cover image The Siberian Dilemma

The Siberian Dilemma

Martin Cruz Smith. Simon & Schuster, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4391-4025-3

MWA Grand Master Smith’s stellar ninth outing for Arkady Renko (after 2013’s Tatiana) finds the maverick detective, who serves as an investigator of special cases for Zurin, the Moscow Prosecutor, growing increasingly concerned over his inability to reach his girlfriend, investigative journalist Tatiana Petrovna, after she fails to return to Moscow as scheduled from an assignment. Arkady knows only that she went to Siberia. Meanwhile, Zurin orders Arkady to travel to Siberia to oversee the prosecution of Aba Makhmud, a Chechen terrorist. Zurin directs Arkady to insure that Makhmud, who tried to kill the Moscow Prosecutor, receives a lengthy prison sentence, and threatens to harm Arkady’s stepson if he fails to do so. Arkady is keener to go to Siberia once he learns Tatiana is probably still there, doing a story on Mikhail Kuznetsov, the so-called “hermit billionaire,” who may run against Putin in the next election. The stakes rise after Renko arrives in Siberia and becomes involved in investigating a Russian oligarch’s murder. Smith does his usual superior job of blending plot and setting. This is a must for any crime fiction fan interested in the underside of Putin’s Russia. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg, Andrew Nurnberg Assoc. (Nov.)