In Gorky Park (above) Renko investigates a triple murder in a
Moscow amusement park. Three corpses are frozen in the snow,
their faces and fingers removed. The top action adventure of the
1980s takes Renko, and the reader, from Moscow to Siberia on a
wild ride that features the KGB, the FBI, Americans, sables, and a
The book was made into a film in 1983, starring William Hurt (above
left) and Lee Marvin.
Polar Star, the sequel to Gorky Park, finds Arkady Renko reduced
to working on a Russian factory trawler in the Bering Sea. When the
net releases its catch of fish--and a dead young woman--Renko
returns to the police work he knows so well.
He soon discovers that nothing on the Polar Star is what it seems,
and that he has a murderer and an enemy from his past to contend
As a child, when Martin Cruz Smith played Cowboys and Indians, he
always wanted to be the Indian. As an adult during the Cold War, he
wondered what it would be like to be a Russian. As a writer, he wrote
novels about Russia that featured a Russian policeman,
In Red Square, Arkady returns to Moscow to find that much has
changed. The blackmarket rules the Russian underworld. In a plot
that takes him to Munich and Berlin, Renko revisits the dacha of his
heroic father and the dissident he loves as he learns more about his
country and himself.
"The book's depiction of contemporary Soviet life was so
alarmingly accurate, it was soon banned in the Soviet Union," said
Alex Levin, a Russian exile in America who helped Smith with his
research. (See Author Video.)
"It quickly became popular with dissident intellectuals, even scientist
and academician Andrei Sakharov. He enjoyed action books
anyway, but this was the first American one he liked. That's some
These are three of seven books in Smith's Arkady Renko series.