In 2014, after publication of my second book Appassionata, an anthology of short stories, I mustered the courage to tackle a novel. It was to be a recollection of my Turkish high school days cloaked within the format of a murder mystery. At first I had no idea how to go about it.
In late 2015 my mother in law Pat Snyder, an avid reader, recommended Martin Cruz Smith. He is a good crime writer, she said. So I read Red Square, his second book in the Arkady Renko series. The first one, Gorky Park had been made into a movie that I had seen years ago.
Red Square was an epiphany. I was taken by Cruz Smith’s lean narrative and evocative descriptions, a few words or sentences sufficient to build an entire scene in the reader’s mind. I liked the way the story moved through different cities, each a self-contained tale that contributed to the whole. I was also impressed by the fact that the whodunit was not all that important. Cruz Smith sprinkled his story with countless big and small mysteries that drew the reader deeply into his story.
Red Square stimulated me to begin writing my own novel in the same vein. I emulated Cruz Smith but did not copy him. During the course of the project I re-read Red Square twice more. Each reading provided impetus to continue on. It was as if Red Square was filling up my writer’s tank with petrol.
The story of Red Square moves through Moscow, Munich, Berlin and back to Moscow. My story was to move through different cities too, but it became too big within the first. So I stopped at Budapest. The sequel or sequels will go through the others. Before embarking upon them I’ll go back and read Red Square for another