A passenger train hurtling through the night. An unwed
teenage mother headed to Moscow to seek a new life. A cruel-hearted
soldier looking furtively, forcibly, for sex. An infant
disappearing without a trace.
So begins Martin Cruz Smith's masterful Three Stations,
a suspenseful, intricately constructed novel featuring Investigator
Arkady Renko. For the last three decades, beginning with the
trailblazing Gorky Park, Renko (and Smith) have captivated
readers with detective tales set in Russia. Renko is the ironic,
brilliantly observant cop who finds solutions to heinous crimes
when other lawmen refuse to even acknowledge that crimes have
occurred. He uses his biting humor and intuitive leaps to fight not
only wrongdoers but the corrupt state apparatus as well.
In Three Stations, Renko's skills are put to their most
severe test. Though he has been technically suspended from the
prosecutor's office for once again turning up unpleasant truths, he
strives to solve a last case: the death of an elegant young woman
whose body is found in a construction trailer on the perimeter of
Moscow's main rail hub. It looks like a simple drug overdose to
everyone-except to Renko, whose examination of the crime scene
turns up some inexplicable clues, most notably an invitation to
Russia's premier charity ball, the billionaires' Nijinksy Fair.
Thus a sordid death becomes interwoven with the lifestyles of
Moscow's rich and famous, many of whom are clinging to their cash
in the face of Putin's crackdown on the very oligarchs who placed
him in power.
Renko uncovers a web of death, money, madness and a kidnapping
that threatens the woman he is coming to love and the lives of
children he is desperate to protect. In Three Stations,
Smith produces a complex and haunting vision of an emergent
Russia's secret underclass of street urchins, greedy thugs and a
bureaucracy still paralyzed by power and fear.