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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a welcome return to form
Arkady Renko returns for his fifth outing and, thank the lord, it's a better effort than Havana Bay. Personally I didn't think Renko worked as a character outside Russia, his anti-hero status just didn't add up in Cuba.
This however is class. Renko tracks the murderer of a wealthy 'new russian' businessman from Moscow's plush apartments to the radioactive villages of...
Published on 11 Oct. 2005

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good on Chernobyl but Weak as a Thriller
After enjoying the two middle books in the Arkady Renko series (Gorky Park, Polar Star, Havana Bay, and Red Square) I picked up this fifth one with pretty high hopes. The story begins in roughly contemporary times with Renko still hanging on as Senior Investigator in Moscow. When a Russian bazillionaire industrialist takes a swan dive off the 10th-floor balcony of his...
Published on 26 Jun. 2006 by A. Ross


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a welcome return to form, 11 Oct. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Wolves Eat Dogs (Paperback)
Arkady Renko returns for his fifth outing and, thank the lord, it's a better effort than Havana Bay. Personally I didn't think Renko worked as a character outside Russia, his anti-hero status just didn't add up in Cuba.
This however is class. Renko tracks the murderer of a wealthy 'new russian' businessman from Moscow's plush apartments to the radioactive villages of Chernobyl. The usual outstanding narrative from Martin Cruz Smith, plenty of dark humour and an interesting examination of the 'new russian' phenomenom. Can't recommend this book highly enough.
Welcome back Renko.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good on Chernobyl but Weak as a Thriller, 26 Jun. 2006
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Wolves Eat Dogs (Paperback)
After enjoying the two middle books in the Arkady Renko series (Gorky Park, Polar Star, Havana Bay, and Red Square) I picked up this fifth one with pretty high hopes. The story begins in roughly contemporary times with Renko still hanging on as Senior Investigator in Moscow. When a Russian bazillionaire industrialist takes a swan dive off the 10th-floor balcony of his locked ultrasecure apartment, Renko is called in to rubber stamp the apparent suicide. When the tycoon's friends and business associates all confirm the man's recent depression, and the security cameras show no intruders. However, Renko wants to know what caused the depression, and more interestingly, why one of the apartment closets is full of salt. True to form, Renko stubbornly pursues these lines of inquiry to the frustration and anger of his superiors and the chief of security for the bazillionaire's company. Soon thereafter, the bazillionaire's longtime friend and partner turns up dead in the 30-kilometer "zone of exclusion " which surrounds the Chernobyl nuclear accident site in northern Ukraine.

This provides Renko's superiors with a perfect excuse to exile him from Moscow for a while and punish him by stationing him in the highly radioactive environs of Chernobyl. This is where the book really works -- as a travelogue of Chernobyl some 15-20 years after the accident. Cruz Smith took several trips to the area to learn about the "black villages" and the lives of those who live in the contaminated area. This comes alive in his portrayal of the corrupt militia, the massive chop shop selling radioactive car parts, the underfunded researchers who risk radiation to try and understand the effects of the accident, the poachers who kill radioactive wild boar to sell to Moscow's 5-star restaurants, the old people who snuck back into their evacuated villages to live out their years, and more. He also tells of the chain of incredibly foolish mistakes that led to the disaster, as well as the inept Soviet response to it (including building a town for evacuees on a radioactive site). Eventually, of course, the story of the dead bazillionaire dovetails with Chernobyl, but frankly, it can't compete dramatically with the tragic story of the people in the zone which Cruz Smith tells so well.

As a thriller or crime novel, this installment never really works. The story is too cloudy, the characters too disparate and undeveloped, and the ultimate "answer" comes long after the reader has ceased to care. Renko doesn't evolve at all, he's the same stubborn, fatalistic cop who takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. Of course, as in the other books, he does manage to find a woman to share his life with. There's also a running subplot involving a mute Moscow orphan who has somehow entered Renko's life. His numerous appearances never seem to add up to anything other than a possible set-up for a future book. On the whole, fascinating stuff about Chernobyl, but that's about it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 April 1986: It was 20 years ago today: Chernobyl, 26 April 2006
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Wolves Eat Dogs (Paperback)
On April 26th, 1986 the number 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded after a planned test shutdown went seriously wrong. The subsequent release of radioactive material (cesium and strontium) is estimated to have reached levels exceeding 40 times the amount of radioactivity released by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The short and long term effects of this explosion, particularly on the Republics of Belarus and Ukraine has been devastating. For example, the phrase "Chernobyl Necklace" refers to the ubiquitous ear-to-ear scar worn by Byelorussians and Ukrainians that have had thyroid cancer surgery. The thyroid cancer rate is estimated to be up to 2000 times greater in Belarus than in the general world population. Smith's eye for details makes note of these scars. The Chernobyl disaster has special resonance for me as I have spent five years involved with a Children of Chernobyl program that brings children from Belarus to the United States for six week health and respite visits. The dark world that Martin Cruz Smith portrays in Wolves Eat Dogs tracks remarkably well with accounts I have heard from Byelorussians and Ukrainians about life after Chernobyl. Smith made numerous trips to the exclusion zone and his investment in time and first-hand research bears fruit. It is into that dark world that fate and police work brings Inspector Arkday Renko.

