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Three Stations (Arkady Renko Series #7)

Three Stations (Arkady Renko Series #7)

3.2 178
by Martin Cruz Smith

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Martin Cruz Smith's Three Stations is now available on audio for only $14.99!

For the last three decades, beginning with the trailblazing Gorky Park, Inspector Arkady Renko has captivated listeners with detective tales set in Russia. Now, in Three Stations, Renko’s skills are put to their most severe test.

Though he has been


Martin Cruz Smith's Three Stations is now available on audio for only $14.99!

For the last three decades, beginning with the trailblazing Gorky Park, Inspector Arkady Renko has captivated listeners with detective tales set in Russia. Now, in Three Stations, Renko’s skills are put to their most severe test.

Though he has been technically suspended from the prosecutor’s office for once again turning up unpleasant truths, Renko strives to solve a last case: the death of an elegant young woman whose body is found in a construction trailer on the perimeter of Moscow’s main rail hub. It looks like a simple drug overdose to everyone—except to Renko, whose examination of the crime scene turns up some inexplicable clues, most notably an invitation to Russia’s premier charity ball. Renko uncovers a web of death, money, madness, and a kidnapping that threatens the woman he is coming to love and the lives of children he is desperate to protect. In Three Stations, Martin Cruz Smith produces a complex and haunting vision of Russia’s emergent secret underclass of street urchins, greedy thugs, and a bureaucracy still paralyzed by power and fear.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Smith] takes what in essence is a police procedural and elevates it to the level of absorbing fiction.”

Nicholas A. Basbanes, Los Angeles Times

“A continuing adventure that in terms of popular fiction is surely a work of art.”

—Patrick Anderson, Washington Post

“Martin Cruz Smith knows his Russia. Every page reeks of Moscow: dirty snow, the stink of cigarette and vodka fumes, the cynicism and tasteless opulence of the mafia, the all-pervasive corruption.”

—The Economist

“The sustained success of Smith’s Renko books is based on much more than Renko. This author’s gift for tart, succinct description creates a poisonous political backdrop, one that makes his characters’ survival skills as important as any of their other attributes. . . [This is] one top-flight series, still sharply honed, none the worse for wear.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times

“There are few thriller practitioners indeed who can weld a story to a graceful chassis of literature and send it barreling away at top speed. Martin Cruz Smith is one of them.”

Andrew Z. Galarneau, Buffalo News

“As always, Smith elevates a police procedural story to a taste of Russia, a glass of vodka poured quivering to the brim.”

Jennifer Kay, Associated Press

In twenty-nine years, there have only been seven Arkady Renko novels and every single one of them has justified readers' high level of anticipation. The latest of these Martin Cruz Smith fictions is Three Stations, set once again in the ominous dark corridors and shadowy places of modern-day Moscow. A worthy successor to Stalin's Ghost. (Hand-selling tip: Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko is one of the most striking, memorable protagonists in crime fiction.)
Olen Steinhauer
Like the luminaries of the genre, Smith is at heart a deeply moral writer, and beneath his wry, cynical tone you can feel his authorial anger twitching a safe distance away. Paired with what reads deceptively like a native's knowledge of Russia, it makes for a potent brew…long live Renko. I don't care how he lays waste to Moscow package tours, for without this despairing seeker of truth, what would that heightened Russia of our imagination be left with? Convenient truths, still-buried secrets and tales that end abruptly before they've gotten started. We'd all be the worse for it.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Smith's seventh Arkady Renko novel (after Stalin's Ghost) falls short of his usual high standard. The Russian police detective, now a senior investigator, is seriously considering quitting the force because his boss, state prosecutor Zurin, refuses to assign him any cases. Renko seizes the chance to buck Zurin by finding the truth behind the death of a prostitute found in a workers' trailer parked in Moscow's seedy Three Stations (aka Komsomol Square). While the young woman, who Renko guesses is 18 or 19, apparently took a fatal drug overdose, he believes she was murdered. A subplot centering on a mother whose infant is stolen on a train detracts from rather than enhances the main investigation. This disappointing entry does only a superficial job of bringing the reader inside today's Russia. Hopefully, Smith and Renko will return to form next time. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Arkady Renko's reward for his investigative prowess described in five previous novels (from Gorky Park to Stalin's Ghost) is pathetic—he's about to be cashiered from his job as a cop in Moscow. He and his alcoholic detective buddy Viktor find a lovely young woman dead in a filthy trailer in Three Stations, a crime-ridden transportation center. The fate of one prostitute, however young or beautiful, is a trivial matter to their boss, so the investigation is squelched. Renko forges on stubbornly and develops clues that point to a serial killer on the loose. At the same time, Zhenya, Renko's solitary protégée, is embroiled in the kidnapping of another prostitute's infant. At Three Stations these two grim story arcs converge, and Renko's bravery, tenacity, and sheer intelligence are burnished to a warm glow in this compact yet deeply textured and finely written descent into Moscow's lower depths. VERDICT Fans everywhere will be eager to get the latest installment in the Renko saga, a terrific oeuvre for readers in every public library. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/10.]—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
Arkady Renko Series , #7
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 5.86(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt


