Sunday Salon: Russian about

Oh dear Lord, has it come to this? A title whose pun­nish cre­den­tials might see it employed by Jasper Fforde? Too late to cor­rect it, though! For, my friends, this is noth­ing less than a Sunday Saloon post, and is meant to be pro­duced on the hoof, off the cuff and reek­ing of first drafti­ness. The Salon is about (or so it seems to me) things what one is read­ing. Today, then, I have been mostly read­ing Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith. It fea­tures a Russian mili­tia detect­ive call Arkady Renko and we fol­low him around Moscow as he attempts to solve the riddle of three bod­ies — shot, mutil­ated — dumped in Gorky Park. I’m about 25% of the way through and I’m actu­ally staggered by the qual­ity of the writ­ing. This guy can write. I keep com­ing across fant­ast­ic snip­pets of prose, after which I tell myself: OK, he’s hit the high water mark with that one — it’ll be down­hill from here. And then Smith tops it. All the while, the story is incred­ibly grip­ping. If I was on a beach, I’d burn through this is in a day. But I’m not; I’m at home mark­ing essays, so I’ll have to restrict myself to smal­ler doses. …And, yes, I feel that there’s no point try­ing to write a beau­ti­ful thrill­er. Smith — the git — has done it. And since it was pub­lished almost thirty years ago, he seemed to achieve this height without Wikipedia. What gives?

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

8 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Russian about”

  1. I bumped into him a couple of times at a sci­ence fic­tion con­ven­tion some years back, and he seemed like a lovely fella, but I’m afraid I just can’t get on with his books. Don’t like them one little bit.

  2. Have only ever seen the film of ‘Gorky Park’ and nev­er giv­en the book a thought. If the writing’s that good I must see if I can get hold of a copy.

  3. I read the first J. Fforde and quite liked it, but not enough to want to read any more- — bit of a one-note piece in my opin­ion, once you had admired the clev­er idea, there wasn’t much more in it for me.

    I am glad you are enjoy­ing Gorky Park — I read it years ago and liked it. Enough, in fact, to read the next two in the series, which are noth­ing like as good (though I remem­ber Polar Star which was not all that bad — the third, for­get it). MCS has just writ­ten anoth­er Arkady book — which the review­ers seem to think is a return to form. Trouble is, it is such ages ago that I read the earli­er volumes that I can’t remem­ber them suf­fi­ciently dis­tinctly. I’d there­fore prob­ably have to go back and read them again before embark­ing on the latest, sigh.
    Oh well, nice review, Ian, so glad you are in the Sunday Salon chapter of the Debrblogosphere — she will be run­ning the whole inter­net before long and it will be a bet­ter place for it.

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