It has been a long wait. Three years, to be precise, since the last Arkady Renko novel. Ever since 1981, when Gorky Park hit the book stands running, no other serial novel has had such a sad, weather-beaten hero-of-the-common-man as the Russian investigator Arkady Renko. He is persistent, clever, self-effacing, plodding, suicidal, broken-hearted, witty, loyal to a fault, keen-eyed, and mostly acts like a beaten dog.
Russians are a proud people. Another of their stronger traits is that they are realistic. They seem to have the ability to accept the hand that they have been dealt, self-analyze it, and still continue to survive in a society that seems to have only two classes: the Haves and the Have nots.
In this 6th installment, Arkady is once again on the brink of being fired for insubordination. While helping out a friend who is a hopelessly drunken detective, Arkady stumbles upon a serial killer. Unfortunately for Arkady and the next victims, the government is not accepting of his theories and are hurried to distance themselves from him.
Arkady's young ward, Zhenya, the brilliant, street chess-hustler, is also trying to distance himself from Arkady. Zhenya stumbles upon a very young girl - Maya - whose infant was stolen from her while trying to escape her miserable life of forced prostitution. Zhenya, who would be the last to admit that he has learned anything useful from Arkady, tries to take on the role of protector, while assisting to find the kidnapped child. As always, there is Cruz' continuing central theme of class struggle.