I first read this superb book at the tender age of 19 shortly after visiting the (then) USSR and strolling round Gorky park in the snow. I'd seen the film of course and half expected the film to follow it closely but I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film but the book was something else. More twists, more plot, more gruesome and, perhaps most importantly, more Russian.
Times change and the USSR came to an end. Cold War thrillers disappeared from the book shelves and were replaced by an endless cavalcade of serial killer stories and so on. But Gorky Park still gnawed away at me and I read it again. What a great decision!
The book is still as fresh as it was when it first took the literary world by storm with the discovery of the three bodies in the snow still shocking, Comrade Major Pribluda still more than a bit like Dracula, the elusive Irina Asanova still as alluring and the sardonic and world-weary Arkady Renko still the best post-war literary detective.
Whether reading this novel for the first time or reading it again after a long break this book is still a belting yarn. It has thrilling set pieces, careful plot development and has an indefinable Russian melancholy about it. Perhaps that is Martin Cruz Smith's finest achievement, this book feels more authentically Soviet with real Russian people living through real Soviet times, rather than the 2D stereotypes we got used to in so many other novels of the same period.