Martin Cruz Smith

Martin Cruz Smith

Born Martin William Smith in Reading, Pennsylvania, he was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and received a Bachelor of Artsdegree in creative writing in 1964. He is of partly Pueblo, Spanish, Senecu del Sur and Yaqui ancestry.

From 1965 to 1969 he worked as a journalist and began writing fiction in the early 1970s. His first mystery, Canto for a Gypsy (1973) — featuring Roman Grey, a gypsy art dealer inNew York City, New York — was nominated for an Edgar Award.

Nightwing (1977), also an Edgar nominee, was his breakthrough novel, and he adapted it for a feature film of the same name (1979).

Smith is best known for his novels featuring Russian investigator Arkady Renko whom Smith introduced in Gorky Park (1981). The novel became a bestseller and won a Gold Dagger Award from the British Crime Writers' Association. Renko has since appeared in six other novels by Smith. Gorky Park debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list on April 26, 1981 and hung onto the top spot for another week. It stayed in the number two position for over three months, beaten only by James Clavell's Noble House. It stayed in the top 15 through November of that year. Polar Star also claimed the number one spot for two weeks on August 6, 1989. It subsequently held the number two spot for over two months.

During the 1990s, Smith twice won the Dashiell Hammett Award from the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers. The first time was for Rose in 1996; the second time was for Havana Bay in 1999. And on September 5, 2010, he and Arkady Renko returned to the top of the New York Times bestseller list when Three Stations debuted at number seven on the fiction bestsellers list.

In the 1970s, Smith wrote two Slocum adult action Western novels under the pen name Jake Logan. Smith has also written a number of other paperback originals, including a series about a character named "The Inquisitor", a James Bond-type agent employed by the Vatican. Smith also wrote two novels in the Nick Carter series.

Three Stations

An Arkady Renko Novel

Simon & Schuster, 2010

A passenger train hurtling through the night. An unwed teenage mother headed to Moscow to seek a new life. A cruel-hearted soldier looking furtively, forcibly, for sex. An infant disappearing without a trace. So begins Martin Cruz Smith's masterful Three Stations, a suspenseful, intricately constructed novel featuring Investigator Arkady Renko. For the last three decades, beginning with the trailblazing Gorky Park, Renko (and Smith) have captivated readers with detective tales set in Russia. Renko is the ironic, brilliantly observant cop who finds solutions to heinous crimes when other lawmen refuse to even acknowledge that crimes have occurred. He uses his biting humor and intuitive leaps to fight not only wrongdoers but the corrupt state apparatus as well. In Three Stations, Renko's skills are put to their most severe test. Though he has been technically suspended from the prosecutor's office for once again turning up unpleasant truths, he strives to solve a last case: the death of an elegant young woman whose body is found in a construction trailer on the perimeter of Moscow's main rail hub. It looks like a simple drug overdose to everyone—except to Renko, whose examination of the crime scene turns up some inexplicable clues, most notably an invitation to Russia's premier charity ball, the billionaires' Nijinksy Fair. Thus a sordid death becomes interwoven with the lifestyles of Moscow's rich and famous, many of whom are clinging to their cash in the face of Putin's crackdown on the very oligarchs who placed him in power. Renko uncovers a web of death, money, madness and a kidnapping that threatens the woman he is coming to love and the lives of children he is desperate to protect. In Three Stations, Smith produces a complex and haunting vision of an emergent Russia's secret underclass of street urchins, greedy thugs and a bureaucracy still paralyzed by power and fear.


Wolves Eat Dogs

An Arkady Renko Novel

Pocket Books, 2006

In his groundbreaking Gorky Park, Martin Cruz Smith created an iconic detective of contemporary fiction. Quietly subversive, brilliantly analytical, and haunted by melancholy, Arkady Renko survived, barely, the journey from the Soviet Union to the New Russia, only to find his transformed nation just as obsessed with corruption and brutality as was the old Communist dictatorship. In Wolves Eat Dogs, Renko returns for his most enigmatic and baffling case: the death of one of Russia's new billionaires, which leads him to Chernobyl and the Zone of Exclusion -- closed to the world since 1986's nuclear disaster. It is still aglow with radioactivity, now inhabited only by the militia, shady scavengers, a few reckless scientists, and some elderly peasants who refuse to relocate. Renko's journey to this ghostly netherworld, the crimes he uncovers there, and the secrets they reveal about the New Russia make for an unforgettable adventure.


