Sunday, August 1, 2010

Finished: "Stalin's Ghost" by Martin Cruz Smith

Finished: Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith, 2007, 9780743276726.

Arkady Renko novel. This novel felt sloppy. Messy. I almost quit reading after about 40 pages or so but I like the Renko character and finished the book.

Renko gets assigned to investigate sightings of Stalin's ghost in the subway. Stalin is still politically important. A resurgence of uber-patriotism has brought Stalin back as a symbol of Russian strength and success.

Renko investigates. Renko runs across murder case investigated by two New Detectives who are Chechen War heroes. Renko thinks they screwed up the innvestigation. Renko starts looking into the New Detectives. One of them is a political candidate.

Renko finds that other members of the New Detectives small unit are getting killed off. Renko gets threatened by his boss, the prosecutor. Renko doctor girlfriend runs off with one of the New Detectives who she knew in Chechnya before meeting Renko in Chernobyl.

Renko worries for street kid he has been looking after. Things happen. Bodies from WWII are dug up. Renko goes to Tver, Russia. Renko doesn't carry a gun. Everyone wants to kill Renko. Things work out in the end.

1. Messy, things were not fitting together very well. I thought the description and flow could have been cleaned up quite a bit.
2. I think Brent Ghelfi's novels discuss modern Russia better than Smith's.
3. More info on Arkady's father, The General, and the suicide of Arkady's mother.
4. The General comes off better in this novel than the others. There are three instances when The General's teaching come in handy: mine clearing, "hit first", pistol reassembly.

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