This is the 7th book to feature Arkady Renko and he continues to be one of my favorite fictional detectives. He’s growing older gracefully and still has his sarcastic wit. He’s also acquired a vodka drenched but knowledgeable sidekick who is a welcome addition.The story begins with the kidnapping of a prostitute’s baby and snowballs from there as Arkady winds up tracking down a serial killer.As always, the best part of the books in this series deal with the gritty backstreets and alleys of Moscow as the author does his usual fine descriptive writing. There are complaints because this installment doesn’t center entirely on Arkady but I don’t see that as a deterrent. The book ends all neat and tidy without any unnecessary clutter in between.I’ve always enjoyed Martin Cruz Smith’s style of writing and especially his sense of humor. Here’s an example. Concerning a speech given to an unreceptive audience: “They didn’t hear a word,” Vaksberg said on his return. “They only know when to clap. I could have been talking to trained seals.”This is one of the author’s better written books although not his best plot. He continues to write entertaining novels with an ongoing character and the series still holds its appeal.