Red Square

A Novel (Mortalis)

Ballantine Books, 2007

Back from exile in the hellish reaches of the Soviet Union, homicide investigator Arkady Renko discovers that his country, his Moscow, even his job, are nearly dead. But his enemies are very much alive, and foremost among them are the powerful black-market crime lords of the Russian mafia. Hounded by this terrifying new underworld, chased by the ruthless minions of the newly rich and powerful, and tempted by his great love, defector Irina Asanova, Arkady can only hope desperately for escape. But fate has something else in store.


Stalin's Ghost

An Arkady Renko Novel

Pocket, 2008

Investigator Arkady Renko, the pariah of the Moscow prosecutor's office, has been assigned the thankless job of investigating a new phenomenon: late-night subway riders report seeing the ghost of Joseph Stalin on the platform of the Chistye Prudy Metro station. The illusion seems part political hocus-pocus and also part wishful thinking, for among many Russians Stalin is again popular; the bloody dictator can boast a two-to-one approval rating. Decidedly better than that of Renko, whose lover, Eva, has left him for Detective Nikolai Isakov, a charismatic veteran of the civil war in Chechnya, a hero of the far right and, Renko suspects, a killer for hire. The cases entwine, and Renko's quests become a personal inquiry fueled by jealousy.The investigation leads to the fields of Tver outside of Moscow, where once a million soldiers fought. There, amidst the detritus, Renko must confront the ghost of his own father, a favorite general of Stalin's. In these barren fields, patriots and shady entrepreneurs -- the Red Diggers and Black Diggers -- collect the bones, weapons and personal effects of slain World War II soldiers, and find that even among the dead there are surprises.


Havana Bay

A Novel (Mortalis)

Ballantine Books, 2008

When the corpse of a Russian is hauled from the oily waters of Havana Bay, Arkady Renko comes to Cuba to identify the body. Looking for the killer, he discovers a city of faded loneliness, unexpected danger, and bewildering contradictions. His investigation introduces him to a beautiful Cuban policewoman; to the rituals of Santeria; to an American fugitive and a group of ruthless mercenaries. In this place where all things Russian are despised, where Hemingway fished and the KGB flourished, where the hint of music is always in the air, Arkady finds a trail of deceit that reaches halfway around the world–and a reason to relish his own life again.


Polar Star

Ballantine Books, 2007

He made too many enemies. He lost his party membership. Once Moscow's top criminal investigator, Arkady Renko now toils in obscurity on a Russian factory ship working with American trawlers in the middle of the Bering Sea. But when an adventurous female crew member is picked up dead with the day's catch, Renko is ordered by his captain to investigate an accident that has all the marks of murder. Up against the celebrated Soviet bureaucracy once more, Renko must again become the obsessed, dedicated cop he was in Gorky Park and solve a chilling mystery fraught with international complications.


Rose

Ballantine Books, 2000

The year is 1872. The place is Wigan, England, a coal town where rich mine owners live lavishly alongside miners no better than slaves. Into this dark, complicated world comes Jonathan Blair, who has accepted a commission to find a missing man.

When he begins his search every road leads back to one woman, a haughty, vixenish pit girl named Rose. With her fiery hair and skirts pinned up over trousers, she cares nothing for a society that calls her unnatural, scandalous, erotic.

As Rose and Blair circle one another, first warily, then with the heat of mutual desire, Blair loses his balance. And the lull induced by Rose's sensual touch leaves him unprepared for the bizarre, soul-scorching truth. . . .


December 6

Simon & Schuster, 2002

Set in the crazed, nationalistic Tokyo of late 1941, December 6 explores the coming world war through the other end of history's prism -- a prism held here by an unforgettable rogue and lover, Harry Niles.

