Guardian Newspaper 1000 Novels discussion

Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1)
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Monthly Book Reads > Gorky Park - August 2018

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Darren (dazburns) | 666 comments Mod
In August we will be reading Gorky Park in our Crime category - who's in?

I keep hearing good things about this one, and I got it in a cheap offer on Kindle a while back, so I'll definitely be reading it...


Jackie | 88 comments I started yesterday, and am absolutely loving it so far! A perfect read for summer. Poor Detective Renko, trying to do his job with a whole system set up against him and having to tread on eggshells so he doesn't get on someone's s***list.


message 3: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments I’m in - waiting for the library reservation to arrive


Phil (lanark) | 436 comments I'm in, for once :)


message 5: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments I’m picking up my library copy on Saturday - whoop! Anything I need to watch out for? You have to warn me of things I should be offended by because I just get lost in the story ;-)
Also I have a few paperbacks from the list that I no longer need.....Would anyone be interested in a swap feed? We could do it on a “pay it forward” kind of thing, we list what we have, if someone is interested they make friends with us, DM the address and the owner posts in the hopes of picking one up at some other time? Just an idea :-)


message 6: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 237 comments I totally neglected trying to find a copy, but I just checked the library shelves, and whomp, there it is.

365 dense pages.

Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1) by Martin Cruz Smith


message 7: by Phrodrick (last edited Aug 09, 2018 04:46PM) (new)

Phrodrick | 155 comments It would appear that no one has done any background on this break out novel. I read these as they came out. Not sure I made it through all 8, but book one was for me a total page turner

Among other things I liked the sense that we were deep inside the belly of the almost dying Soviet Beast.

As for Martin Cruz Smith, At this point he had published another set of "Who done its" to no great notice and had edited one of the lessor Men's Magazines. As in less standing than Playboy. Some one else can check but I think it was Saga
https://www.google.com/search?q=saga+...

One of these.

The year is 1981, early Reagan Years, America is not looking to have a Russian, aparatchick hero. Smith, got stonewalled at the publisher level. No one wanted a good guy Soviet Police Officer.

Meantime once published, the book was banned in Russia and was therefore hugely popular... in Russia.

This just In Smith had insider help:
Alex Levin, a Russian exile
https://www.theguardian.com/books/200...

This being a Guardian List, perhaps a Guardian profile should become standard


message 8: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 237 comments Phrodrick wrote: "It would appear that no one has done any background on this break out novel. I read these as they came out. Not sure I made it through all 8, but book one was for me a total page turner

Among othe..."


Hey, Phred! Glad to see you posting!

"Banned in Russia" reminds me of "Banned in Boston."- which it looks like Saga magazine was going for.


message 9: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 237 comments Of the other Arkady Renko mysteries, I'm pretty sure the worst was "Stalin's Ghost," although that's not a bad title.

Polar Star, Red Square,- there is one set in Cuba and one set in Chernobyl ("Wolves Eat Dogs")- none of them have the elan of G to the P.


message 10: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick | 155 comments Not sure I should thank you for the reminder about Stalin's Ghost. Agreed not that great.
The one in Cuba did little for me, Wolves eat Dogs is a great title.
MCS did a lot of research on and in Chernobyl

Polar Star was just so unlikely that I kinda took to it


Jackie | 88 comments I just finished this. A great book and a real page turner. The chapter on the fire shook me a bit. I live in Rafina, Greece where we had a horrific wildfire a couple of weeks ago. Strange how a book can affect you in ways you don't expect.


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Hey, I'm finally in for a group read! looking forward to it, guys!


message 13: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (lanark) | 436 comments 150 pages in (out of 550) and I'm enjoying this, but it always amazes me how bad / pedestrian the dialogue and description is in even the best crime novels when compared with literary fiction.

I sometimes feel like it's written as the same pace it's read at :)


Leslie | 825 comments I have started this (~20% done) and am enjoying it.

Phrodrick wrote: "Among other things I liked the sense that we were deep inside the belly of the almost dying Soviet Beast...."

Yes! That is one of the aspects that I like about this. I am pleased to see in your post that Smith had a Russian advisor/source as one thing that I was wondering about was whether this was what it really was like in the USSR in the early 1980s or just how Americans thought that it was like.


message 15: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (lanark) | 436 comments I enjoyed that. it had problems: it was too long and the switch to New York at the end was both confusing and unnecessary, and the character of Irina didn't make a lot of sense. But I thought the Byzantine maze of bureaucracy, lies, incompetency and masks were very well portrayed.


Marilyn | 50 comments Phil wrote: "I enjoyed that. it had problems: it was too long and the switch to New York at the end was both confusing and unnecessary, and the character of Irina didn't make a lot of sense. But I thought the B..."

I agree. I liked the book but I thought the author worked awfully hard in the last section to get the bureaucratic craziness to tie together with the murders.


message 17: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (lanark) | 436 comments I actually think the book would have been better had it ended in Moscow, perhaps keeping the coda with Purbluda. The New York sequence added nothing essential to the book.


Leslie | 825 comments Having seen the movie a few times, I found the second section a bit of a surprise. It fitted in to the plot and mood perfectly; it was just not portrayed in the film. In the end, it was one of my favorite parts of the book! I liked how (view spoiler)


message 19: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 25 comments This book may have a few structural flaws, but I for one found it MUCH better than the ensuing movie.


Darren (dazburns) | 666 comments Mod
just started this (better late than never!)
very slick/readable so far - must've been ahead of its time in 1981 as this style is still current!


message 21: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 25 comments Apparently it was very influential in its style.
And the tail end of Soviet Communism -- God, the corruption!
I can see why it was bound to fail.


Darren (dazburns) | 666 comments Mod
I finished this the other night having really enjoyed it
engaging characters, unusual setting, action, twisty-turny plot
all good
4 Stars
my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 23: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 25 comments Darren wrote: "I finished this the other night having really enjoyed it
engaging characters, unusual setting, action, twisty-turny plot
all good
4 Stars
my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."


Nice review, Darren!
GORKY PARK is indeed an excellent crime novel. So much so that Martin Cruz Smith went on to write a whole series of "Arkady Renko" novels, but I haven't read any of them yet.


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