Mysterious Book Report TatianaTatiana by Martin Cruz Smith

Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 292 pages, ISBN 978-1-4391-4021-5

Given the current state of world affairs as regards Russia, Vladimir Putin, the Crimea, Ukraine and the general world condemnation of Mr. P and the country he’s president of in light of the so-called referendum on March the sixteenth as to whether Crimea should become part of Russia or remain part of Ukraine . . . what could be better than a novel featuring the most honest, and beleaguered detective in the Moscow Police Department: Arkady Renko.  He’s been beaten, stabbed, eradicated, sent to gulag in Siberia, and most recently . . . shot in the head, but like an indestructible Timex watch he “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”  He’s the creation of writer Martin Cruz Smith who we first met in the classic bestseller, Gorky Park and Inspector Arkady Renko has only improved with age.

Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith finds police inspector Renko as melancholy and quietly subversive as ever.  He’s survived the old communist Soviet Union but finds the new modern Russia to be just as secretive and brutal, and he’s about to be drawn into one of the most complex, dangerous and baffling mysteries of his career.

Tatiana Petrovna, a fearless and at times foolhardy investigative journalist falls to her death in Moscow during the same week that Grisha Grigorenko, an organized crime billionaire is assassinated and laid to rest with the ceremony and pomp of a crown prince.  Inspector Renko sees a connection between the two deaths and is compelled to solve the mystery of Titan’s supposed suicide, by the dictates of his own conscience after listening to hours of her recorded tapes that detail savage crimes and often contradict the official versions.  Renko follow the trail of clues to Kaliningrad, a cold war secret city in the Baltic Sea, and now the murder capital of the whole country.  The plot centers, twists and doubles back around a mysterious and arcane notebook in Titan’s possession that are the notes of a translator who sat on a secret meeting in Kaliningrad, but unfortunately, as happens all to frequently in the new Russia, the translator himself has been murdered, leaving Arkady Renko in a desperate race to decode the notebook while keeping it from the organized crime killers sent to retrieve it.  Martin Cruz Smith is a master storyteller at the top of his game in Titana.  A great read for all lovers of intrigue, action and crime fiction.


John Dwaine McKenna