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Arkady Renko Books In Order

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Publication Order of Arkady Renko Books

Gorky Park is the first novel of the Arkady Renko series. Arkady is a chief investigator for the Soviet Militia within Moscow. He is in charge of different homicide investigations. The sequels are that he takes different roles from a worker on a fish processing ship to the militiaman worker.

Born in the nomenclatura, Renko is son to General Kiril Renko who is at the Red Army. His father is an unrepentant Stalinist that can otherwise be called ‘a butcher.’ He sees Arkady as his bitter failure by opting for a petty policeman job over going for a military career; he could have even gone for a career with the Communist Party.

Arkady too seems to never forgive himself for unwittingly and indirectly assisting her mother in suicide. He had helped her gather several rocks she used to drown herself in the lake at the family estate when young. Arkady is finally tired with the many official lies within the Soviet society. He decides to expose dishonesty and corruption on the part of the well-protected members and influential people. He goes rogue, regardless of any consequences.

As a common policeman he decides to serve with the Western capitalist society, this he finds to be equally and corrupt through and through. He finally returns to the Soviet Union. He also returns here to protect his love interest Irina. Despite his tough nature, Arkady arises as a man able to display faith and compassion for the future.

The Gorky Park novel also follows Arkady Renko being a chief investigator. He is assigned three corpses found at the amusement park known as Gorky Park in Moscow. They have their fingertips and faces cut off by the murderers to prevent identification of the victims.

Polar star

This was Arkady Renko’s second title in the series. A former Chief Investigator at the prosecutor’s office in Moscow town, he serves a self-imposed exile in Siberia. This is to avoid detainment for his actions at Gorky Park many years ago. Despite Soviet Union’s so called liberalization, he cannot take risk and continues with his menial employment as a fish gutter on a ship at the Arctic sea called polar star.

It comes to the attention of the ship’s captain that he was a former homicide investigator. This is after body of a young woman, Zina Patiashvili is found in a net full with freshly caught fish. As a result of his past homicide investigations, he is given the responsibility of finding out what really happened. Arkady’s investigation is welcomed warmly by Hess, the chief electrical engineer and assists him with some of his espionage activities.

Looking deep into the girl’s background, Renko discovers a somewhat Georgian personality. She is known for her many lovers including the ship’s Captain before eventually being one of the crew members. Looking further, he finds her fondness for music. He attracts unfortunate attention of the ship’s main gang who is also Arkady’s former prisoner.

Arkady grows weary of this investigation largely due to obstructive interactions of most of his shipmates. Most of which are concerned that the verdict could delay the long waited shore leave within the Dutch Harbor. He finally decides to go along with the original verdict of suicide. He is then sponsored to an impromptu leave of the shore by the chief Electrical Engineer Hess.

Karp, the leader of the ship’s gang attempts to finish Arkady off but fails miserably. He finally chooses, with the draconian Russian justice to await him back home where he can have him drowned on the icy water. The Polar Star ship returns to Vladivostok and Arkady says farewell to his fellow crewmen and Susan, his lover. He does not know the impending death awaiting him on the other side of the shore.


This is the last novel of the Arkady Renko’s series. As an iconic investigator of the contemporary fiction, he is analytical, quietly subversive and cynical. He has survived death attempts from the Soviet Union and New Russia. As he travels through different cultural journeys he finds himself in a nation obsessed with brutality and secrecy just like the old Communist dictatorial period.

This is Martin Cruz’s most ambitious novel. Our melancholy hero finds himself in a dangerous trail of mysterious and complex death. A somewhat investigative and fearless reporter Tatiana Petrovna falls to death from a high sixth-story window; this is according to the official police reports. This incident happens in Moscow. In the week of her death, billionaire Grisha is shot dead and buried with trappings.

No investigator can make this connection, but Arkady finds himself transfixed by the tapes he finds. He identifies Tatiana’s own voice in the tapes; this reveals horrific crimes that remained hidden by official cover stories. The list of gangsters, crooked cops and corrupt politicians that wanted Tatiana dead increases each day, her body is also found missing in the morgue a few days later. There is therefore no witnesses, no evidence of crime and worst of all no body. Despite seeming fruitless Renko looks for permission to pursue this case.

Renko’s Russia can be called a topsy-turvy world that hosts ambiguity. Renko, like in every other series goes rogue, this is in a bid to expose the horrifying crimes and corruption within the officials. He suffers betrayal and the only person he may rely on is Zhenya, which would like to run and join the army, and Victor, his vodka buddy. Even at some point, his girlfriend, Anya, who stood by him cozies up with the bad guys.

The plot in the Arkady Renko series is sweet mixture of gratuitous violence, happy mobsters and evil money making schemes. Love thrives amidst gunplay; Renko falls in love with dead Tatiana as he listens to her notes on tape. Martin Cruz Smith has been a great writer. His prose has been terse and his characters colorful. Renko’s interview with several gangsters is also amusing. Our apparent hero is also tough but vulnerable. He frequently comes up as fearless even under life threats. The series move right along with a massive set of characters that cause trouble and pull up surprises.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Arkady Renko

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