The seventh installment in the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith is tighter and more succinct than ever. With a characteristic eye for dark details, the novel winds its way around the titular three train stations in Moscow, Renko trying to solve a murder while his 15-year old, know-it-all charge helps a girl search for her lost baby. Renko is almost as wrecked as the cars he drives. His reputation in the police is suspect, but his nose for a dirty trail of corruption, deceit, and murder is still keen.
Three Stations feels smaller than the sprawling novels Cruz Smith wrote early in the series, but this does not make it lesser. Instead it feels more concentrated; a story about a week in Renko’s life instead of a month or a year. It’s the work of a mature writer at the top of his observational and prosaic powers, able to say as much or more with less.