This book is a Martin Cruz Smith Omnibus, featuring 2 of his best known novels. "Gorky Park" is an intricately plotted novel with plot twists that keep you guessing. The characters, such as Arkady, the chief investigating detective, are well developed and interesting in their eccentricities. Gorky Park, the other main "character", is set in Moscow, Russia, shortly after Stalin's death. In the park, 3 bodies are found, killed by gunshot and horribly mutilated to hide their identifications. Arkady suspects the murders are connected to some other crimes internationally in which case the KGB would have jurisdiction. But the head of the KGB wants nothing to do with it. Or so he says. This is the first little mystery in this well crafted novel. Why is the KGB refusing to deal with these murders? There are a few other little mysteries whose solution, mostly by Arkada, leads to the solution to the big mystery: why were these 3 murdered? The plot setting of an earlier Russia, which includes Moscow and Siberia, makes for very interesting reading alongside the suspense. You get more of an understanding about Russia's culture and political shenanigans in our own times. I would have given "Gorky Park" 5 stars if it had been somewhat shorter than 559 pages. I thought that some of the book's writings were superfluous. Yet with "Gorky Park's" well developed characters, likeable detective, plot twists, and post Stalin, Russian background, I can only highly recommend this book if you're looking for an excellent suspense/mystery book.
"Nightwings" is about vampire bats terrorizing the Native American villages in the Southwest. As with most movies made from books, "Nightwings" is a whole lot better. The sheriff of the Hopi Indian villages, Youngman, is not exactly a likeable hero. Employing cynicism, silence when questioned by whites, and a quick temper, Youngman is great at putting people off and getting them on the defensive. But he more than makes up for these character defects since he also has a lot of integrity and courage. "Nightwings" has none of the plot twists that "Gorky Park" has. Youngman's main nemesis is Chief Chee, Navajo tribal chief and main fundraiser which he does well. Unfortunately, Chee wants to sell out the Native Americans environment by selling a big chunk of land to coal mining interests. Though Youngman is vehemently opposed to this, he understands that Chee thinks he's doing the right thing for his people as well as for the Hopis. When a bubonic type plague breaks out as the result of the vampire bats' bites, Chee minimizes it so as not to lose business interest in his proposed projects. I don't know if this book is exactly a "horror" novel so I'm just calling it a suspense novel. It is definitely one of the "candy" snack type books I've read recently. The plot is very straighforward and the characters are stereotypes. In fact, it seems as if Chee is modeled after the head of the seaside town who chooses to minimize the shark attacks and even suppressing news of any shark attacks so as not to keep the tourists away for the summer. I would give this book 3 stars and not 2 since it's to Smith's credit that he can write such a suspenseful novel despite its faults as I've just stated.