Books: Murder At Sea

POLAR STAR

by Martin Cruz Smith

Random House; 386 pages; $19.95

In Gorky Park (1981), Martin Cruz Smith showed a good way to turn one among the thousands of detective novels published annually into a runaway best seller. The three crucial steps: 1) construct a plot with plenty of corpses and exfoliating complexities; 2) provide a beleaguered and therefore sympathetic hero, one whose problem involves not only solving a crime but avoiding extermination by a small army of people who do not wish the truth to be known; 3) set the action in a place that is inaccessible and romantically forbidding...

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