Three Stations

Three Stations

Large Print - 2010 | Center Point large print ed
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New York Times bestselling author

Arkady Renko returns in a new novel involving a kidnapped baby with a mysterious teenage mother, a dead prostitute, police corruption, and as always, the cold, dark, impenetrable landscape of modern-day Moscow.

Martin Cruz Smith is known for novels that are peopled with fascinating, flawed and three-dimensional characters. Arkady Renko himself has plenty of his own problems. His prosecutor keeps him bored to death, and he's struggling with the onset of middle age. His longtime partner and friend Victor Orlov returns as well, beginning with an arrest for public drunkenness. And the mysterious 15-year-old chess prodigy, Zhenya, whom Arkady shelters and attempts to parent, has a larger-than-usual role to play in Three Stations.

Publisher: Thorndike, Me. : Center Point Pub., 2010
Edition: Center Point large print ed
ISBN: 9781602858688
1602858683
Branch Call Number: x Large Print Coll
Characteristics: 319 p. ; 23 cm

Opinion

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j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

(Reserve Smith's new book "Girl From Venice" now!)
Read this years ago and saw the comments here and decide to reread it. I liked it more second time around. Agree with AlmadenAFS that it was a thoughtful and vivid story on the corrupted Putin state in Moscow as Renko investigated an alleged suicide and Zhenya fell hard for a beautiful troubled runaway. To Iwarman, there was one more "underpants" reference and for good reasons that was revealed towards the end: Her leather trousers and underpants were pulled down to her ankles.

a
aceperry
Sep 30, 2016

I'm a little disappointed with this book. The Renko series of books has been my favorite, but this book feels unfinished. There are some great scenes and ideas going on, but the ending was not done well. I hope the next one is better.

a
AlmadenAFS
Sep 11, 2016

Short book, good read. Smith makes you stop and think back.

f
Firebrace
Oct 14, 2012

Without exaggeration, I think Arkady Renko is one of the great characters, certainly one of the great detectives (sorry, 'inspector') in literature. I'm never disappointed with a Renko book. The character just becomes more and more interesting, but I do understand the comments made on Sep. 6, Jul 19 and Jul 4. I'd very much like to know from Pisinga what the untruths about Russians are? Seriously. I'm not Russian, don't know any Russians, and have never been there; but these books have always seemed so truthful and accurate to me: I feel 'Russia MUST be like this. Russians must be as he describes them.' Where has Martin Cruz Smith gone wrong?

p
pronto1961
Sep 05, 2012

this story could have been so much more. I truly like this series and I love the stoic tragedy that is Renko but I wish that Smith had set aside his tired formula, fleshed out his plotline a bit and just given us a good meaty read. instead, it read like an outline, rushed and incomplete to meet a deadline.

p
Pisinga
Jul 19, 2011

Renko is great. But a lot of untruths about Russians.

j
jquickmsw
Jul 04, 2011

Renko is Renko, and we love him, so two stars; but otherwise, a pitiful shadow of Smith's earlier achievements. A "slight" book in every way -- size, character development, plot, denouement.

b
Buff_K
May 12, 2011

Agreed, not his best work. Good enough read however, but check out his other titles!

l
lwarman
Aug 28, 2010

This is easily the weakest of the otherwise fine series of Arkady Renko novels. Not only does it have a unrealistic plot worthy of Agatha Christie at her most florid, but it lacks the acute descriptions and compelling characterizations of the earlier novels. This is exacerbated by what appears to be a total lack of editing. For example, the first murder scene is described on page 13 as follows:

"A half-empty litre of vodka stood on the floor next to a denim skirt, underpants, and shiny high-heeled boots"

On page 34 Renko comments:
"Her underpants were taken and she was left on display".

The autopsy report on page 47 states:
"Underpants were retrieved from an upper bunk in the trailer."

What I found most distressing was the character of Arkady Renko himself. Once an endearing mix of cynicism and stubborn idealism, now he merely sounds tired. Perhaps it is time he retired.

Quotes

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j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

“Life is unfair. Why should death be any different?”
===
It was not easy to be arrested for drunkenness. It was difficult to distinguish drunkenness from, say, sharing a bottle with friends, jolly times, sad times, saint’s day, women’s day, the urge to nap, the need to hold up a wall, the need to piss on the wall.
===
The thing is, Russians are perfectionists. That’s our curse. It makes for great chess players and ballerinas and turns the rest of us into jealous inebriates. The question is not why don’t I drink less, it’s why don’t you drink more?”
===
Passengers pushed their way like badly organized armies through street vendors selling flowers, embroidered shirts, shirts with Putin, shirts with Che, CDs, DVDs, fur hats, posters, nesting dolls, war medals and Soviet kitsch.
===
Most of the passengers were as nondescript as boiled cabbage.

j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

The thing is, Russians are perfectionists. That’s our curse. It makes for great chess players and ballerinas and turns the rest of us into jealous inebriates. The question is not why don’t I drink less, it’s why don’t you drink more?”
===
At Three Stations the crippled, outcast and usually hidden members of society gathered like the Court of Miracles only without the miracles.
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Workers’ trailers provided basic on-site accommodations: four bunk beds and a stove, but no toilet, shower or a/c. They baked in the summer and froze in the winter and from the outside the only concessions to human habitation was a sliding window and a door.
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Russians were the actors, Tajiks the necessary but unseen stagehands who did the work too miserable or too dangerous for any local boy to consider.
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Hash and heroin flowed through Three Stations and relations between the militia and railway police was a truce between thieves.

