Saturday 21 April 2018

Review: Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith

Mantle, €14.99, Paperback

To tourists it is Komosol Square, but to the citizens of Moscow it is known as Three Stations because of the railway terminals gathered there. By day it is busy with commuters, by night it is filled with hustlers and vagabonds, prostitutes and layabouts and a small army of drunks.

Among the motley crew is Maya, a 15-year-old sex worker who has fled her captors and is desperately searching for her three-week-old baby stolen from her on a Moscow-bound train while she slept. Also there is Inspector Arkady Renko, the disillusioned Moscow policeman who is teetering on the brink of resignation so sickened is he by the corruption of his superiors.

He and his alcoholic detective friend Victor Orlov have a strange new case on their hands. A prostitute has been found dead in a trailer in Three Stations, her unmarked body arranged in one of the classic ballet positions.

The local police want her death put down as an overdose, but the dogged Renko has proof she has been murdered and that she had links with the extravagant Club Nijinsky. Maya's search for her child and Renko's pursuit of a serial killer intersect when two ruthless professional killers sent to kill Maya and take her baby back target them. This seventh Arkady Renko tale is every bit as intriguing and breathlessly exciting as the rest, and delivers an uncomfortably unblinkered dissection of the dark and violent underbelly of Russian life today.

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