People are seeing Joseph Stalin's ghost on a Moscow subway platform.
That is only one of the realities investigator Arkady Renko is having to handle in the new Russia.
Martin Cruz Smith has written several novels featuring Renko. Each is an extraordinary look at a decent man trying to survive in a bizarre environment. One chapter into Stalin's Ghost and you'll know why Martin Cruz Smith's books are far above the standard thriller or police procedural. An excerpt:
Zoya Filotova wore her black hair severely trimmed as if to defiantly display the bruise below her eye. She was about forty, Arkady thought, stylishly sinewy in a red leather pantsuit and a golden cross that was purely ornamental. She sat on one side of the booth, Arkady and Victor on the other, and although Zoya had ordered a brandy she had yet to touch it. She had long red fingernails and as she turned a cigarette pack over and over Arkady was put in mind of a crab inspecting dinner. The cafe was a chrome affair above a car wash on the beltway. No car washes tonight, not with snow falling, and the few cars that made it to the cafes were SUVs with four-wheel drive. The exceptions were Arkady's Zhiguli and Victor's Lada crouching in a corner of the lot.