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Polar Star

(Arkady Renko #2)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  7,389 ratings  ·  350 reviews
In the long-awaited sequel to Gorky Park, Arkady Renko returns to Russia to work on the Polar Star, a huge fishing-factory ship. When a young girl is murdered, Renko is asked to investigate . . . and enters a case as chilling and gripping as his previous adventure.
Paperback, 366 pages
Published June 13th 1990 by Ballantine Books (first published June 13th 1989)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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James Thane
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
In the first major case of his literary career, Gorky Park, Moscow detective Arkady Renko antagonized too many powerful people. As a consequence, he lost his job and his Communist party membership and was shuffled off into oblivion. He then disappeared from view for eight years before returning in Polar Star.

Renko's fallen about as far as a man possibly can. From being at the top of his profession as a criminal investigator, he's now working on the slime line on a Russian factory fishing ship i
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko books are a series of mysteries set at various points in late 2oth century Russian history, starting with the last death throes of Communism. This is the second book in the series. I’ve read Stalin’s Ghost (#6) and watched the film version of Gorky Park (#1). Here, Renko, a former criminal investigator, has fled Moscow after the events of Gorky Park and is on the run from the KGB. After a series of awful jobs, he ends up gutting fish on a trawler in the Bering Se ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I remember reading Gorky Park many years ago. In fact I reread it several times. I enjoyed the politics of The Soviet Union and the corruption of the state. This is the next book in the series, which I believe was not written until many years after the original.

This is set on a factory ship in the seas off Alaska. This provides tension and claustrophobia to the is very atmospheric. I really enjoyed the comparison between the Soviet ship and the American one. There were spies
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Don't pass on this one. It's one of my favorite Renko stories. His first exile and on a Russian fish factory ship where Smith gives you a palpable sense of what that must mean for the body and the spirit. The mystery and investigation is also top notch with typical Renko twists and insights. One of those rare mysteries that I have enjoyed reading over again.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’m not sure why I delayed getting to this title since I enjoyed Gorky Park so much, to which this book is a sequel of sorts. Of sorts, because it follows directly on the heels of Gorky, but the author in a few brief paragraphs lays out precisely why Arkady, formerly head investigator for the prosecutor’s office in Moscow is now working as a slimer on a factory ship in the Bering Sea.

It’s good. Those who don’t like what they view as excessive detail in Moby Dick probably won’t like this book eit
Ken Consaul
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I'm picking Polar Star as my favorite in the Arkady Renko series. The first is Gorky Park and I recommend starting with it. Each is a self-contained mystery but the background of the protagonist adds considerably to the story.

In Plar Star, Arkady Renko is working on a fish-processing ship in the Bering Sea. This is his reward for solving a politically sensitive murder investigation in the previous Gorky Park. Renko was a Moscow police investigator during the Soviet regime. His dealings with bure
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Polar Star', #2 in the Inspector Arkady Renko series, is a terrific story! I think it way more superior to the first book in the series, Gorky Park. It can be a standalone read, but Renko's backstory, which is referred to occasionally in this novel, is described in its entirety in the first novel. Missing from this narrative is exactly why Renko, an educated man who was an excellent Moscow police detective, is now on the run and hiding from the close attention of various Soviet political author ...more
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
More than a decade ago, I attempted to read a mystery called Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith. I couldn’t stomach it. Though it had received rave reviews, it seemed to plod and creak toward very little. I tossed it in a box and, after several cross-country moves, I have no clue where it is. But before I gave up on Gorky Park, a selection from the Mystery Book Club arrived in my mailbox. I didn’t get home in time to return it and ended up with Polar Star, the sequel to Gorky Park, in hardbound. I ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The sequel to Gorky Park is more entertaining than the original.The setting aboard a factory fishing ship in the Bering Sea is memorable.
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
to start off: i thought it was marvellous. one hardly comes across crime novels of such good quality. i bought it because i remembered i had read Gorky Park some years ago and i really liked it.

