i think gorky park is a great example of research building into a real and relevant world: author cruz smith is not russian yet he provides enough context and types that i buy his soviet union, and believe in the characters that people it, especially his chief inspector, arkady renko, but he doesn't overdo it either: he doesn't layer in a lot of factoids that he learned along the way. it's a well-plotted book, and i was really engaged right until late into the last part, where kirwill and arkady debate the relative merits of murder in the USSR and the USA: then i began to really feel impatient and my interest fading, wanting the book to wrap up already. it got very tiring, what with all the switchbacks and betrayals, and snow. arkady reminded me quite a lot of martin beck, only ukrainian. i'm still debating whether this is a three or four star book for me. i may just say 3.5 and have done.