Journalist Tatiana Petrovna is on the move. Arkady Renko, iconic Moscow investigator and Tatiana's part-time lover, hasn't seen her since she left on assignment over a month ago. When she doesn't arrive on her scheduled train, he's positive something is wrong.
... in a thrilling change of pace, The Siberian Dilemma takes us out of the city and into Russia’s untamed wilderness in search of a journalist who’s gone missing while on a dangerous, perhaps foolhardy, assignment ... The plot diffuses into several subplots, but so long as we keep our sights on Arkady, everything makes perfect sense. Smith’s lucid prose, surprising imagery and realistic dialogue, as well as his wonderfully quirky characters, all serve his engrossing storytelling. But in the end what linger in your mind are the voices — of people who never knew they had so much to say and never dreamed their voices mattered.
Martin Cruz Smith’s prose flows as lucidly as ever. The author has a knack for working witty observations about Russian life into the text, celebrating the unique facets of the society and culture while highlighting the very glaring flaws in the country’s politics and institutions ... Bolot is a brilliant character, and what begins as a police case and a mission to find Tatiana soon turns into a terrific adventure in the wilds of Siberia. There are murders, sabotage on the oil rigs, bear attacks, double-crosses, political intrigue and life-and-death journeys across the wilderness. For much of the book, the more detailed and philosophical side of Cruz Smith’s writing takes a back seat to a style that is direct and punchy ... However, they are exceptionally enjoyable pages and this novel is hard to put down. Some readers may have misgivings over the fact that Renko doesn’t seem to have aged much and can deal with the same physical stresses he faced 38 years ago. But the book’s main flaw is that the author throws Renko into the biggest and most fascinating dilemma he faces very late in the story, and extricates him from it far too easily. What he has to do and what he’s up against will have your head spinning, but the final outcome feels too convenient and unsatisfying ... Still, The Siberian Dilemma is a wonderful read from a wonderful writer – MCS is still one of the best in crime fiction.
The Siberian Dilemma has all the tension, sympathetic characterization and research-based verisimilitude that Smith displayed right from the first novel ... Everyone in The Siberian Dilemma seems more urbane that one might expect of real life ... But Smith’s research is telling ... there is little doubt Smith has trod in at least some of his hero’s fictional footsteps. Smith has a remarkable ability to evoke atmosphere with the simplest of language ... Perhaps because Smith only rarely finds the need to be explicitly edifying...the book, in its atmospheric and introspective way, perhaps is.