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Authors: Martin Cruz Smith

Polar Star

BOOK: Polar Star
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Praise for

Polar Star
joins the still-narrow shelf of novels of crime that transcend the form and, in the name of entertainment, illuminate their time.”

—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“In the full rush of the chase, Smith and Renko still seem irresistible.”


“Exciting … vital and believable … Arkady himself is a major creation, even more interesting than he was in
Gorky Park.…
The book is full of interesting information and alert and witty social and political observation.”

—The Boston Globe

“This new novel is that very rare thing, a piece of literature that walks like a page-turner.… What really holds you in this book is the idea that you’re almost experiencing what it’s like to live over there.”

—Chicago Sun-Times

“Pungent with suspense and violence … In this sequel, we meet a more complete and complicated Renko with qualities of courage, fear, wit, self-doubt and intelligence.… Smith’s prose can be graphic and primal.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“An old-fashioned mystery that relies on tight plotting, suspense, interesting cops and robbers, and uncertainty of the outcome.
Polar Star
is Martin Cruz Smith’s best novel—and one of the best mysteries of the year.”

—Houston Post

“Arkady is what makes
Polar Star
work. He’s a brilliant creation and, combined with Smith’s talents as a scene setter and developer of characters, the novel emerges as every bit the triumph the fans of
Gorky Park
are sure to demand.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch

“The characters are vivid, the setting is realistic, the plot is intelligent, the writing is lucid. There are ample helpings of intrigue, violence, suspense, passion and homespun Russian wisdom. Simply put,
Polar Star
is an undeniably entertaining adventure story.”

San Jose Mercury News

“Smith has again exhibited a masterful hand in creating a follow-up to
Gorky Park
that never falters in its steadily increasing tension. Throughout the novel, he has a firm grip on his characters and plot. Here is a rare novel of suspense whose literary qualities are consistently upheld.”

—The Chattanooga Times

Polar Star
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

2007 Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Edition

Copyright © 1989 by Martin Cruz Smith
Dossier copyright © 2007 by Random House, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., in 1989.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint previously published material:

Indiana University Press: Excerpts from “Brigantine” by Pavel Kogan and from “Wolf Hunt,” “Ginger Moll,” and “Hunting with Helicopters, or Where Are You, Wolves?” by Vladimir Vysotsky, based on translations by Gerald Stanton Smith from his
Songs to Seven Strings
. Reprinted by permission of Indiana University Press.

Little, Brown & Company, Inc.: Excerpts from the poem “The Guest” from
Poems of Akhmatova
, selected, translated, and introduced by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hayward. Translation copyright © 1973 by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward. First appeared in
The New York Review of Books
. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown & Company, Inc.

The Don Swaim interview of Martin Cruz Smith is reprinted with permission of the WOUB Center for Public Media and the Donald L. Swaim Collection in the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections at Ohio University. The interview can be heard in its entirety at Wired for Books,

and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

eISBN: 978-0-307-80978-0


I thank Captain Boris Nadein and the crew of the
Captain Mike Hastings and the crew of the
Sharon Gordon, Dennis McLaughlin and William Turner for their hospitality in the Bering Sea. Valuable assistance was also provided by Martin Arnold, Kathy Blumberg, Captain D. J. (Jack) Branning, Knox Burger, Dr. Gerald Freedman, Beatrice Golden, Professor Robert Hughes, Captain James Robinson and Kitty Sprague.

Most of all I owe Alex Levin and Captain Vladil Lysenko for their patience.

There is a Soviet factory ship named the
Polar Star
. Neither it nor the
is the
Polar Star
of this book, which is fiction.


Like a beast, the net came steaming up the ramp and into the sodium lamps of the trawl deck. Like a gleaming pelt, mats of red, blue, orange strips covered the mesh: plastic “chafing hair” designed to ease the net’s way over the rocks of the sea bottom. Like rank breath, the exhalation of the sea’s cold enveloped the hair in a halo of its own colors, brilliant in the weepy night.

Water hissed from the net’s plastic hair onto the wooden boards that provided footing on the deck. Smaller fish, smelts and herring, fell free. Starfish dropped like stones. Uprooted crabs, even dead, landed on tiptoe. Overhead, gulls and shearwaters hovered at the outer glow of the lamps. As the wind shifted the birds broke into a swirl of white wings.

Usually the net was tipped and disgorged headfirst into the forward chutes to begin with, then ass-end into the rear. Either end could be opened by releasing the knot of a “zipper,” a nylon cord braided through the mesh. Though the men stood by with shovels ready for work, the trawlmaster waved them off and stepped into the water raining from the net’s plastic hair and stared straight
up, removing his helmet the better to see. The colored strips dripped like running paint. He reached and spread the hair from the mesh, then looked into the dark to find the other, smaller light riding the ocean swells, but already fog hid the catcher boat the net had come from. From his belt the trawlmaster took a double-edged knife, reached through the dripping plastic hair and sawed the belly of the net down and across. Fish began dropping by ones and twos. He gave the knife a last furious tug and stepped back quickly.

BOOK: Polar Star
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