Rediscover: Gorky Park

Mystery writer Martin Cruz Smith, best known for his novels with Russian detective Arkady Renko, is set to receive a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Smith, son of a jazz musician father and Amerindian activist mother, turned from journalism to fiction in the early '70s. Canto for a Gypsy, Smith's second novel with New York art dealer/gypsy Roman Grey, was nominated for an Edgar. Smith's first breakthrough came with Nightwing (1977), which he helped adapt into a film. Smith has also written other series and numerous standalones under multiple pen names.

Gorky Park (1981), Smith's first thriller with Arkady Renko, became a major bestseller. Set in the Soviet Union, Gorky Park follows a chief investigator for the Moscow militsiya on a case involving three bodies discovered in the titular amusement park. Renko is often an ill-fit for his society, branded with "Pathoheterodoxy Syndrome," a fictional mental illness similar in some respects to the "sluggish schizophrenia" diagnosis used on some real-life Soviet dissidents. Renko has appeared in seven more titles, which chronicle the tumultuous recent decades of Russian history as much as Renko's cases. His most recent appearance is Tatiana (2013). Smith's latest novel, The Girl from Venice, is available from Simon & Schuster, which has also recently reprinted Gorky Park ($16, 9781501177965). --Tobias Mutter

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