I have read and enjoyed Smith's previous Renko novels. Renko's erratic career path as a police inspector has seen him survive, barely, the apparatchiks of the Soviet regime (Gorky Park). He has survived its imminent demise (Polar Star) and the emergence of bloody cowboy capitalism (Red Square). Now, in Wolves Eat Dogs, Renko must operate in a Russia dominated by an elite group of billionaire oligarchs.

The primary setting of Wolves Eats Dogs is the 30-kilometer evacuation (or exclusion) zone in the northern Ukraine, just south of Ukraine's border with Belarus, surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A billionaire oligarch, Pasha Ivanov, is found dead outside his high-rise Moscow flat. All evidence leads to the conclusion that Ivanov has taken his own life by jumping from his penthouse apartment. Renko is not so sure and decides to conduct his investigation despite the clear displeasure this evinces up and down the police ladder and amongst the surviving owners of Ivanov's company. In this, Renko's stubborn, principled independence has not changed at all since he first came to view in Gorky Park. When a second related death occurs in the 30-kilometer exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl, Renko's superiors are pleased to pack him off to investigate the death in the Ukraine. The majority of the action takes place in the exclusion zone. Renko plods on despite himself and despite attempts by virtually everyone to leave things alone.

It is impossible to say more without revealing too much of the plot. However, it seems to be that in Wolves Eat Dogs we have seen Martin Cruz Smith at his finest. Smith does not devote any time to fleshing out the personal side of Renko. However, the similarity between the inner-life of Renko and the stark, despairing, world of the exclusion zone is unmistakable. It is at once a moving and tragic reflection of the life lived by Arkady Renko. Smith's portrayal of Renko, life in the exclusion zone, and his development of the plot from start to finish is first rate. This is a book worth reading.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arkady Renko's Journey to Chernobyl's Heart of Darkness, 30 Nov. 2004
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I have read and enjoyed Smith's previous Renko novels. Renko's erratic career path as a police inspector has seen him survive, barely, the apparatchiks of the Soviet regime (Gorky Park). He has survived its imminent demise (Polar Star) and the emergence of bloody cowboy capitalism (Red Square). Now, in Wolves Eat Dogs, Renko must operate in a Russia dominated by an elite group of billionaire oligarchs.
The primary setting of Wolves Eats Dogs is the 30-kilometer evacuation (or exclusion) zone in the northern Ukraine, just south of Ukraine's border with Belarus, surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On April 26th, 1986 the number 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded after a planned test shutdown went seriously wrong. The subsequent release of radioactive material (including massive amounts of cesium and strontium) is estimated to have reached levels exceeding 40 times the amount of radioactivity released by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The short and long term effects of this explosion, particularly on the Republics of Belarus and Ukraine has been devastating. For example, the phrase "Chernobyl Necklace" refers to the ubiquitous ear-to-ear scar worn by Byelorussians and Ukrainians that have had thyroid cancer surgery. The thyroid cancer rate is estimated to be up to 2000 times greater in Belarus than in the general world population. Smith's eye for details makes note of these scars. The Chernobyl disaster has special resonance for me as I have spent five years involved with a Children of Chernobyl program that brings children from Belarus to the United States for six week health and respite visits. The dark world that Martin Cruz Smith portrays in Wolves Eat Dogs tracks remarkably well with accounts I have heard from Byelorussians and Ukrainians about life after Chernobyl. Smith made numerous trips to the exclusion zone and his investment in time and first-hand research bears fruit. It is into that dark world that fate and police work brings Inspector Arkday Renko.
A billionaire oligarch, Pasha Ivanov, is found dead outside his high-rise Moscow flat. All evidence leads to the conclusion that Ivanov has taken his own life by jumping from his penthouse apartment. Renko is not so sure and decides to conduct his investigation despite the clear displeasure this evinces up and down the police ladder and amongst the surviving owners of Ivanov's company. In this, Renko's stubborn, principled independence has not changed at all since he first came to view in Gorky Park. When a second related death occurs in the 30-kilometer exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl, Renko's superiors are pleased to pack him off to investigate the death in the Ukraine. The majority of the action takes place in the exclusion zone. Renko plods on despite himself and despite attempts by virtually everyone to leave things alone.
It is impossible to say more about without revealing too much of the plot. However, it seems to be that in Wolves Eat Dogs we have seen Martin Cruz Smith at his finest. Smith does not devote any time to fleshing out the personal side of Renko. However, the similarity between the inner-life of Renko and the stark, despairing, world of the exclusion zone is unmistakable. It is at once a moving and tragic reflection of the life lived by Arkady Renko. Smith's portrayal of Renko, life in the exclusion zone, and his development of the plot from start to finish is first rate. This is a book worth reading.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Penetrating Look at the Links between Old and New Russia, 15 Jun. 2005
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wolves Eat Dogs (Hardcover)
