Martin Cruz Smith’s novel Gorky Park (1981), his most important work, showcases his power to create believable characters within the mystery genre. The hero of Gorky Park, Arkady Renko, is the prototypical investigator—intelligent, cynical, beleaguered by a cheating wife and cheating superiors—who is proud to be Russian. The villain, American John Osborne, is slippery and homicidal. Smith’s ability to make the murderous KGB officer Pribluda more sympathetic than the privileged Osborne proves his skill with plot and characterization. For the most part, Smith’s language is compact, page-turner prose. He generally describes the grotesque—such as the dwarf Andreev in Gorky Park and the bat caves in Nightwing (1977)—without relying on metaphor. Smith is notable as well for his ability to paint a convincing portrait of societies and institutions, such as the bureaucracy in Gorky Park, and of the dynamic between a couple, such as the relationship between Anna Weiss and Joe Pena in Stallion Gate (1986). He has contributed to an understanding of humans’ relationship to other animals with the mythic interaction between man and animal depicted in Nightwing, Gorky Park, and Gypsy in Amber (1971).