Martin Cruz Smith is a former journalist and magazine editor. "Red Square" is his fifth novel - a series that began with "Gorky Park" - to feature Arkady Renko and was first published in 2004.
Renko, the hero, works as an Investigator with Moscow's militia - more or less the standard police force - and has something of a chequered career. Never a truly 'practising' member of the Party, Renko hasn't always been thought highly of by those in authority. He has always wanted to catch the people responsible for the crimes he's investigating, regardless of the 'political' consequences - as a result of this, he was once dismissed from the Party for a lack of 'political reliability' and sentenced to a life in Siberia. He has been rehabilitated for several years now, though he always remained something of a disappointment to his father - a very famous ex-General. His father has been dead for some time, something Arkady never seemed too bothereed about. However, he hasn't yet entirely gotten over the death of his wife, Irina.
Pasha Ivanov was one of the 'new' Russia's most successful businessmen - President of NoviRus and worth an absolute fortune. However, the businessman has - it would appear - jumped to his death through his apartment window. The book opens in the apartment, with Arkady peering through the window towards the corpse on the pavement. Among those also present are Prosecutor Zurin (Arkady's boss), Bobby Hoffman (Ivanov's American assistant) and Lev Timofeyev - an old friend of Ivanov's and a Senior Vice-President at NoviRus. The pair had studied together at the Institute, and were two particular favourites of the noted Academican Gerasimov. Zurin is happy to write it off as suicide, and there is little - other than, possibly, a large pile of salt in the closet - to make Renko think anyone else was involved. At Hoffman's insistence, Arkady keeps looking into it though - something that doesn't make him very popular with neither Zurin, nor Colonel Ozhogin - Head of Security at NoviRus. Naturally, when the pile of salt in Ivanov's closet turns out to be radioactive and Timofeyev turns up murdered in Chernobyl, it's Arkady sent to investigate.
I've really enjoyed the Renko books to date - though, after a brief trip to Cuba for "Havana Bay", I'm glad to see the action taking place a little closer to home. The introduction of Zhenya - an eleven year old boy who lives at one of Moscow's shelters - was an interesting one. Arkady occasionally spends a free day with the boy, who seems to have some difficulty relating to people. I'm hoping, though, their relationship will continue in later books.