The summer night swam by. Villages, ripening fields, derelict churches flowed and mixed with Maya’s dreams.

She tried to stay awake but sometimes her eyelids had their way. Sometimes the girl dreamt of the train’s first-class passengers tucked away asleep in their compartments.

Hard class had no compartments. “Hard class” was a dormitory coach where a few lamps were still lit and snoring, muffled sex, body odor and domestic quarrels were shared by all. Some passengers had been on the train for days and the fatigue of close quarters had set in. A round-the-clock card game among oil riggers soured and turned to resentment and accusations. A Gypsy went from berth to berth hawking the same shawls in a whisper. University students traveling on the cheap were deep in the realm of their headphones. A priest brushed cake crumbs from his beard. Most of the passengers were as nondescript as boiled cabbage. An inebriated soldier wandered up and down the corridor.

Still Maya preferred the rough sociability of hard class to traveling first class. Here she fit in. She was fifteen years old, a stick figure in torn jeans and a bomber jacket the texture of cardboard, her hair dyed a fiery red. One canvas bag held her earthly possessions, the other hid her baby girl of three weeks, tightly swaddled and lulled by the rocking of the train. The last thing Maya needed was to be trapped in a compartment under the scrutiny of snobs. Not that she could have afforded first class anyway.

After all, a train was just a communal apartment on rails, Maya decided. She was used to that. Most of the men stripped to warm-up pants, undershirts and slippers for the duration; she watched for any who had not because a shirt with long sleeves might conceal the tattoos of someone sent to bring her back. Playing it safe, she had chosen an otherwise empty berth. She talked to none of the other passengers and none noticed that the baby was on board.

Maya enjoyed creating stories about new people, but now her imagination was caught up with the baby, who was both a stranger and part of herself. The baby was, in fact, the most mysterious person she had ever met. All she knew was that her baby was perfect, translucent, unflawed.

The baby stirred and Maya went to the vestibule at the end of the car. There, half open to the wind and clatter of the train, she nursed the baby and indulged in a cigarette. Maya had been drug-free for seven months.

A full moon kept pace. From the tracks spread a sea of wheat, water tanks, a silhouette of a shipwrecked harvester. Six more hours to Moscow. The baby’s eyes regarded her solemnly. Returning the gaze, Maya was so hypnotized that she did not hear the soldier join her in the vestibule until the sliding door closed behind him and he said smoking was bad for the baby. His voice was a jolt, a connection with reality.

He removed the cigarette from her mouth and snapped it out the vestibule window.

Maya took the baby from her breast and covered herself.

The soldier asked if the baby was in the way. He thought it was. So he told Maya to put the baby down. She held on, although he slid his hand inside her jacket and squeezed her breast hard enough to draw milk. His voice cracked when he told her what else he wanted her to do. But first she had to put the baby down. If she didn’t, he would throw the baby off the train.

It took a second for Maya to process his words. If she screamed, could anyone hear her? If she fought, would he toss the baby like an unwanted package? She saw it covered with leaves, never to be found. All she knew was that it was her fault. Who was she to have such a beautiful baby?

Before she could put the baby down, the vestibule door opened. A large figure in gray stepped out, gathered the soldier’s hair with the grip of a butcher and laid a knife across his neck. It was the babushka who had been suffering the crumbs of the priest. The old woman told the soldier she would geld him next time they met and gave him a vigorous kick as a demonstration of sincerity. He could not get to the next car fast enough.

