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Gorky Park (Arkady Renko #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  48,706 Ratings  ·  841 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
ebook, 377 pages
Published November 23rd 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published 1981)
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Robert A Chalmers The age of the book doesn't matter really I don't think. If the story is a good story - that's what counts. The characters and situations are familiar…moreThe age of the book doesn't matter really I don't think. If the story is a good story - that's what counts. The characters and situations are familiar now to most, so it makes it a comfortable read. And it is a good story.(less)
Robert A Chalmers Nope, not a new addition. I just have it on the book shelf. I thought it was a good time to read it again.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kemper
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’
...more
Eve
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
j
Aug 16, 2010 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
Jim
This novel was originally published in 1981. Almost 36 years ago. I believe that I attempted to read the book once before, perhaps shortly after it's publication, but did not finish. I wish I had read it then. Reading it today I find it is dated. The author demonstrated talent in describing scenes in the story whether it is in Moscow, a Russian dacha, or a dingy New York hotel room you could visualize it and feel as though you were right there. What I found difficult to believe was the level of ...more
Armada Volya
Jul 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
Well. Sigh. I'm deciding what to write. Ok. Truth.

I'm disappointed with 'Gorky Park', book one in the Soviet Union's Inspector Arkady Renko series. Oh, it's a fine inventive entertainment for a mystery, with a lot of twists and near death escapes, tons of corrupt cops and officials, and so many betrayals and hidden motives I am amazed the body count wasn't higher considering the undrained swamps that Renko wades through in not just Russia, but also in New York City.

In Russia, many different off
...more
Tom Mathews
I've been wanting to read this book for a very long time so it was disappointing t0 find that it wasn't quite as enjoyable as I'd hoped. Some characters were well fleshed out and Smith was great at describing the locale, making it easy for readers to visualize their surroundings, be they a Russian General's dacha or a dingy New York hotel room. What did bother me was its pacing and it's labyrinthine conspiracy where it seems that almost everybody was colluding with everyone else. For a book with ...more
April
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Gary Inbinder
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First read more than thirty years ago, this novel held up well on a recent second reading. It's an excellent police procedural/thriller with a compelling narrative, strong characterizations and fine descriptive detail of crime, forensics and detection in Moscow toward the end of the Soviet Era.
Ioana
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
Jennifer
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads, mystery
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
David Jackmanson
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
...more
Perry
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Eric
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
James  Love
An excellent murder mystery that reveals the hypocrisy of Communism. A homicide investigator is forced to work a three body homicide in Gorky Park. The KGB enters the crime scene and immediately makes the CID that investigated the Jeffrey MacDonald murders look more like the professionals of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation than the Keystone Kops. The KGB then decides after destroying the scene that the bodies are not part of any foreign plot to destroy Mother Russia.

The chief investigator deals w
...more
Daisy
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
...more
Matt
Oct 12, 2015 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.
...more
☼♄Jülie 

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.
Shatrujeet Nath
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
...more
Abhinav
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
...more
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
Chris
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, audio
So this is a spy novel.
Sorta.
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
...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
Jyotsna
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating- 4.5 stars
So finally done with this book and I have no clue where to start.

For beginners-
1. This is a political/cold war thriller
2. It is a deep book. Not mere hit-and-run crime. In fact, crime is not the main focus, the cold war is.
In short, don't let the crime plot mislead you.
3. The book is all about Akardy Renko.

This is a masterpiece- a way the book takes you through U.S.S.R, all about the party and it is all about Comrade Renko and his investigation of three bodies at Gorky P
...more
Fiona
This is a Boy Book. Which is to say it contains spies, guns, high speed chases, men in dark-coloured overcoats and precisely no insight into the psyche of its female characters, of which there were three, and all of whom attempt or threaten suicide at some point in the course of the book. This aside, I am mostly in favour of Boy Books, and I enjoyed the black and white me-against-the-world running round 1970s Moscow immensely.
Sue Smith
Jan 25, 2014 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.
Mohammed
Oct 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ksenia Anske
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crisp, punchy, hilarious and to-the-point. Fantastic language—sparse, clean. And of course, Soviet Russia, vodka, murder, snow, political intrigues, KGB, FBI, furs, gold, power, love. The amount of knowledge about Russia here stunned me. Brilliant. Favorite quote from the interview in the back of the book: "The thing about writing is, you may starve, but you don't get fired."
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8258
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
More about Martin Cruz Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Arkady Renko (8 books)
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  • Red Square (Arkady Renko, #3)
  • Havana Bay (Arkady Renko, #4)
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  • Three Stations (Arkady Renko, #7)
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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.” 7 likes
“Proust said that you could seduce any woman if you were willing to sit and listen to her complain until four in the morning.” 3 likes
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