In many ways, Niles should be as American as apple pie: raised by missionary parents, taught to respect his elders and be an honorable and upright Christian citizen dreaming of the good life on the sun-blessed shores of California. But Niles is also Japanese: reared in the aesthetics of Shinto and educated in the dance halls and backroom poker gatherings of Tokyo's shady underworld to steal, trick and run for his life. As a gaijin, a foreigner -- especially one with a gift for the artful scam -- he draws suspicion and disfavor from Japanese police. This potent mixture of stiff tradition and intrigue -- not to mention his brazen love affair with a Japanese mistress who would rather kill Harry than lose him -- fills Harry's final days in Tokyo with suspense and fear. Who is he really working for? Is he a spy? For America? For the emperor?

Now, on the eve of Pearl Harbor, Harry himself must decide where his true allegiances lie.

Suspenseful, exciting and replete with the detailed research Martin Cruz Smith brings to all his novels, December 6 is a triumph of imagination, history and storytelling melded into a magnificent whole.

Gorky Park

(Arkady Renko, No. 1)

Ballantine Books, 2007

A triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three corpses found frozen in the snow, faces and fingers missing. Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko is brilliant, sensitive, honest, and cynical about everything except his profession. To identify the victims and uncover the truth, he must battle the KGB, FBI, and New York police as he performs the impossible--and tries to stay alive doing it.

Three Stations

"[Smith] takes what in essence is a police procedural and elevates it to the level of absorbing fiction."—Nicholas A. Basbanes, Los Angeles Times

"A continuing adventure that in terms of popular fiction is surely a work of art."

—Patrick Anderson, Washington Post

"Martin Cruz Smith knows his Russia. Every page reeks of Moscow: dirty snow, the stink of cigarette and vodka fumes, the cynicism and tasteless opulence of the mafia, the all-pervasive corruption."

—The Economist

"The sustained success of Smith's Renko books is based on much more than Renko. This author's gift for tart, succinct description creates a poisonous political backdrop, one that makes his characters' survival skills as important as any of their other attributes. . . [This is] one top-flight series, still sharply honed, none the worse for wear."

—Janet Maslin, New York Times

"There are few thriller practitioners indeed who can weld a story to a graceful chassis of literature and send it barreling away at top speed. Martin Cruz Smith is one of them."

—Andrew Z. Galarneau, Buffalo News

"As always, Smith elevates a police procedural story to a taste of Russia, a glass of vodka poured quivering to the brim." —Jennifer Kay, Associated Press

 


Wolves Eat Dogs

From Booklist
*Starred Review* The terminally melancholic Russian investigator Arkady Renko, whose cynicism is perpetually at war with his need to dig a little deeper, was last seen five years ago in Havana, where the rusting idealism of post-Soviet Cuba mirrored the detective's ravaged inner life. Leave it to Cruz Smith to find an even more evocative setting for the battered Renko: the Zone of Exclusion, the dreaded no-man's land around Chernobyl, an officially abandoned, contaminated area where a bizarre assortment of stubborn Ukrainians, crazed entrepreneurs, and determined researchers continue to live in the shadow of Reactor Four, the "sarcophagus," site of the world 's worst nuclear accident. The case that takes Renko to Chernobyl involves the death of Pasha Ivanov, a billionaire businessman, symbol of the New Russia. Why would such a man commit suicide, jumping from the window of his Moscow apartment, and why was his closet floor covered with salt? Renko, the perennial outsider whose career is officially on the skids ("Some men march confidently from one historical era to another; others skid"), is assigned the simple task of sweeping the suicide under the rug, but naturally, he does the opposite, obsessed by the seemingly inexplicable salt and determined, as always, to keep digging no matter how loudly the bureaucrats scream. Perhaps that's why Renko feels oddly comfortable in Chernobyl: the bureaucrats are out of earshot in a surreal shadow world where the dosimeters (to measure radiation) provide the backbeat for a grayed-out version of life just this side of The Twilight Zone. Even more than Havana Bay, this novel demonstrates Cruz Smith's remarkable ability to meld character with landscape, and if Renko seems to find a shred of hope in the end, we know not to turn our dosimeters off quite yet. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

