Gorky Park (novel)
First edition cover
|Author||Martin Cruz Smith|
|Series||Arkady Renko # 1|
|Publisher||Random House & GK Hall|
|Publication date||March 1981|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)|
|Pages||365 pp (hardback edition)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-394-51748-2 (first edition, hardback)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 19|
|LC Classification||PS3569.M5377 G6|
|Followed by||Polar Star|
Gorky Park is the first book in a series which also includes Polar Star and Red Square which are set during the Soviet era. Four more books with the character Arkady Renko, which all take place after the fall of the Soviet Union, have been published. These are Havana Bay, set in communist Cuba; Wolves Eat Dogs, which follows Renko in the disaster of Chernobyl; Stalin's Ghost in which Arkady returns to a Russia led by Vladimir Putin, and Three Stations.
The story follows Arkady Renko, a chief investigator for the Militsiya, who is assigned to a case involving three corpses found in Gorky Park, an amusement park in Moscow, who have had their faces and fingertips cut off by the murderer to prevent identification.
Despite being born into the nomenklatura himself, Renko exposes corruption and dishonesty on the part of influential and well-protected members of the elite, regardless of the consequences. A short episode of the book takes place in the United States, but when exposed to western capitalist society, he finds it to be equally corrupt and returns to the Soviet Union. (While he may have found corruption in the West, in Red Square, it is stated that he returned to the Soviet Union in order to protect his love interest, Irina, from also being forced to return.)
Pathoheterodoxy Syndrome is a fictional mental illness. It is the idea of a misguided arrogance. The syndrome was said to be contracted by Chief Investigator Renko, who was thus described by a KGB agent:
You have unreal expectations… You overestimate your personal powers. You feel isolated from society. You swing from excitement to sadness. You mistrust the people who most want to help you. You resent authority even when you represent it. You think you are the exception to every rule. You underestimate the collective intelligence. What is right is wrong and what is wrong is right.
Ideas and influences
The fact that Renko is described as having this syndrome may be one of the factors to believe he is a Byronic hero. Smith satirically created the concept of "Pathoheterodoxy", to show the way that the Soviet Union would have characterised Soviet dissidents and their failure to obey and conform.
While the syndrome itself is fictional, the incident also alludes to the very real Soviet practice of labelling dissidents as mentally ill, and of forcibly treating them with psychotropic drugs. Renko's love interest, Irina, was likewise revealed to have been institutionalized for similarly false "psychiatric problems" and forcibly treated at some earlier time, resulting in a tumor that left her with a severe facial blemish and blind in one eye.
- Gorky Park, a 1983 film based on the novel
- O'Brien, Timothy L. The New York Times (August 6, 2007). Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko series: A trail of clues to the Russian soul
- Wroe, Nicholas, The Guardian (March 26, 2005). Crime Pays
- See, Carolyn, Washington Post (September 3, 2010). "Three Stations," the new thriller by Martin Cruz Smith, author of "Gorky Park"