Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith

April 2007

This is a great “airport” book—not deep literature, no startling insights into the human condition, just good writing, an encompassing atmosphere, and a murder mystery. I couldn’t guess whodunnit—because I never can—so the book kept me hooked to the end. Great fun.

Crime novels are not my thing at all, but I do have a definite fondness for Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko novels. I love how Smith evokes Russia; his descriptions are exceptionally vivid and believable. I liked the whole Cold War thing going on in Gorky Park, I liked the Arctic misery in Polar Star, I liked the grim Russian poetry quoted in Red Square, and I like the depiction of freewheeling, modern-day Moscow and the bizarre, blasted place that is Chernobyl in this book.

Jeremy says Wolves Eat Dogs is a cyberpunk novel that just happens to be based on a real situation, i.e., a nuclear explosion. He said that it reads like William Gibson: the pacing, the detective story, the whole noir thing, really. I think that’s an interesting take on the book, and after he said it, I definitely could see what he meant. And in the wake of the Alexander Litvinenko affair, Wolves Eat Dogs has taken on an even more deeply sinister, real/unreal aspect. The (alternative) future is now.

Further reading…