Monday, January 31, 2005
Wolves Eat Dogs - Martin Cruz Smith
Cynical, melancholy Moscow special investigator Arkardy Renko has a serious problem. One of Moscow's newly minted billionaires has taken a fatal plunge off of a twenty-story condominium - suicide or murder? As Renko dryly observes "We prefer suicides. Suicides don't demand work, or drive up the crime rate."
In his fifth book featuring his laconic, down-trodden detective, Martin Cruz Smith is at the top of his game. Wolves Eat Dogs takes Renko, filling his role as Moscow's most dogged and quixotic gumshoe, from the heady environs of the new Russian elite down a twisted, wayward path into a deadly quietly radioactive heart of darkness, the 30-mile Exclusion Zone surrounding Chernobyl.
Tautly written, intriguing and quite frankly offering a more humane glimpse of the Russian pysche then western fiction typically offers, Wolves Eat Dogs is a terrific and unique mystery, with Renko, as ever, leading the reader deeper and deeper into uncharted territory - in this case, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, with its eerie abandoned towns, burgeoning wildlife, icon-thieves, corrupt car parts dealers and obsessive scientests. Smith weaves an involving and immersive mystery with first-rate characters and plotting, in a very unique setting. I highly recommend it!
I would also recommend a look at Renko's earlier adventures - Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square, and Havana Bay.
Find out more about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster at Chernobyl Info, Chernobyl: A Nuclear Disaster and the Chernobyl Children's Project International. For a more detailed look at the overall health impact of the disaster ten years after, visit the Nuclear Energy Agency's Chernobyl Assessment page.
Why not take a visit to the Exclusion Zone? Follow along with Elena's motorcycle run through the Zone at Kiddofspeed - Ghost Town. Here are some more photos to check out.
Interestingly enough, due to a dearth of human presence, the Exclusion Zone is rapidly becoming a natural haven for Ukrainian wildlife.
Thinking of playing tourist? Better read this first.
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