Book Review: Polar Star by Martin Cruz Smith (1989)

Polar Star is a mystery novel and the second book in the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith. The story takes place in 1989, following the events of the first book Gorky Park.

The protagonist, Arkady Renko, is a Russian investigator who has been exiled to a factory ship in the Bering Sea. He is working as a crew member, gutting fish and feeling miserable in his surroundings. However, when a fellow crew member is found dead, Renko starts to investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

As Renko delves deeper into the investigation, he uncovers a web of deceit, corruption, and murder that implicates some of the most powerful people on the ship. The crew members are all suspects, and Renko must navigate their various nationalities and allegiances to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, Renko’s personal life is also in turmoil. He is struggling with his feelings for his ex-girlfriend, who is also on the ship, and he must confront the memories of his past and his own failures as a detective.

As the tension builds, Renko finds himself in a race against time to solve the murder before the ship reaches its destination and the killer can escape justice. With its vivid descriptions of life on a factory ship and its complex, multi-layered plot, “Polar Star” is a gripping and suspenseful novel that will keep readers guessing until the very end

Polar Star is a thrilling novel that combines a captivating mystery with an immersive portrayal of life on a factory ship in the Bering Sea. Martin Cruz Smith’s writing is engaging and his characters are well-drawn, making the story feel realistic and compelling.

One of the strengths of the book is its portrayal of the harsh realities of life on a factory ship. The cramped living conditions, the long hours of work, and the danger of the job all come alive on the page, giving readers a sense of the isolation and desperation felt by the crew members. This creates a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere that adds to the suspense of the story.

The mystery itself is also well-crafted. The investigation is complex and full of unexpected twists and turns, keeping readers guessing as to the identity of the killer until the very end. The various suspects are all well-developed, and their motivations and relationships with one another are realistically portrayed.

Arkady Renko is a fascinating character, and his struggles with his past and his feelings for his ex-girlfriend add depth and complexity to the story. The novel also touches on themes of corruption and power, as Renko must navigate the various nationalities and alliances on the ship to uncover the truth.

Polar Star is a gripping and suspenseful novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Its vivid descriptions, well-drawn characters, and compelling mystery make it a standout in the genre. You can get this incredible book from Amazon here.


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