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Polar Star: A Novel Paperback – Jun 12 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (June 12 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345498178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345498175
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #299,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Sprung from a state psychiatric hospital, Arkady Renko takes refuge in Siberia, ultimately working on a Soviet factory ship in the Bering Sea. When one of his shipmates is murdered, he's pressed into service. "Those eagerly awaiting the return of Renko, the saturnine, chain-smoking police investigator from Moscow who appeared in the bestseller Gorky Park , will be glad to know their hero is back in fine form," said PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Martin Cruz Smith s novels include "Tatiana", "Stalin s Ghost, Gorky Park, Rose, December 6, Polar Star", and "Stallion Gate." A two-time winner of the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers and a recipient of Britain s Golden Dagger Award, he lives in California.


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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This certainly is a brilliant and very clever book. The imagination it took to write it in almost unbelievable; the location, characters, plot, etc. But it is a complicated book, and it will take me another reading, perhaps in a couple of years, to fully "get it". But it is wonderful to have a modern writer whose books are worth rereading!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Martin Cruz Smith is a former journalist and magazine editor. "Polar Star" was first published in 1998 and is the second of his books - after "Gorky Park" - to feature Arkady Renko.

Renko was once the Chief Homicide Investigator for Moscow's militia - more or less the 'standard' police force, which saw Renko dealing with the 'everyday'. (The KGB dealt with the really interesting cases). However, following the investigation outlined in "Gorky Park", Renko's life and career has taken a major nosedive. He's been dismissed from the Prosecutor's Office, dismissed from the Party for a lack of `political reliability' and sentenced to a life in Siberia - but only after being kept for psychiatric `observation'. He's found it difficult to make a new life for himself, as his past has always caught up with him. Usually, that costs him whatever job he happened to be doing. He now works as a Seaman (Second Class) on the Polar Star, a factory ship working in American waters between Siberia and Alaska. The operation is a joint Soviet - American venture : the smaller ships, American trawlers, catch the fish, while the Polar Star processes the catch. The Soviets take the fish, while the Americans take the money.

Four months out of Vladivostock, the nets return a little more than the usual catch : the body of Zina Patiashvili. Zina, a pretty blonde who worked in the cafeteria, was well-known onboard. Slava Bukovsky, the ship's third mate, is put in charge of the investigation into Zina's death. However, despite his lack of political reliability, Renko is appointed Bukowsky's assistant by the ship's captain, Viktor Marchuk. The captain makes it absolutely clear he wants no suggestion of a cover-up or a lack of a proper investigation.
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The second novel in the Arkady Renko series is the one I actually read first. Renko has escaped his enemies by going to work in a factory ship, the 'Polar Star.' Here, he will have to use his talents to solve the murder of a young Georgian (Soviet Georgian, that is) woman who had been in contact with Americans. As in "Gorky Park," the Americans are not portrayed too kindly, which only adds realism to the story. The most extraordinary thing about this book is the absolute control that Smith has of its setting. Once again the author has proven that he can not only tell an interesting tale, but that he can do it with enviable talent: the ice, the cold weather, the trapped ship, the people who lie to Renko for their own reasons, the plots within plots, all of this is masterly interwoven by Smith with apparent ease. Although "Polar Star" does not advance the story of Arkady and Irina (for those with a touch of the romantic in us), it does provide the credible setting for the investigator's return home, opening the way for the third book. The Renko novels are all good, even if the fourth one goes against my romantic streak, and Smith only proves that he is one of the best American writers today, period.
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The second novel in the Arkady Renko series is the one I actually read first. Renko has escaped his enemies by going to work in a factory ship, the 'Polar Star.' Here, he will have to use his talents to solve the murder of a young Georgian (Soviet Georgian, that is) woman who had been in contact with Americans. As in "Gorky Park," the Americans are not portrayed too kindly, which only adds realism to the story. The most extraordinary thing about this book is the absolute control that Smith has of its setting. Once again the author has proven that he can not only tell an interesting tale, but that he can do it with enviable talent: the ice, the cold weather, the trapped ship, the people who lie to Renko for their own reasons, the plots within plots, all of this is masterly interwoven by Smith with apparent ease. Although "Polar Star" does not advance the story of Arkady and Irina (for those with a touch of the romantic in us), it does provide the credible setting for the investigator's return home, opening the way for the third book. The Renko novels are all good, even if the fourth one goes against my romantic streak, and Smith only proves that he is one of the best American writers today, period.
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Polar Star is the first sequel to Gorky Park. In this version Arkady Renko has paid the price of principle and is a man on the run east through Siberia. We meet him in his ultimate hiding place, a "slime line" in the bowels of a huge Russian fish processing ship working in joint venture with the Americans in the Bering Sea.
Of course a murder brings Arkady out of a year of obscurity into the light of day as the discredited former chief investigator. As with Gorky Park we are presented the man of principle against people and a system that really doesn't want to be challenged. After reading Gorky Park, you can't help but wonder why Renko tortures himself by obsessively getting deeper and deeper into the investigation of a young woman's murder.
You will read this because you have identified closely with the character of Renko. The story also serves to be part two of a lesson in Soviet thinking and and indirect commentary of Western capitolism as Communism nears collapse.
I enjoyed the book because of my interest in Renko and the hopes of finding out more of what happened in the days following the conclusion of Gorky Park. A little disappointing was the derth of information of what was transpiring with Irina, his Gorky Park love interest. If a person comes to this book before reading Gorky, they will be somewhat lost.
You might also notice as I did just how little dialogue the character Renko had. He never really enters a conversation, is constantly evasive. While I understood that to be the manner of the investigator's character, I found myself hoping he would just sit down one time and really say something substantial. Conversations always start but are interupted.
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