Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1)” as Want to Read:
Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gorky Park

(Arkady Renko #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  54,381 ratings  ·  1,036 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gorky Park, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
David Knadler The book is a classic. It's a masterpiece of crime fiction, and by now works pretty well as history, too. The character of Arkady Renko is…moreThe book is a classic. It's a masterpiece of crime fiction, and by now works pretty well as history, too. The character of Arkady Renko is unforgettable. I've read this a number of times.(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.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
5,634 books — 13,348 voters
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
Best Spy Novels
1,028 books — 1,881 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  54,381 ratings  ·  1,036 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Kemper
Jul 02, 2008 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’
...more
Idarah
May 23, 2016 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
...more
unknown
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, audiobooks
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
Lyn
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A mesmerizing police procedural / murder mystery that also explores Soviet Russia and the dichotomy between east and west.

Set in the late 70s (the book was first published in 1981) this is the SOVIET UNION, Leonid freaking Brezhnev, and still some old pre-revolution folks running around Moscow.

Chief Inspector Arkady Renko is tasked with solving the murders of three people found in Gorky Park, their bodies frozen and killed weeks earlier, hidden by the snow. Their faces have been mutilated and fi
...more
Joseph Spuckler
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian, fiction
I read this back in 1983 and watched the movie when it came out too. It was an interesting Cold War novel that should Russians as people, and also reinforced the fear of the KGB. America(ns) did not come out perfectly clean either. The book added some grey in the black and white bipolar world. I enjoyed the revisit and the reminder of how much the world has changed and yet still remains the same.
Bill  Kerwin

Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park (1981) is the first book in series set in the Soviet Union and featuring Arkady Renko, a homicide investigator for the Moscow city police. It is an unusual work, for it gives the reader a unique glimpse into the difficulties facing a detective who is forced to operate in a police state.

For example—and this makes for a noteworthy variation on the typical policier—Renko at first tries not to solve his case, but instead to find some piece of evidence—of foreign invol
...more
Armada Volya
Jul 13, 2013 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
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
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
Bill Lynas
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Martin Cruz Smith's novels featuring Chief Investigator Arkady Renko have long been favourites of mine. As there hasn't been a new Renko book since Tatiana in 2013 I thought I'd return (for the fourth time) to the beginning.
Yet again I'm still thrilled by the excellent plotting, the well drawn characters & the author's ability to create a fascinating portrait of Russia.
Gorky Park is not only one of my favourite novels it is also one of my all time favourite films. When I was young I had the
...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
Gary Inbinder
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Alex Cantone
(Arkady) had a sense that something was happening, but he didn’t know what or where. In the halls his footsteps sounded ahead of him like another man’s. Most of the officers on night duty were out on the annual push to clear the central city of drunks before May Day; conversely, on May Day it would be patriotic to be drunk. Timing was everything...

Gorky Park introduces Arkady Renko, Chief Investigator with the Moscow militia, set during the former Soviet Union under Secretary Brezhnev. His fathe
...more
Martin Clark
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My second Goodreads recommendation, this one from KATHRYN IN FL, and I'm in her debt for putting this book back on my radar. Beautifully written and perfectly paced, Gorky Park deserves all the praise it's gotten over the years, and it holds up like a bona fide classic.
April
Mar 16, 2008 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.
Ioana
Feb 17, 2014 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
Jennifer
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, 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
Gary
Dec 20, 2012 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.
Brad
I always held back from reading Gorky Park -- despite its decades long service as a dust collector on my shelf -- for fear that an American author during the Cold War could only deliver the shabbiest form of propaganda if writing about a Moscow cop circa the early 80s. And all this even though I remember William Hurt's turn as Arkady Renko (Gorky Park's relentless protagonist) with fondness.

It turns out I needn't have worried. I can't say how accurate Martin Cruz Smith's portrayal of Moscow and
...more
Perry
Sep 20, 2011 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
...more
Eric
Nov 21, 2013 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
DeAnna Knippling
A 1980 Russian investigator is directed to solve a crime. He'd rather dump it on the KGB; it smells political. But no, they're leaving him holding the bag...

The mystery is too complicated. The plot takes too many irrelevant turns. The romance makes no sense. And yet...perfect. Not a typical mystery plot at all; much more like a shamamic journey than anything else. I loved the ending.
Steve
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great as always. I've read this book several times over the years and it is always better than the last time. I great beginning to the character and the series.
David Jackmanson
Nov 08, 2010 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
...more
Shatrujeet Nath
Oct 28, 2013 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
...more
Blair
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm planning on writing a crime story set in the late 1980s in Moscow (based on fact), so I decided to revisit Gorky Park to get a feel of the era. I have to admit to being a little disappointed on a few fronts. The book seemed better the first time I read it all those years ago.
Having lived in Moscow for over a year towards the end of the Soviet Union's existence and visited on many occasions, I was impressed by the degree of realism Cruz Smith conveyed. For the most part, his depiction of the
...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
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
Cphe
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A well written police procedural, thriller that has stood the test of time. Arkady Renko is a charismatic character, patriotic, intelligent, intense, but also flawed and strangely vulnerable. He's a good police officer trying to investigate a horrific crime within the boundaries of a corrupt and rigid system.

It's the setting, the glimpse of Russian life, politics and culture, along with Arkady Renko that make this atmospheric and quite intricate story so compelling. Well worth a look at.
Carol
Alas, I'm again the outlier.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Guardian Newspape...: August 2018 - Gorky Park 23 25 Sep 11, 2018 08:56AM  
Classic Trash: Gorky Park: In Progress (No Spoilers please.) 20 6 Nov 21, 2017 05:38PM  
Play Book Tag: Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith - 4 Stars 7 22 May 18, 2016 06:35PM  
Around the Year i...: Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith 1 15 Apr 01, 2016 08:22AM  
Gorky Park 13 49 Jan 15, 2015 10:10PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Ipcress File (Secret File, #1)
  • Death of a Dissident (Porfiry Rostnikov, #1)
  • Six Days of the Condor
  • Smiley's People
  • Marathon Man
  • The Manchurian Candidate
  • The First Deadly Sin (Deadly Sins, #2)
  • Eye of the Red Tsar (Inspector Pekkala, #1)
  • The Ghostway (Leaphorn & Chee, #6)
  • The Eagle Has Landed (Liam Devlin, #1)
  • Get Shorty (Chili Palmer, #1)
  • A Small Death in Lisbon
  • A Coffin for Dimitrios (Charles Latimer, #1)
  • The Holy Thief (Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev, #1)
  • The Laughing Policeman (Martin Beck, #4)
See similar books…
738 followers
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

Other books in the series

Arkady Renko (9 books)
  • Polar Star (Arkady Renko, #2)
  • Red Square (Arkady Renko, #3)
  • 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)
“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.” 8 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.” 7 likes
More quotes…