The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

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....

(The entire section is 545 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Arkady Vasilevich Renko

Arkady Vasilevich Renko (ahr-KAH-dee vah-SIH-leh-vihch REHN-koh), a senior homicide investigator for the Moscow Militia. Although he is the son of a Russian general known as a war hero, he refuses to use his father’s standing to promote his career. He also rejects active Communist Party membership. This decision on principle taints his relationship with his wife, Zoya, and political disagreements facilitate their separation. He investigates a triple homicide in Gorky Park and initially wonders whether the case should be handled by KGB agent Major Pribluda. The brutal murders lack straightforward clues to motive, but he methodically picks apart physical evidence in order to pinpoint a suspect. He interviews Mosfilm wardrobe assistant Irina Asanova, who provides him with a link to the victims. He develops feelings for Irina, although he is unsure of her involvement in the case. He links an American, John Osborne, to the murders and suspects KGB involvement. This notion is reinforced when his colleague, plainclothes detective Pasha Pavlovich, receives a bullet in the back. The loss embitters Arkady, who blames Pribluda for Pasha’s death. He becomes more determined to solve the murders and befriends William Kirwill, an American police officer who was the brother of one of the victims; they establish a beneficial “partnership.” He alienates Irina when he forces her to face her friends’ deaths, but he flies to her rescue when he learns of her abduction by KGB officials. The ensuing confrontation ends in his near-fatal stabbing. After months of recuperation and KGB interrogation concerning Osborne, he agrees to aid in the fur trader’s arrest in the United States. Arkady works with the KGB, but only for Irina’s sake. Although he loves Irina, he leaves her in America, admitting that he could never be more than Russian.

Major Pribluda

Major Pribluda (pree-

(The entire section is 829 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Arkady Renko, Gorky Park's protagonist, is the alienated citizen of a culture that prides itself upon its elimination of capitalism's...

(The entire section is 393 words.)