Like most mystery stories, Gorky Park is driven by an intricate plot. It is the detective’s search for the truth and his solution to the crime that create interest. Nevertheless, the novel contains many well-developed characters. Arkady is in the tradition of the stoical detective, a loner who has to figure things out for himself and is alienated from the establishment. At the same time, he is not a stock American or English character in Russian clothes. He is extraordinarily bright, but he realizes that he lacks some of the basic techniques for solving crimes that any New York City detective would have in his possession, primarily because his investigations have been relegated to routine matters. He is middle-aged, worried, and depressed over his failing marriage to Zoya. Though he eventually beds Irina, he does so with a sense of fatality, suspecting that they will not be able to stay together.
Irina is fiercely alive in her desire to leave the country. She detests Soviet life, which is why it takes her so long to discover that Osborne is not her benefactor but her enemy. For he has promised Irina and her friend that he will take them to the United States if they collaborate in his plan to smuggle the sables, and Irina clings to the illusion that her friend has escaped the country and has not become one of the murder victims in Gorky Park.
Andrei Iamskoy and John Osborne are the most devious and complex characters in the novel....
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