika and Dissolution of U.S.S.R.

Back in the U.S.S.R.:
Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the West behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
That Georgia's always on my mind
Lennon-McCartney, 1968

Arkady Renko is chief homicide investigator for Moscow's Soviet militsiya (the city's civilian police force). When investigating the murder of three American college students found frozen in the snow of Gorky Park, faces and
Dec 12, 2014 Eric rated it liked it
While I didn't always love the experience of reading this novel, I am glad to have read it, if only for the fictional glimpse of Soviet Russia during the Cold War. I didn't enjoy how drawn out the book became after such an intriguing start. But then, I was only expecting a police procedural set in Russia. This novel was much, much more -- a cat and mouse game, a story of fugitives and bandits, a view of Soviet "justice," a story of torture, a social commentary on America by a Russian narrator, a ...more
#2016-aty-reading-challenge--week-16: a book from the top 100 mystery novels.

How strange that it took me so many years to read this book! I had to choose a book from the list of top 100 mysteries for a reading challenge and this was one of the few that I hadn't already read. Perhaps initially this gap in my reading was because the book came out when I was busy having and raising babies!

The mystery, Gorky Park, was published in 1981 and is set in Russia during the height of the Communist regime
Armada Volya
Jul 13, 2013 Armada Volya rated it did not like it
A little bit of actual research would've been nice. I am very forgiving when it comes to getting things wrong about USSR; after all, not everyone lived there and not everyone knows the culture. I was able to forgive the misuse of names and the word comrade. I was able to forgive the fact the the author seems to think that Moscow is located at the north pole. Factories suing each other though.... come on. Who doesn't know that in communism all factories belong to the state? That would mean that t ...more
David Jackmanson
Nov 08, 2010 David Jackmanson rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite noir novels ever, a story I keep coming back to. The first time I read this book I thought it was just typical USAian triumphalism over the Soviet Union, but I was wrong. The USA is shown as a place where it's a little easier to breathe, but it's dominated by the rich and powerful just as the Soviet Union is.

Arkady Renko is a prosecutor's investigator for homicide in Moscow in the late 1970s. He is called to a murder scene in Gorky Park, Moscow's favourite place to forget the
I can't believe I resisted this for so long.

There used to be a German copy on our shelves, a book my husband actually read (smart guy but doesn't read much fiction), but I unloaded it a long time ago without a thought since its popularity turned me off. It turns out to be a worthwhile, luxurious read for a Russophile. I don't care that it's a thriller (though all thrillers should be this good--and of course they're not), the atmosphere is so vivid and visual. Moscow is my favorite character and
Oct 17, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-ebooks

A murder mystery story mostly set in Moscow. Three bodies have been found frozen and faceless under the snow in Gorky Park. Arkady Renko of the Moscow militia sets out to investigate. It turns out this case is far more complicated than usual and Renko soon finds himself entangled in a complex web of conspiracy, corruption, espionage, murder and the smuggling of s— [spoiler removed].

I know the 1983 film base on the novel quite well. Therefore I knew who dunnit (and why) prior to reading the book.
Liviu Szoke
Din recenzia de pe Blogul FanSF: ''Ce mi-a plăcut la Arkadi Reanko a fost modul cum a fost construit de autor: acesta n-a încercat să-l facă un supraom cu o viață fericită, plin de bogăție și cu femei care-i cad la picioare din cauză că este cel mai strălucitor anchetator al Rusiei, ba din contră – nevasta îl înșală și bagă divorț de el din cauză că el refuză întruna să devină corupt ca să-i poată asigura ei condiții mai bune de trai, se îndrăgostește de un dușman al poporului care nici nu știu ...more
Nov 19, 2014 Ioana rated it it was amazing
This is probably my most favorite "detective" novel read to date, because it is so much more than a mystery--it is really a masterfully written, poignant, cynical, realistic, and all-too-palpable portrayal of life behind the Iron Curtain. Having been born and raised in this part of the world before 1989, I almost cannot believe how well an American author was able to capture the dreary, corrupt, existentially-dispiriting and hopeless atmosphere of the era, without moralizing and without futile a ...more
3 to 3.5 stars. Would've been 4 stars probably if I had not come across Child 44 first, which meant this was always gonna be compared to Tom Rob Smith's novel.

