Gorky Park (novel)

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Gorky Park
First edition
Author Martin Cruz Smith
Country United States
Language English
Series Arkady Renko # 1
Genre Crime novel
Publisher Random House & GK Hall
Publication date
March 1981
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 365 pp
ISBN 0-394-51748-2
OCLC 6914272
813/.54 19
LC Class PS3569.M5377 G6
Followed by Polar Star

Gorky Park is a 1981 crime novel written by Martin Cruz Smith set in the Soviet Union.[1][2]

Gorky Park is the first book in a series featuring the character Arkady Renko. Two books, Polar Star and Red Square, are also set during the Soviet era. Five further books take place after the fall of the Soviet Union. 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, Three Stations and Tatiana.[3]


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[edit]

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:

Ideas and influences[edit]

The fact that Renko is described as having this syndrome may be one of the reasons 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.

Film Adaptation[edit]

In 1983 a film adaptation of the novel was released starring William Hurt as Renko, with Lee Marvin and Brian Dennehy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Wroe, Nicholas, The Guardian (March 26, 2005). Crime Pays
  3. ^ See, Carolyn, Washington Post (September 3, 2010). "Three Stations," the new thriller by Martin Cruz Smith, author of "Gorky Park"

External links[edit]