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Gorky Park

(Arkady Renko #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  61,281 ratings  ·  1,191 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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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 unforgettab…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.
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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’
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
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
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
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. But.

In Russia, many different
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
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
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
There seemed a kind of a hush all over our fifth-floor coffee and smoking lounge as I cracked open this then-new release on my lunch break, back in the early eighties.

And as I entered the crime scene with our dishevelled and grumpy Arcady Renko, deep within the famed Moscow park - in a fairytale midwinter scene of icily glittering snow - I saw how expertly the scene had been set for “doom, deep and darker than any sea-dingle!”

For the doom of widespread corruption is apocalyptic in its scope.

It w
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
Alex Cantone
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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
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
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 fil
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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
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
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.
Paul Haspel
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorky Park – officially, the Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure (Центральный парк культуры и отдыха имени Горького)– plays a role in Moscow life similar to that of Central Park in New York City. In both cases, the park offers green space for rest and renewal in the middle of a major city, along with recreational opportunities. Yet while Gorky Park was named for the Soviet writer Maxim Gorky, it is today best known for its associations with an American writer – Martin Cruz Smith, who made ...more
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
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
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.
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.
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian-history, war
Was really looking forward to this book as loved Child 44 and thought that Gorky Park would be a great read. I was very disappointed with this novel I felt the plot and the characters were very flat and story just seems to plod along.
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.
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
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
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Reading the 20th ...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith (November 2020) 1 8 Oct 20, 2020 05:16AM  
Crime, Mysteries ...: This topic has been closed to new comments. 06) Gorky Park (Jan 15) 1 7 Oct 12, 2020 03:21PM  
Guardian Newspape...: Gorky Park - August 2018 23 28 Sep 11, 2018 08:56AM  
Classic Trash: Gorky Park: In Progress (No Spoilers please.) 20 8 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 16 Apr 01, 2016 08:22AM  
Gorky Park 13 52 Jan 15, 2015 10:10PM  

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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

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