I think if John le Carre wrote crime novels instead of espionage ones, it would end up being something similar to 'Gorky Park'. What is admirable about this book is its scope - how it starts with a triple murder in the heart of Moscow, transcends through places like Leningrad & Shatura and finally culminates in a riveting finale in New
Jul 22, 2014 ☼♄Jülie rated it it was amazing

I've just looked this up after being reminded of it, this was one of my favourites at the time, when I was heavily into espionage novels.
I really enjoyed this book so much that I couldn't wait to see the movie when it came out, which I also liked a lot...starring William Hurt and Lee Martin.
That was back in 1983, when espionage was very different from today's versions.
Sep 21, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this is a spy novel.
So this is a love story.
Kinda, as long as you ignore the fact that the romance sub-plot feels a bit contrived and is totally more of a Hollywood type love plot. You know the kind they throw in because they think women like them, but the female lead really isn’t necessary at all.
It’s about the Cold War and Capitalism.
It’s a fun listen that’s for sure. Don’t let how long it took me to finish it influence you. Audio books always take me awhile (mostly because I le
Razvan Zamfirescu
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu


Arkadi este genul de personaj care poate foarte ușor să fie luat drept model de către cititori. Inteligent, hotărât, puternic, un bărbat adevărat. Bineînțeles că șarmul său crește exponențial având în vedere personajele cu care se întâlnește de-a lungul poveștii și nu are cum să nu impresioneze și să nu fie o figură de succes. Însă Arkadi nu este excepțional doar datorită antitezei sau conjunctur
Shatrujeet Nath
Oct 12, 2015 Shatrujeet Nath rated it liked it
This one had been on my wishlist for the longest of time because the idea of a police procedural set in Soviet Russia drew me instantly. Yet, it's only now that I finally got around to reading it.

I must confess that it has left me with mixed feelings. There are things about this book that I really liked, and things that just didn't make sense. Of the things I liked, one was the starting premise of the investigation that Arkady Renko initiates after finding the dead bodies in Gorky Park -- as chi
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Written in 1981, this book has had something of a cult status as one of the first popular entries in the international mystery/thriller genre. It is the first in the Arkady Renko series, the second being published much later, in 1988.[return][return]Arkady Renko is a chief investigator in the Moscow militia, the police section of the MVD. As opposed to the KGB, which investigates cases related to security, the militia are usually concerned with domestic violence, drunkenness and the occasional m ...more
Dec 20, 2012 Gary rated it liked it
After an intriguing start the novel drifted and became very drawn out. At one point I found that I didn't really care what was happening and very nearly gave up. It did get better and I appreciate that my point of view is different to many others but the end of the book was very welcome.
May 05, 2016 Carol rated it it was ok
From other reviews that I have read I know that I'm clearly in the minority but I just didn't find anything about this book or the characters to like. Ardaky Renko has possibilities but it may take some very creative writing on Martin Cruz Smith's part to bring out his "inner man" and turn him into a detective that readers will cheer for. As for this book...the murders in the park were a good beginning to the book but it soon became so wrapped up in Russian politics, mixed with corrupt Americans ...more
Jan 05, 2014 Petr rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Váhám, co k tomu říct. Prý je to docela slavná detektivka. Mně přišla překombinovaná, ne moc dobře napsaná a přehnaně ambiciózní. Americký autor se snažil postihnout reálie neznámého světa, jímž je Sovětský svaz (datum chybí, ale podle reálií to vypadá na konec sedmdesátých let). Vnějškově to má popsané docela dobře, zcela mu ale unikají skutečné motivace a postoje. (Dobře, asi ne „zcela“. Korupce je popsaná docela dobře, chlast taky.) Nikdo, ani zavilí komunisti (snad až na pár patologických vý ...more
May 06, 2016 Andrew rated it it was ok
1.5 Stars
so wanted to enjoy this book and had been looking forward to reading it! However to put it bluntly I just didn't enjoy this book and it was a great struggle to finish the book. It was lacking pace and enough interaction between the key characters, and got totally mired down in heavy description and often about things that were superfluous to the plot. I also didn't really find one character I bought into or liked, in fact I found the book quite depressive. That however is just my opini
Oct 16, 2009 Marieke rated it it was amazing
I picked up Gorky Park at the library because I had been wanting to read Polar Star, its sequel, again.

