Sho's Reviews > Three Stations

Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith
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's review
Nov 19, 11

bookshelves: crime, detective, series, thriller
Recommended to Sho by: husband
Read from November 13 to 17, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Many many many years ago one of my parents, avid readers both, picked up Gorky Park read it, loved it and passed it to the other parent whence it arrived on my teetering pile of "to read" books. As a student of the Russian language and literature (doing my A-level at the time) I had an interest in anything even vaguely connected with the Soviet Union - and that story was very very connected to the USSR.

Much later, my husband also read it, then we saw the film. Then came Polar star and then... nothing for years and years. Suddenly, last year, I discovered that Arkady Renko still lives and has appeared in some more novels, which I devoured. And then this one came out, finally, in paperback. The husband, stuck at a station without a book (quelle horreur!) stumbled upon Three Stations and finally it worked its way along to me.

What to say about the actual novel? Renko, once again without a girlfriend but still in the company of Zhenya the chess-hustler of a teenager he sort of adopted. As usual he's in trouble with his boss and generally stumbling through his life as best he can. Against a backdrop of modern Russia (complete with feral children, hustlers, schemers, billionaires and prostitutes) and an alcoholic colleague Arkady investigates a murder which has repurcussions and connections to other events, people and places.

It's a pacy novel a thrilling ride, Renko is his usual self, plagued with self-doubt at some tiimes, at others he is so sure of what he is doing and where his leads are taking him and all the time the reader is kept on tenterhooks trying to work out what's coming next.

As usual, with a Renko novel, the peripheral characters are simultaneously enigmatic and well drawn. There is enough about them to care what happens to them, but not enough background to know all about them. The feral children in particular are beautifully written, living in the moment you only know their names and what they are doing right now. Anything relating to their past is unknown and unknowable, their futures bleak at best. Other characters with even smaller, amost walk-on, roles are equally brilliantly drawn - from the ballet director at the casino to the billionaire we recognise the characters even while they are complete strangers to us.

Highly recommended - you could read it as a stand-alone but it would be so much better if you started with Gorky Park and worked through the others.

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