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Red Square

(Arkady Renko #3)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  5,241 ratings  ·  187 reviews
In the summer of 1991, Arkady Renko has returned from exile and is back on the homicide squad in a newly democratic Moscow. When Arkady’s informant, Rudy Rosen, and his underworld bank-on-wheels are consumed in a ball of fire, Arkady finds himself in an investigation that points to the heart of Russia’s decaying infrastructure.
Paperback, 473 pages
Published (first published 1992)
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3.96  · 
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 ·  5,241 ratings  ·  187 reviews

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Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A magnificent read. Martin Cruz Smith is that rarest of authors, a writer who turns the thriller genre into art. I would rank him with my beloved Alan Furst in terms of quality; the delicacy of his language, his witty dialogue, the you-are-there rendition of a particular time in history, the lyrical and sometimes heartbreaking realism of his characters.
So, I was in love with Arkady, but after this, I'm over it. His endearing aloofness and cynical yet amused detachment so typical of the Eastern-European psyche is almost demolished in Red Square, as Cruz Smith unnecessarily leads us into Arkady's tormented-lover's soul. Making things worse, the pov becomes so confused: most of the time, we're led to observe Arkady instead of being party to his feelings or thoughts... with one exception: when he's thinking about Irina, it's all gushy insecure rot ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, fiction, russia
RED SQUARE is the third Arkady Renko novel by Martin Cruz Smith. Book One was GORKY PARK published in 1981. It is now a decade later, the eve of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. That dissolution is foreshadowed in numerous scenes. The “New Moscow” is littered with heavy machinery and material mired in mud and construction that never seems to reach completion. The lines in the shops are long; the store shelves mostly empty. The new center of commerce is the black market. It's midnight. “Here ...more
Much as I really like Martin Cruz Smith and this series, I confess I was a little disappointed in this. (It didn't stop me from racing through it--but on reflection, it seems lesser) Even one of my all-time favorite narrators, the late Frank Muller, disappoints. Arkady is in Munich staying at a pension--but Muller pronounces it like the money you save for retirement. Over and over. It's a decent spy story and it does highlight Renko's reckless disregard for all the rules, but he's obsessed by th ...more
Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
I am a little torn on what to rate this. I think this book's predecessor, Polar Star, was just so good this one might suffer a bit in comparison. Nevertheless, I still remain a fan of Smith's gift with prose, his cast of compelling characters and his ability to make the reader really live in the Russian and German mindsets in the era between the Wall's collapse and the dissolution of the USSR.

The book has multiple story lines that converge. One is Renko's investigation of the murder of an infor
Mar 09, 2014 added it
Shelves: large-print-read
Seldom have I been so disappointed in a book as I was in Red Square. I read Gorky Park many years ago and loved it. Didn't know there was a Arkady Renko series until about a year ago. When I did, I got ahold of Polar Star and read it. OK, not as good as Gorky Park , but, still, a good book to read. Now, I've read the 3rd in the series in Red Square and I believe that I am done with this series. Thought the plot, and action, dragged on and on. Difficult to read because of the seemingly disjointed ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In every respect, a magnificent detective novel. Usually by Book #3 in a mystery series, you expect the author to start resting on his or her laurels a bit, but, with RED SQUARE, Martin Cruz Smith delivers us his bleakest, most cerebral Arkady Renko adventure yet. The series' main characters continue to develop in natural-but-exciting ways, and Renko himself is rapidly becoming my favorite literary character outside of James Bond. Smith's prose never falters, embodying an incredible literary sop ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I grew up with my parents getting a succession of Cold War spy thrillers from the library every two weeks, where the evil agents of the Soviet Union enacted arcane and incomprehensible plots against The West that often resulted in a climactic and suspenseful climax involving the threat of global thermonuclear war. It tends to shape your perceptions a little, and I got into the habit of reading the last page of these books to see if the world survived, perhaps hoping to read auguries of our likel ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read the first two in the Arkady Renko series, about a homicide detective (“Investigator”) in Moscow; “Gorky Park” (which was made into a quite good movie starring Lee Marvin) and “Polar Star” (in which Arkady solves a murder aboard a fishing tender ship where he is working after being arrested, sent to a gulag, and tortured for committing a political crime). In the third (of eight so far, I think), he has worked his way back to Investigator status, mostly because he is a brilliant detectiv ...more
I read this years ago. Honestly, though, I can't remember it well enough to rate it.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is my first encounter with Martin Cruz Smith and Arkady Renko - the principal character in many of his books. Reading this book is like downloading a large image on a painfully slow internet connection: all you see at first is a blank rectangle, then a few blotches of color become visible followed by some hazy lines; then come broadly pixelated images which slowly acquire greater definition until finally the picture becomes clear.

There is a clear plot in the book - a murder is committed and
Jul 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking for something perfect for reading on the train, and having previously read another Arkady Renko book, I figured this was about as good an option as I was likely to find-- diverting, crammed with detail and some soupcon of geopolitical obscurantism.