I listened to Polar Star on tape years ago on a road trip to Burning Man and it was grippingly real, gritty, rusty and bloody. Murder on a Russian fishing vessel out in the Arctic. I felt as if I had been on that ship for months after the book ended. I could see the characters in front of me, as real as my friends.

I knew I must start with Gorky Park. There were a few things in Polar Star that I
Jan 14, 2016 Leftbanker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-gangsters
Anyone not giving this the highest rating should perhaps read it again.

I read Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith back when it first came out and loved it. As part of my new fitness program I’m doing a lot of brisk walking as my doctor says this will balance out the crazy amount of cycling that I do. I hate walking and running but if I have to do it I want to kill two birds. On my walks I have been listening to recorded books. Unfortunately, I haven’t found much in French and Spanish to improve my l
Steven Kent
Feb 28, 2009 Steven Kent rated it it was amazing
This book launched my decades-long obsession with the works of Martin Cruz Smith.

Three bodies are found in Gorky Park, a Moscow landmark. These murder victims will be hard to identify since their faces have been skinned away. Fingerprints are a no-go since their fingers have been cut off. No luck on dental records, either, their teeth are kicked in.

Pinpointing the date and time of death will be problematic as well. They were buried in the snow.

Arkady, a laconic Moscow cop, is assigned a case. H
Sue Smith
Feb 08, 2014 Sue Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great thriller! Even now, 30+ years after it was written, it still packs a delightful punch. Such wonderful writing too, you can just 'get' the difference between how one country sees an ethical or moral or economic outlook versus another and how those differences still play into how things are done in our modern world. This book really gives you a great understanding of that post-war, cold war posturing and how, truly, it's the best chess player that wins the game.

Great story.
Asghar Abbas
Mar 01, 2016 Asghar Abbas rated it really liked it


and Tawni O'Dell reads him, so.
Dec 01, 2009 Mohammed rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: To Crime fans, its an important book for its type
Shelves: crime-mystery
The strength of this book and what makes its a very good book more like 3.5 rating than 3 stars is for me that the author captured the people,society of Soviet in those days so well. Makes it very realistic like Cold War era documentary.

Arkady Renko is a very compelling,intelligent hero of the book too. Not too heroic,too smart he felt more like a real investigator of those days.
An original book and an important for a crime book like this.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Arkady Renko (8 books)
  • Polar Star (Arkady Renko, #2)
  • Red Square (Arkady Renko, #3)
  • Havana Bay (Arkady Renko, #4)
  • Wolves Eat Dogs (Arkady Renko, #5)
  • Stalin's Ghost (Arkady Renko, #6)
  • Three Stations (Arkady Renko, #7)
  • Tatiana (Arkady Renko, #8)

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“Stalin gothic was not so much an architectural style as a form of worship. Elements of Greek, French, Chinese and Italian masterpieces had been thrown into the barbarian wagon and carted to Moscow and the Master Builder Himself, who had piled them one on the other into the cement towers and blazing torches of His rule, monstrous skyscrapers of ominous windows, mysterious crenellations and dizzying towers that led to the clouds, and yet still more rising spires surmounted by ruby stars that at night glowed like His eyes. After His death, His creations were more embarrassment than menace, too big for burial with Him, so they stood, one to each part of town, great brooding, semi-Oriental temples, not exorcised but used.” 4 likes
“There are not many road signs in Russia, you know. He laughed. If you don't know where the road goes, you shouldn't be on it.” 0 likes
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