When Maya and the baby returned to their berth, the babushka brought tea from the samovar and watched over them. Her name was Helena Ivanova but she said that everyone up and down the line called her Auntie Lena.

Worn-out, Maya finally allowed herself to plunge into true sleep, down a dark slope that promised oblivion.

When Maya next opened her eyes sunlight flooded the coach. The train was at a platform and the dominant sound was flies circling in the warm air. The fullness in her breasts was urgent. Her wristwatch said 7:05. The train was expected to arrive at six-thirty. There was no sign of Auntie Lena. Both baskets were gone.

Maya rose and walked unsteadily down the corridor. All the other passengers—the boisterous oil riggers, the university boys, the Gypsy and the priest—were gone. Auntie Lena was gone. Maya was the only person on the train.

Maya stepped onto the platform and fought her way through early-morning passengers boarding a train on the opposite side. People stared. A porter let his baggage cart coast into her shin. The ticket takers at the gate didn’t remember anyone resembling Auntie Lena and the baby. It was a preposterous question from a ridiculous-looking girl.

People in the platform area were making good-byes and hundreds circulated around kiosks and shops selling cigarettes, CDs and slices of pizza. A thousand more sat in the haze of a waiting room. Some were going to the wilds of Siberia, some all the way to the Pacific and some were just waiting.

But the baby was gone.

© 2010 Titanic Productions

Meet the Author

Martin Cruz Smith’s novels include Gorky Park, Stallion Gate, Polar Star, Stalin’s Ghost, Rose, December 6, and Tatiana. He is a two-time winner of the Hammett Prize, a recipient of Britain’s Golden Dagger Award, and a winner of the Premio Piemonte Giallo Internazionale. He lives in California.

Ron McLarty has appeared on Broadway in That Championship Season, Our Country's Good, and Moonchildren. His film credits include Two Bits, The Postman, and The Flamingo Kid. He has starred on television in Spenser for Hire and Cop Rock. Mr. McLarty is also a novelist and an award-winning playwright.

Brief Biography

San Rafael, California
Date of Birth:
November 3, 1942
Place of Birth:
Reading, Pennsylvania
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1964

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Three Stations (Arkady Renko Series #7) 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 178 reviews.
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
Without a any hyperbole, I can honestly say I love Martin Cruz Smith. His writing style is so different than every other cookie cutter mystery writer out there. His characters all seem reasonable and distinct. I have never been anywhere remotely close to Russia but Smith makes it so easy to see. I feel like I've been there. Renko is classically sarcastic without even trying and a great hero without any reason to be. My only qualm with this novel is that the other Renko novels seemed to spend more time with the red herrings and here there were only a handful of possible killers. I still really enjoyed it!
DaleGPS More than 1 year ago
I have anticipated each new book from Cruz-Smith until now. Unlike some of his other books, this one seems as if it was written purely to capitalize on the author's name. People wander in and out of the story and have no real relation to the plot. They are put there to add pages to the book which is already only about 200 pages long. Then at the end of the book, the author says "times up" and just wraps up the story. There is no evolving to the conclusion. He just writes a terse ending. Save your money and hope Martin Cruz Smith returns to serious writing. His earlier books were well worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yikes. Disjointed characters, unresolved plot lines, abrupt conclusions, random prose... Not what i came to expect from the Renko series.
AH54 More than 1 year ago
It was basically a waste of money to buy this for my Nook. The beginning of the story sets the hook, but then it is as if the author lost interest. At about the same time, the reader does also. Characters wander in, are introduced, and then vanish. For the first time in a Renko novel, the plot seems forced as if the author forgot how to integrate the characters and plot. The book is essentially a ghost of Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square, and Havana Bay. Save your money and re-read the other novels in the series, which are much more complicated and engaging.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Martin Cruz Smith has been writing about Arkady Renko off and on for more than 30 years. The seventh book in the series was a real disappointment to me. If Smith had stuck with the original premise, a teenage mother trying to find her stolen baby, this might have been a gripping book. I envisioned an exploration of rich Americans adopting Russian children for big money. Instead, we go to subplots involving millionaires, serial killers, mob hit men, street urchins, and Renko's corrupt superiors. To top it off, Arkady goes from hapless bozo to being a James Bond superman in the space of a few pages. It's all much too much in a little more than 230 pages.
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