Detective Arkady Renko, still wearing his melancholy Russian soul on his sleeve, returns in Martin Cruz Smith's Wolves Eat Dogs. We are treated to an uncommon, insider's look at the new Russia, where high rollers live in sumptuous style and ordinary folk live as they did in the bleak days of Communism. It all begins as Arkady looks out the window of a swanky Moscow high-rise at the body of Pasha Ivanov, a prime specimen of the nouveau super-riche spawned by corrupt post-Soviet capitalism. The investigation that follows takes Renko into the Zone of Exclusion, where the horrific aftermath of Chernobyl still poisons the air, the food and the ground. Smith is in top form, adding vividly rendered characters and landscapes to a compelling plot, and he's ably assisted by Ron McLarty's fine-tuned, expertly accented narration.

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