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In Cold Blood (Renko Crime Novels)


groundcontrol

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Hi!

I'm back again with another story about another series of books that it is likely very few people are familiar with. For the expected majority for whom "Renko Crime Novels" did NOT ring a bell, this is a fanfic for a set of crime novels following the Soviet detective Arkady Renko. It's a series, the first of which is Gorky Park. I highly recommend the books. My story, however, doesn't take place in a specific event in the story but rather uses the characters.  If you're really an avid reader of this site, you may recognize the first part since it appeared in an ill-fated drabble thread of mine a little while ago. This story is built off that, so I thought it would be good to include it (forgive me for reposting it lol). I'm trying my hand at crime and mystery here, so bear with me :) 

Feel free to skip this but in case a little more background would help (since I know this "fandom", if one can even call it that lol, is very obscure), here is some quick info: Arkady is the closest thing to a "private investigator" you'll get in the Soviet Union, Pribluda is his nemesis detective from the KGB, Zoya is Arkady's wife and a schoolteacher, and Arkady's marriage is a little, how shall we say, troubled. Hope that helps!

Even if you can't recognize the characters, I hope you'll all find something to enjoy in here anyhow! 

****

     "Arkady!" Major Pribluda exclaimed with contempt so expertly disguised as genuine welcoming that it served as a sort of code only the other inspector could understand. And Arkady understood it well; as he approached he glowered furiously at Pribluda and his assistants before breaking away to cough harshly into his fist. "How nice of you to find it in yourself to grace us with your presence."


     Arkady tugged his scarf tighter around his neck. His eyes, though drooping with fatigue, still found enough energy to shoot daggers at Pribluda. "Where's the body?"


    "Come again?"


     "You heard me."


     "Renko, you don't sound very good," Pribluda said, barely able to coat his glee with enough feigned concern to fool his fellow KGB men. "Perhaps you should leave this case up to me and get some rest."


     Arkady pinched the bridge of his nose and hunched over his shoulder in something that may have been a sneeze. His fur cap skewed slightly and he pushed it back into place.  "I'm here to see the body," he demanded again, though any demands that sound as though they have been uttered by a frog are hard for anyone to heed, much less Pribluda. "What have you done with it?"


     Arkady sneezed twice more into his gloves, too exhausted to stifle again, and Pribluda clucked his tongue. "Cold? Flu? Pneumonia? It could be any of those three if you're not careful."


     "I know interrogations are your thing at the KGB, but I didn't come here to be subjected to one. I know there is a body, male, aged forty-four to fifty, and I know he was found with wounds resembling stab wounds at this forest. Take me to him."


     Pribluda laughed at the sick inspector's naive confidence, and let the coughing and wheezing Arkady to the clearing in the woods where the body had once lay, eyes frozen shut and hair slick with ice, before the KGB removed him. 

*********
    “Only one?” the young pathologist Mishurin said, tapping a few granules of sugar into the watered-down excuse for tea inside his mug. He stirred it with his finger and then licked it. “Got any more sugar?”


“Just one,” Arkady affirmed. He paced back and forth along the cramped 10 feet that was the length of Mishurin’s office. “Straight through the heart, a clean slice of the left ventricle. The murderer knew what he was doing.”


“Interesting, but my question still stands. Any more sugar?”


Arkady continued, speaking half to himself and half to Mishurin. “But the most interesting thing of all is the--heh--the slashes--heh’ESH’uh! All on the fa--ah’kchah! face.”


“Even better, have you got any more tea?”


“Don’t be stupid,” Arkady said dismissively, and then struggled to continue his analysis of the case. “Two in a kind of X below the right eye, a long gash along the le--ehh--left eh’chhtt! The left jaw, and one on the ahh-apple of each cheek. a’CHH’eh! kcht! eh’kcht!”

Arkady bent double into his handkerchief, keeping one hand on the wall to steady himself. Tucking it back away, he sniffed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose in an attempt to staunch his throbbing headache.


“Allergic to this case, eh Arkady?”


“Allergic to your whining, more like.” With one last unceremonious sniffle to himself, Arkady left Mishurin’s office with his own notes under his arm to go type up a case file in peace and perhaps make some tea of his own.

********
Arkady slipped in the door of his apartment, sneezing and hacking. He dropped his pad of notes as well as the keys to his car on the little entry table by the doorway. 


"Sounds like you've picked up the cold I had last week," his wife Zoya observed from the kitchen. All was still; she had made no attempt to rise and greet him. Not that Arkady was surprised. 


"Thank you, darling," he grumbled and threw aside his coat and shoes. 


"My pleasure," came the reply, full of snark. "And don't leave that coat on the floor like a pig. Put it away."


Arkady went into the kitchen and found his wife shaving carrots at the counter in a shirt and underwear but no pants. Of late he would always find her missing an article of clothing her or there, and he knew she was trying to tempt him, but today he was in even less a mood than usual. He brushed past her exposed buttocks to get himself a headache pill and a glass of water. 


"School was good?" he asked, grasping for a topic for civil discourse. 


"It always is," Zoya said, snipping her voice in time with the snipping of the carrots. A minute of silence punctuated only by the methodical rise and fall of the knife to the board stretched between them. 


At last, Arkady said, "Work was fine, thanks for asking."


Zoya nodded and kept cutting. 


"Pribluda found a body with odd disfigurations and wounds in the forest." Arkady paused to turn into his shoulder. "ah'khcheh!" He sniffled thickly before continuing. "Yet again, he thinks he owns this case, the bastard."


Zoya let the knife clatter out of her hands against the cutting board. "There you go again!"


"ah'kch'EW! Eh, what again?"


"You come home and you always bring your job with you. I can't talk to you for two seconds without hearing about a body or Pribluda or this or that! That's just another thing about you, Arkady, that I just can't stand."


"Ah-ah-ahkcht! Another thing? Have you started a list of complaints, Zoya? Maybe we should compare. Mine should be longer."


At this, Zoya stormed out, leaving Arkady to cough and massage at his tender throat. He shook his head. He should really cut back on the yelling. 

 

TBC

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