Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tatiana - Martin Cruz Smith

My review of Martin Cruz Smith's audiobook version of Tatiana first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. It is appearing here today with their permission.


First line: "It was the sort of day that didn't give a damn."

Martin Cruz Smith’s Russian investigator, Arkady Renko, returns in the eighth novel of the series bearing his name. For this Simon & Schuster unabridged audiobook production, Henry Strozier gives voice to the somber protagonist. Strozier’s slow, tired cadence brings out Renko’s melancholy as well as the destitution of his environment.

Renko is unconvinced that a notorious reporter—Tatiana Petrovna—voluntarily jumped to her death. He wants to investigate the death, but once it’s deemed a suicide there is no cause. However, the pieces don’t add up, and when Grisha Grigorenko, a powerful mob boss and a target of Tatiana’s reporting, is shot to death the same week, Renko’s discomfort intensifies.

Renko gains his entry to investigate when Tatiana’s body winds up missing from the morgue. As he follows the clues to Kalingrad, the tone only grows grimmer.

Strozier’s pitch doesn’t change much throughout the narration, but he still manages to bring out the playfulness of scenes involve a pug dog and the naiveté of Renko’s teenage charge Zhenya who thinks he will find glory in joining the army. This approach to the novel maintains the dark tone while still evoking individuality for each character.

Strozier is also acutely aware of Smith’s subtle humor adding just the right vocal adjustments to drive home the amusement and elicit a laugh from the audience. Not unusual for this series on audio is the absence of Russian dialect in the characters’ dialogue.

The overall production of Tatiana is crisp and free of superfluous noises, allowing listeners to focus on the story and fully experience Renko’s Russian world.

Listen to an excerpt of the audio:

Tatiana is available as an unabridged audio from Simon & Schuster Audio.  It is also available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781439140215 ) from Simon & Schuster.


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