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Stalin's Ghost Hardcover – Unabridged, 6 Jul 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; First Edition edition (6 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405090499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405090490
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 645,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Excellently written and peopled by memorably strange
characters...a dazzling panoramic portrait of Russia today.' -- John Dugdale, Sunday Times

'Renko is as compelling as ever.' -- Daily Mirror

'Rounded characters and powerful images are hallmark of this fine
writer.' -- Choice

'Stalin's Ghost is a visceral vision of modern Russia in all its
splendour and squalor.' -- Daily Express

About the Author

Martin Cruz Smith’s novels include Gorky Park, Stallion Gate, Polar Star, Red Square, Rose and Havana Bay. A recipient of the CWA Gold Dagger for fiction in the UK, he is also two-time winner of the Hammett Prize in the United States. He lives in northern California.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 2 May 2008
Format: Paperback
This is part of Martin Cruz Smith's long-running series set in contemporary Russia, featuring the akward, obstinate and brilliant detective Arkady Renko. In fact, the real star of these novels is Russia itself, as the twisting plotline is set against the backdrop of the post-Soviet state with all of its strange developments, political, sociological and criminal.

If you haven't read any of the earlier books in the series then the main plot won't be a problem, but much of the subtle backdrop will be lost on you, because you need to have developed a relationship with Renko, and an understanding of his personal situation, to feel the impact of events in this book.
Still, you don't need an in-depth knowledge of the characters to enjoy Cruz Smith's brilliant portrayal of the Russian winter, nor to understand the melancholic and nostalgic longing for Soviet-era order or how a military hero in Chechenya might rise to the top of a nationalistic political party.
There's also a good mystery to unravel. Why did travellers start seeing Stalin's ghost at an underground railway station? (And, of course, the deeper meaning of the title: how much of Russia is still dominated by Stalin's shadow?)

This isn't a page-turning, rip-snorting action thriller. Very often the most shocking moments come in mundane situations, when you least expect them. So it's best to pace the reading a little, enjoy the concise, well-crafted text, and let the Russian ambience surround you for a while so you get the most from the clever revelations as they jump out and grab you.
Thoroughly recommended for lovers of thoughtful political thrillers.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kasablanka on 1 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read all the Arkady Renko novels, I bought this as soon as it was available in the UK. I read it far too quickly and have now got wait a year or two I guess, for the next one !

'Gorky Park' is my favourite of the series so far and probably always will be for it's sheer originality.

This one and it's predecessor, 'Wolves Eats Dogs' are more social commentaries on Russia as much as thrillers, which makes them interesting, but perhaps just that little less thrilling. However, as soon it as became clear who the main villains were, it really kicked off for me. They are two ex-black berets who fought in Chechnya and returned as heroes. But, they have a secret to hide, and kill for. They are now cops, working alongside Renko. One of them, the charismatic Isakov, is a candidate of an ultra-nationalist party that is cynically using the memory of Stalin to gain popularity. Isakov's side kick, Urman, is the usual type of thug that the author puts into his stories :
To Renko: "You never let up", Urman said.
"It's an innocent question. Anyway, you're going to kill me as soon as you get the nod"...

There are few other bad or sleazy guys, among them, two American political consultants. As usual the chief prosecutor is not a big fan of Renko.

As for Renko's friends and allies, there is his alcoholic partner, Victor; and the bad tempered Chess Grand Master, Platonov, who looks over Zhenya, the child chess prodigy. Zhenya prefers to play for money to the annoyance of Platanov.

As in 'Gorky Park' and 'Red Square' there is a love triangle, this time, between Renko; his girlfriend, Eva and Isakov.

There is an interesting development late in the book involving the finding of large numbers of dead soldiers, murdered during WWII.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Watson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 April 2008
Format: Paperback
This latest Renko novel is similar to Renko's Ural Cossack motorbike: it starts off slowly but gets you wherever you wish to go! When you read a Renko story you finish up knowling a lot about Russia which you didn't know you wanted to know.

I really enjoyed this book but then, I'm a Renko fan. After the rather ponderous 'Wolves Eat Dogs' this is Arkady at his best. Which, of course, means that his dogged determination to solve a series of murders, initially disconnected, leads him into pain and anguish both physical and emotional.

His relationship with Eva is not going well, his relationship with Moscow is not going well; indeed, the poor man has lost his sort of adopted son as well.

But, Renko being Renko and Martin Cruz Smith being the high class author he is, the story gathers speed and the reader has to reach the last page to determine how Renko's life will go on - if it will!

MCS is one of the few authors whose books demand that you read every page for fear of missing some crucial information. Or, at worst, picking up some item about Russian domestic history which escaped you before.

If you are an Arkady Renko fan, you won't be disappointed. If you're not, I hope that you will become one after reading this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By johnverp on 28 July 2008
Format: Paperback
I like Martin Cruz Smith's writing and I have enjoyed prior novels with Senior Investigator Arkady Renko as the lead character.

In common with the prequels, the book is instructive on life in Russia and contains some rich observations. I liked lines like "as he was leaving Moscow and driving into Russia.....".

The plot is not all that deep but takes Renko to Tver and very nearly sees him killed. I found the book to be populated with strange scenarios, relationships and interactions as Renko tries to solve a couple of mysteries. The relevance of a couple of Americans who played bit parts still escapes me and the Stalin's Ghost angle in the metro seems to have done more for others than it did for me.

Here too, Renko struggles with his own demons and his relationships with his adopted son and partner. To get the most out of this book, I suspect a reader would need to have built a strong relationship with Renko from prior novels.

For whatever reason, I judged this book first as crime novel and I didn't feel it was as strong as other Cruz Smith books I have read. 7/10
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