Tatiana: An Arkady Renko Novel

Tatiana is the seventh installment in Martin Cruz Smith's popular Arkady Renko mystery series, which began in 1981 with Gorky Park. As with many of its predecessors, the novel draws from contemporary headlines; this time, Cruz takes inspiration from the 2006 assassination of Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya.

Tatiana opens in Kaliningrad, an isolated seaport town on the Baltic Sea. Joseph, a translator, is riding his bicycle when he's approached by a butcher's van. As he's seized, his notebook--the pages of which look "as if someone had poured out the contents of a typographer's box and tossed in gnostic symbols"--is tossed away.

In Moscow, the news is that Tatiana Petrovna, a fearless journalist and supporter of lost causes, has committed suicide. Renko visits her apartment, talks to a few people and becomes convinced she was murdered. He wants to examine her body, but it has disappeared. A Russian mob boss, Grisha Grigorenko, was killed just before Tatiana's death. Could the two deaths and Joseph's kidnapping be connected? Renko thinks Joseph's notebook has some answers and he enlists the help of his former ward, Zhenya, a chess master, to decode it.

Smith writes with the assured confidence of a master storyteller working with material he knows well as he draws us deeply into modern Russia's corrupt and dissolute world. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

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