Martin Cruz Smith's work continues to transcend the mystery genre into social commentary on the state of Russia and the Ukraine in this unusual and unexpected story about politics, nuclear science and the rise of the new Russian capitalists. As usual, our "neutral" observer is investigator Arkady Renko who continues on his lonely path seeking truth while others prefer lies.
As the book opens, a billionaire, Pasha Ivanov, is found dead at the base of his condo's building. Did he jump . . . or was he pushed? Those are the main choices for Arkady . . . until he's ordered off the case.
But Arkady's not satisfied that it's a suicide. Why was Ivanov's closet full of salt?
Winning a reprieve for his investigation from an unexpected source, Arkady finds himself in the middle of the "dead" zone near the site of the Chernobyl (spelled as Chornobyl by those in the Ukraine) disaster. You'll feel like your visiting a world imagined by Dante as you follow his slow "investigation."
The resolution of the story's plot will leave you shaking your head a bit . . . but you will find the trip to be an intriguing one that's well worth your time.
I was especially fascinated by the psychology described for those who lived through the aftermath of the nuclear disaster and continue to live in the vicinity. It's gritty material that will remind you of stories you've read about surviving in tough prisons and concentration camps. The story will unforgettably drive home the message that we'd better take care of the environment.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome return, 3 Dec. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Wolves Eat Dogs (Paperback)
This Arkady Renko novel is less typical of the previous ones in that the opening murder is less gruesome and the plot is maybe a little less preposterous. The trademarks of Martin Cruz Smith are all there in abundance; expert characterisation, tack-sharp dialogue and superb honed prose style.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cruz transcends the genre, 24 Mar. 2006
By 
T. Burkard (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wolves Eat Dogs (Paperback)
Wolves Eat Dogs is considerably shorter than most of Cruz's works, but it is one of the finest. In the 'Zone' of contaminated land around Chernobyl he portrays a world which echos back not only to the Soviet era, but to something much more primitive. But the novel's primary theme is redemption, and Cruz is--in my opinion--one of the best living writers. His works will be read long after today's literary lions have been forgotten. To pigeonhole him as a thriller-writer is as silly as dismissing Tolstoy as a writer of historical romances.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Baba Yaga Has A Long Blue Nose, 23 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Wolves Eat Dogs (Paperback)
Martin Cruz Smith is a former journalist and magazine editor. "Wolves Eat Dogs" 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Penetrating Look at the Links between Old and New Russia, 15 Jun. 2005
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Martin Cruz Smith's work continues to transcend the mystery genre into social commentary on the state of Russia and the Ukraine in this unusual and unexpected story about politics, nuclear science and the rise of the new Russian capitalists. As usual, our "neutral" observer is investigator Arkady Renko who continues on his lonely path seeking truth while others prefer lies.
As the book opens, a billionaire, Pasha Ivanov, is found dead at the base of his condo's building. Did he jump . . . or was he pushed? Those are the main choices for Arkady . . . until he's ordered off the case.
But Arkady's not satisfied that it's a suicide. Why was Ivanov's closet full of salt?
Winning a reprieve for his investigation from an unexpected source, Arkady finds himself in the middle of the "dead" zone near the site of the Chernobyl (spelled as Chornobyl by those in the Ukraine) disaster. You'll feel like your visiting a world imagined by Dante as you follow his slow "investigation."
The resolution of the story's plot will leave you shaking your head a bit . . . but you will find the trip to be an intriguing one that's well worth your time.
I was especially fascinated by the psychology described for those who lived through the aftermath of the nuclear disaster and continue to live in the vicinity. It's gritty material that will remind you of stories you've read about surviving in tough prisons and concentration camps. The story will unforgettably drive home the message that we'd better take care of the environment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Renko's as pleasing as ever, 7 Dec. 2007
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wolves Eat Dogs (Paperback)
This is not MCS's best book and it's certainly not Arkady Renko's finest hour but it is an enthralling storyline and an unforgettable picture of a dying (if not dead) Chernobyl.

I can only imagine - from Mr. Smith's descriptive powers - what it must be like to live and die prematurely and in great pain when scratching an existence in and around this radioactive setting.

The story itself seems to take second place in this narrative. It is most certainly the people and the environs that Renko comes across as he searches for the killer or killers of some less than courageous Mucovite industrialists. That he solves most of the problems is a tribute to his dogged investigations coupled with at least some luck in meeting people who are prepared to assist.

Renko is ageing (aren't we all?) and Mr. Smith manages to place Renko in situations where he suffers physically when he would not have done so in the earlier books.

I like this book. If this was the first Martin Cruz Smith novel I'd come across, I'd admire the writing; I'd be confused about the plot but I would have finished the book with a satisfaction not reserved for all thriller writers. I look forward to next Renko novel shortly.
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Wolves Eat Dogs
Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Smith (Paperback - 7 Oct. 2005)
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