the book follows arkady renko, who, after some investigation not quite satisfactory to the state, works on a soviet factory ship that works together with american boats on a joint venture.
one day a corpse comes up in the net of one of the factory ship's girls. as the only person on board experienced with
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow, a huge improvement on Gorky Park, which I really liked. It all takes place on a fish processing boat in the Bering Sea, several years after Renko loses his job and Party membership for the events in Gorky Park. Renko is now reduced to cleaning fish in subzero temperatures, until a murder occurs on board, and he is very reluctantly pulled into the investigation. Unlike Gorky Park, where the reader knows the identity of the murderer practically from the start, this is a stone-cold whodunit. E ...more
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A superb, engrossing, brutal thriller. This is the third Arkady Renko I've read (I read Red Square first, since I owned it, then Gorky Park) and the best of the three so far. Gorky Park dwelt too much on the unlikable Irina. Since I liked Arkady so much, I couldn't understand what he saw in this Siberian hussy. Maybe you have to be male. Irina fortunately doesn't present herself in Polar Star; there are only a few mentions of her. There is a Georgian hussy here, but she's not heinous. In fact, s
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After Arkady Renko’s last case (Gorky Park) ended in a Phyrric victory, he was interned in a Soviet hospital and diagnosed with “sluggish schizophrenia.” (The theory behind this diagnosis was that anyone who acted against the state was clearly insane.) Martin Cruz Smith’s novel Polar Star begins a few years after Renko’s ignoble dismissal from the Moscow militia. When we finally catch up to him, Renko is working on the “slime line” on a factory ship. He’s run as far east as he can to get away fr ...more
Peter Tillman
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Polar thriller fans
This is an amazing book. The sequel to "Gorky Park," it's set in the last days of the USSR and the Cold War. Arkady Renko is a worthy protagonist, and indeed just about all of the characters are well-drawn. One of my favorites was Karp Korobetz, a tattooed gangster who Arkady had sent to prison many years before. He becomes Renko's nemesis in the story, and very nearly succeeds in murdering him, in some chilling action sequences. And they almost become friends by the end of the book, in a scene ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Gorky Park, Martin Cruz Smith conjured a claustrophobic atmosphere in Soviet-era Moscow; that task is simpler here, where the action takes place on a handful of ships and a single, small Aleutian island. Yet the overall feel is considerably more upbeat, perhaps because former detective Arkady Renko enters this story at rock bottom, cutting fish on the slime line of a fish processing ship. A young woman worker from the boat goes missing but, before anyone really notices, reappears from the dep ...more
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Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
This is the second book in the Arkady Renko series and I have to say I found it a bit slow. As mentioned above, the whole book takes place on a Soviet Factory ship in the Bearing Sea, where American ships bring their fish to be processed rather than returning to a factory on American soil. However, there are only so many people on said ship and Renko pursues this murder with an almost bulldoggish determination that at 384 pages becomes almost tedious. Smith does have one advantage that I admire ...more
Alan Marchant
May 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Polar Star is set in the microcosm of a Soviet fish-factory ship working the fog-shrouded waters of the Arctic Sea. The story begins as a member of the crew is dredged up in one of the fishing nets. Arkady Renko, a former detective exiled to the gulag as a reward for previous successes, is called up (unwillingly for all concerned) from the "slime line" to find a harmless explanation for the accident.

The book is satisfying as a classic murder mystery. It's even more interesting as an exploration
Having just re-watched Gorky Park, I decided I wanted to go back through the Arkady Renko mysteries, read the ones I hadn't and re-read the others. Here's a piece of advice: don't wait too long before you do something like this. There was only 1 copy of the audiobook in my largish library system--but it's narrated by the late great Frank Muller so I'm glad to have had a chance to listen. Arkady is in trouble after Gorky Park and put in a psychiatric hospital in Siberia. But he escapes with a lit ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
So long ago I read GORKY PARK, and I really enjoyed it, and then recently I read a much-later volume, which at first I thought was a stand-alone, and I knew I would have to go back and make some attempt at reading all of the series. Smith is a good writer, his story keeps you riveted, and it doesn't hurt that the action takes place amongst Russians (reflecting an era active during my life, which also makes it interesting). Surely there will be repetition and template-like action, but somehow I t ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shunted off to a Soviet psychiatric hospital after Gorky Park (embarrassed the state, but son of a famous military father), former Inspector Arkady Renko manages to get sent to work on a Russian fishing/processing ship in the Bering sea, finding some peace on the "slime line" gutting and scaling. As usual, a body drops out of the nets--a young Georgian woman on bad terms with the Soviet authorities and Americans in Alaska. Arkady is called upon to redeem himself by wading into another diplomatic ...more
Asghar Abbas
Mar 01, 2016 rated it liked it

It was a fine sequel, don't get me wrong. But I am thinking this sort of thing must have made for nice entertainment during the cold war.