It might be a product of the second time never being as good as the first, but I found this one not quite as compelling as _Wolves Eat Dogs_, the other book I read. I mean, it's good, and there are passages of compelling beauty-- Smith is
Oct 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: detectives, kindle
It's rare to find such good writing married to such tight plotting, and I enjoyed this instalment just as much as Gorky Park. As before, the scene-setting is vivid - this time we see Munich and the newly-reunited Berlin as well as Moscow - and there's a strong sense of theme and symbolism.
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, crime
i am not quite sure what to think - nor what it actually was about. one might argue that that was exactly what the author intended what with the upheaval in the soviet union at the time and the people caught up in it but personally i don't really like it when i don't know by the end what the crime was all about (and why??? besides greed... and who did business with whom? not sure). maybe it would have helped to know more about the history of the late 80s and early 90s. also: if you put in some g ...more
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Martin Cruz Smith creates a fully formed protagonist in Arkady Renko. His character is at odds with almost everything around him in the freshly created ruins behind the Iron Curtain. His disgust at the government he works for, despite his love of Mother Russia make him a pariah wherever he finds himself. Dogged determination is his only virtue, and it seems to be all he needs.
Through his eyes, Smith allows us a rare glimpse into the sad world of emerging capitalism- one without capital for the
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At one point in Red Square, by Martin Cruz Smith, one of Arkady Renko’s temporary partners turns to the battered detective and asks, “Renko, do you ever feel like the plague?” (248*). At this point, Renko has been attacked a couple of times. His partner in Moscow has been killed. A couple of witnesses had been killed after talking to him. And, oh yeah, the Soviet Union is going to collapse any day. Renko spends most of this book in Munich and Berlin, so there’s a real chance that his country won ...more
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am being more and more impressed by the books about commisar Arkady Renko. I have no way to know where Cruz Smith gets his inspiration and wheter or not his depiction of Russian psyke is trust-worthy, but it sure makes for a very good read. Characters are fascinating, depictions of enviroments do ring true and I must say that relation between Arkady and Irina was (at least initially) both captivating and heartbreaking. Last but not least, it's a pretty decent crime story too.
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
# 3 in the Arcady Renko series. Slow start (for me). Intense tale set in Russia, Berlin and Munich, during the late Glasnost period, about the murder of a smuggler and private banker operating out of his car. Became steadily pulled into the story and really appreciated the vivid depiction of life in Germany a year after teardown of the the Berlin Wall and the last days of Gorbachev's Russia. Look forward to reading 'Havana Square,' the next in the series.
Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
While I enjoyed this book, I did not think it was quite as good as Polar Star or Gorky Park. The relationship between Irina and Renko was touching and I enjoyed the growing friendship between Renko and Peter. The strength of this series is the slow steady development of the mystery, the skills of Renko, the insightful descriptions of Russia, and particularly the interesting characters. The ending of this novel was particularly strong. 4.3 stars
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russian-philes and murder mystery freaks
What a transporting story. The author is amazing. His details and how they eventually all connect back within the plot was terrific. I am always cheering on Arkardy Renko, the one honest man in a sea of corruption. Smart and sad, he is. I also loved the comparison that the author portrayed between the cultural mores of Moscow and of Munich.
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
The third Arkady Renko book. He follows the clues to the klllers of his partner to Germany, during the time of the tanks surrounding the (Russian) White House. Even though the book is close to 20 years old, it's still good. It has a mystery story wrapped up in the atmosphere of 1991 Moscow. Great!
Woody Rufus
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite Audio book as read by Frank Mueller
Listened to twice
Asghar Abbas
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was ok

It was OKish but meh.

I like the novelty of these storylines but Smith definitely overstayed his welcome. Too grim and so serious. Russians have joy too.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Renko is rapidly becoming my favorite sarcastic, melancholic foreign detective.
Andy Crocombe
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like the way the author writes these Renko books. He has a good heart, lots of humanity, is always the underdog yet usually managed to win through (a bit like Harry Hole but with way less character flaws. Great to read a book set in the context of the coup against Gorbachev Cruz-Smith really gives a strong description of life in Russia after the collapse of USSR (it feels authentic). A great emotional relationship between Arkady and a previous lover who he helped defect (Irina). Not sure if sh ...more
Diana Pope
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Even though I was excited to read this, I was really disappointed in the plot of this book. The historical context behind the book is intriguing, but the author seems to solely focus on the historical events at points and ignore laying out the proper details that will capture the reader's interest. The beginning of the book is incredibly confusing because a whirlwind of murders occur in the first chapter. After that, Detective Renko can't quite decide whether he wants to chase after Irina or sol ...more
Robert Wolfe
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mr. Cruz Smith's prose is crisp and easily devoured. It's not as poetically polished as more recent contributors to the international espionage mystery, like Alan Furst. His characters don't jump off the page with the liveliness of a le Carre novel, but they come close.

Renko is a classic noir stereotype with a wounded Russian exterior. Gorky Park sparked my Russophilism way back when I was teenager, so I owe Mr. Cruz Smith and Arkady Renko a lot. This was a fitting end to the latter's story of
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the third novel in the Arkady Renko series, and sees Arkady continuing to investigate a murder after he is pulled off the case. The novel is very similar in structure to both Gorky Park and Polar Star, however the plot twists, and Arkady's tenacity whilst travelling, made it just as enjoyable as the previous books. The incorporation of a major historical event at the end of the book added to the enjoyment.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read and the author provides so much detail it is eas
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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

Other books in the series

Arkady Renko (9 books)
  • Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1)
  • Polar Star (Arkady Renko, #2)
  • Havana Bay (Arkady Renko, #4)
  • Wolves Eat Dogs
  • Stalin's Ghost (Arkady Renko, #6)
  • Three Stations (Arkady Renko, #7)
  • Tatiana (Arkady Renko, #8)
  • The Siberian Dilemma (Arkady Renko #9)
“How did the distillers decide which part of their production was vodka and which was rubbing alcohol? Or did it matter? While” 1 likes
“Find the crime, Arkady thought: trying to kill Stalin or missing him.” 0 likes
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