"Martin Cruz Smith is a master of the international thriller."-- The New York Times

 


Red Square

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

"Extraordinary."
–Time

"Sharply, evocatively written and elaborately plotted . . . [Red Square] should find as many friends as did Gorky Park."
–The Washington Post Book World

"Gripping . . . Smith at his best."
–The Wall Street Journal

"A crackling suspense thriller."
–The Boston Globe

"Fascinating . . . powerful."
–The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Absorbing."
–The New York Times

 


Stalin's Ghost

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Moscow-based Senior Investigator Arkady Renko, in his outstanding sixth outing (after Wolves Eat Dogs), investigates a murder-for-hire scheme that leads him to suspect two fellow police detectives, Nikolai Isakov and Marat Urman, both former members of Russia's elite Black Berets, who served in Chechnya. Isakov, a war hero, is now running for public office. Renko must also look into reports that the ghost of Stalin has begun appearing on subway platforms and why several bodies of Black Berets who served in Chechnya with Isakov have turned up in the morgue. Despite repeated threats to his life, Renko stubbornly perseveres, seeking justice in a land that has no official notion of that concept. Smith eschews vertiginous twists and surprises, concentrating instead on Renko as he slowly and patiently builds his case until the pieces fall together and he has again, if not exactly triumphed, at least survived. This masterful suspense novel casts a searing light on contemporary Russia.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

 


Havana Bay

"IRRESISTIBLE . . . THE PLOT HAS PLENTY OF TWISTS. . . . THE CLIMAX IS WONDERFULLY PACED . . . SIZZLE[S] WITH AN AUTHENTICITY THAT IS RARE INDEED."
–USA Today

"RIPE WITH THE RHYTHMS AND TROPICAL HEAT OF MODERN-DAY CUBA . . . Another fine entry in an enjoyable series of spy novels . . . The year's steamiest read."
–The Wall Street Journal

"A SUPERBLY WRITTEN THRILLER . . . Smith's best Arkady Renko novel since Gorky Park . . . Smith, like his peers, John le Carré and Walter Mosley, writes novels that transcend any genre."
–The Denver Post

 


December 6

From The New Yorker
Smith's new thriller is set in Tokyo in the last days of 1941, just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor; its central character, the American Harry Niles, grew up in Japan, where his missionary parents were preaching the Word. Harry isn't very holy, however: he owns a night club called the Happy Paris, dabbles in assorted short cons, and spends much of his time with various mistresses, including the possibly murderous Michiko, the jukebox girl at the Happy Paris. As the rumors of war heat up, Harry finds that he is the victim of his own equivocal identity: Americans worry that he has become too Japanese, and the Japanese suspect him of being a spy. Smith's plot is more than slightly reminiscent of "Casablanca," and the spectre of the Second World War seems, at this distance, almost quaint, but the characters are so well drawn and the local color so colorful that these quibbles hardly interfere with the novel's pleasures. Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

 


Gorky Park

"Brilliant . . . enough enigmas within enigmas within enigmas to reel the mind."
–The New Yorker

A triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three corpses found frozen in the snow, faces and fingers missing. Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko is brilliant, sensitive, honest, and cynical about everything except his profession. To identify the victims and uncover the truth, he must battle the KGB, FBI, and the New York City police as he pursues a rich, ruthless, and well-connected American fur dealer. Meanwhile, Renko is falling in love with a beautiful, headstrong dissident for whom he may risk everything.

"Once one gets going, one doesn't want to stop. . . . The action is gritty, the plot complicated, [and] the overriding quality is intelligence."
–The Washington Post

"Reminds you just how satisfying a smoothly turned thriller can be." –The New York Times Book Review

"An unbelievable achievement . . . vivid, witty . . . completely fascinating."
–Boston Herald American

"Gripping, romantic, and dazzlingly original."
–Cosmopolitan

Martin Cruz Smith discusses his work, an intimate look into how he researches his books and characters, particularly focusing on details in his novels set in Russia.

We have no current contact information for Mr. Smith.