I like how McS had inverted the theme of heroes and villains.

That I like.
Rossrn Nunamaker
Apr 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Polar Star was written in 1989 and featured detective Arkady Renko who first appeared in Smith's Gorky Park (published in 1981).

The book is set during the time of the Soviet Union, but near the end when there was some cooperation, though utter distrust, between the US and Soviets. While Gorky Park was primarily set in the city of Moscow, Polar Star is the name of a massive factory ship (fish processing) in the Bearing Strait.

The floating city is full of people with pasts who have fled the gover
Aug 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Every bit as good as I remembered. Highly recommended! I worship MCS for his grittily vivid scenes, lovable shady characters, and wonderfully surreal landscapes. (Not to mention his Russian soul!) If you haven't read Gorky Park, read that one first!

As usual, Arkady Renko is reluctant to begin a murder investigation--this time into the death of a popular young woman on board the Soviet fish-processing factory ship, the Polar Star.

As he discovers one shady operation after another--smuggling, spyi
Perry Whitford
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well earned second outing for Cruz Smith's dogged and durable Russian homicide investigator after the international success of Gorky Park.

No longer an investigator and with his Party membership revoked, Arkady Renko is effectively a criminal on the run, hiding out in the Bering Sea gutting fish on the 'slime line' of the huge factory ship, Polar Star.

The fishing operation is a joint venture with the Americans, but Glasnost doesn't mean the end of the Cold War as Renko finds his services requi
David Gooch
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very interesting read.
This is the second Renko book and in this one he finds himself stuck on an Arctic fish factory ship and when a body turns up in the nets who is one of the crew, it is Renko who is called on to investigate.
There are a lot of developing threads and twists in the book along with the fact that on the boat is one of the guys he had caught previously and is looking for revenge. So he has to dodge the potential threat of him and keep hunting for the killer. Then he has the migh
Martin Cruz Smith may be American, but he writes like a Russian. I've never before read a non-Eastern European able to portray the Russian/Eastern-block communist mood with such insight and accuracy. When I first encountered Gorky Park, I couldn't believe Cruz Smith wasn't raised in Stalin's USSR--his humor, sensibilities, language, characters are simply native/perfect. Polar Star maintains the Russian authenticity.

That, of course, is the highest praise. And to top it off, I am madly in love wit
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
SETTING: Bering Sea
RATING: 4.25
WHY: Once a criminal investigator in Moscow, Arkady Renko had his party membership removed and has since toiled at degrading, menial jobs until he can return to his country. He’s worked in a reindeer slaughterhouse and now is on the “slime line” of a fishing ship called the Polar Star which works with American trawlers. When one of the crew is found in a fishing net and Arkady ventures an opinion that it was not an accident, he is
Marcia Chocinsky
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Martin Cruz Smith has to be one of the best Crime-Mystery writers out there. His characters are uniquely defined and the plotting is complex and his prose is extremely well written ... All this, in addition to being set against the backdrop of Cold War era Soviet-US relations, makes his novels stand out when compared to others in this genre. I truly enjoyed Gorky Park when it first came out and I am surprised that it has already been 30+years since then. I fell behind in my reading during my wor ...more
Terry Cornell
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of my new favorites! A follow up to 'Gorky Park'. Arkady Renko former Moscow investigator finds himself working the 'slime line' on a Soviet factory ship in the Bering Sea. Murder mystery wrapped in a spy thriller, or spy thriller wrapped in a murder mystery? I can't tell. So many twists and turns. A bonus of the Kindle edition I read was a portion of an interview with the author. He did not intend to write of further adventures of Arkady Renko after finishing 'Gorky Park', but found inspira ...more
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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)
  • Red Square (Arkady Renko, #3)
  • Havana Bay (Arkady Renko, #4)
  • Wolves Eat Dogs (Arkady Renko, #5)
  • Stalin's Ghost (Arkady Renko, #6)
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  • Tatiana (Arkady Renko, #8)
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