j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

“A cocktail of clonidine and vodka would drop Rambo in his tracks.” Victor warmed to the thought. “Rambo would wake up with no money, no clothes, no bow and arrow, … “
===
There are so many Russian prostitutes in Italy that the new word for whore there is ‘Natasha.
===
“A bottle of vodka used to cost ten rubles, just the right sum for three people to share. Not too much, not too little. That was how you met people and made friends. Now they have money they got selfish. Nobody shares. It’s torn apart the fabric of society.”
===
“The last time I saw Victor Orlov he couldn’t piss straight enough to hit a barn.” “His aim has improved.”
===
He was drunk and out of shape and he ran in slow motion, arms flailing like a marathoner down to his last gasp.

j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

Some men could saunter into a morgue and browse autopsy tables like a garden show. Arkady had never attained such sangfroid. After twenty years as an investigator he was still as embarrassed by an eviscerated body as if he had caught someone undressed.
===
The fxcking world is falling apart. See how many Tajiks are in Moscow now? Just wait ten years. There’ll be a mosque on every corner. Heads cut off, all kinds of stuff.
===
“I’ve survived two massive heart attacks. I have angina. Blood pressure that could lift a manhole cover. I could keel over from blowing my nose. So I do not rush.”
===
Arkady felt like Quasimodo pawing a sleeping Venus. When the external part of the examination was over, they broke for a cigarette. Fumo ergo sum, Arkady thought.
===
No one just dies, Arkady thought. You can be killed by a bullet or a skip in your heartbeat or a vine that starts winding around you on the day you are born, but no one just dies.

j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

Five to forty thousand lived on the streets of Moscow; there was no accurate count, he said. Most of them were runaways, boys and girls as young as five who preferred life on the street to a household ruined by alcohol, brutality and abuse. Freezing to death in the wintertime. Squatting in abandoned buildings and surviving on petty theft and restaurant scraps.
===
Well, you can always be my personal assistant.” “Doing what?” “In case I drop and anyone tries to resuscitate me, shoot him.”
===
She was one of those women who seemed to have been bronzed at her peak, forty going on thirty, in dark glasses and shadowy silk.
===
Apartment 2C. Volchek and Primakov, bear-size Siberians with furtive eyes. Both loggers, thirty-five years of age, in rooms so cold the air conditioner shivered.
===
As Victor liked to say, “That’s the problem with interrogations, so many lies, so little time.”

j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

“Do you ever lose?” “Sure. You have to let your opponent win at the start to raise the stakes. It’s not about winning the game; it’s about taking their money. That’s the game inside the game.”
===
“We are in Russia?” Arkady asked. “Yes.” “In Moscow?” “Yes, of course.” “And the Lada is a Russian car?” “One Lada can reduce the value of an entire city block.”
===
It was an acquired taste like the Masai’s mixture of blood and milk.
===
Bugatti. One thousand horsepower. Of course, at top speed, you run out of gas in twelve minutes and in fifteen minutes the tires catch fire.
===
She studied him in turn. “You don’t care much for high fashion, do you?” “I don’t know enough about fashion to have an opinion. That’s like asking a dog about flying.”
===
As a proud Finn, he upheld his country’s prejudices: Russians were incompetent drunks while Finns were competent drunks.

j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

With so many mirrors reflecting each other, he seemed to share the room with multiple desperate men with lank hair and eyes deep as drains, the sort of figure who might wander the streets on a rainy night and cause people to roll up their car windows and jump the traffic light.
===
“You’re still in character.” “Always. The same as you. You are a policeman, aren’t you?” “How did you guess?” “You’ve got that ‘doormat of the world’ look.”
===
“…Who would want to do business in a land where rich men are poisoned or put in cages and shipped to Siberia? We thought we were the darlings of the Kremlin. Now we’re all on a little list.” “Who is on the list?” Arkady was curious. “Us, the so-called oligarchs. We were the idiots who put this lizard in power. Our lizard turned out to be Tyrannosaurus rex. …”
===
Talking to Anya was like skydiving, Arkady thought. You were at terminal velocity before you knew it.

j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

A yoga instructor, she had been married twice, once to an American who had promised her Malibu, California, and delivered Columbus, Ohio.
===
At heart she knew that the long term did not apply to her. All she had were day-to-day survival skills but she had no complaints. School, office, a comfortable old age held no appeal for her. In many ways her life was perfect.
===
“Peter the Great had a museum of freaks, children with horns and hooves, the half formed and deformed. He sent out a decree that all such monsters in Russia be brought to him. It was called the ‘Monster Decree.’ It’s happening again, only this time money rules. Monsters are gathering in Moscow. Whores, millionaires, like dung beetles rolling dollar bills.
===
He should feel good, Arkady thought, like Napoleon returning from Elba.
===
“… We have to drive home the idea that there’s nothing more prestigious than losing money on your own string of Thoroughbred horses.”

j
jimg2000
Oct 08, 2016

The way people talked about luck, it sounded to Emma like a spoonful of water in the desert. There just wasn’t enough to go around.
===
He grew to hate the long conversations on the train, the forced bonhomie. His face hurt from grinning.
===
Someone was playing it now, despite the fact that the piano had not been tuned in years. Unexpected sharps and flats abounded, and some keys were totally dead. In short, Arkady thought, Russia set to music.
===
Some men chase butterflies; others let butterflies come to them.
===
He watched Emma’s tentative progress around a clown with a red nose, blowing bubbles. Past an acrobat on stilts, who took slow-motion strides. Past children of seesaw age queuing at a miniature roller coaster and past older kids tossing quoits. And through a maze of strollers, to the moment when Maya looked up and light leapt into her eyes.

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