Each chapter heading in Martin Cruz Smith’s brilliant novel, Tatiana, is printed on a slant, providing fair warning that not everything in this story is “on the level.” The author manipulates us by withholding facts and feeding us misinformation. Why does Smith lead us astray? He may be informing the uninitiated that his hero, Arkady Kyrilovich Renko, Senior Investigator for Very Important Cases, lives in a society that is off-kilter, warped, and perverse. To survive in today’s Russia, Renko, and others like him, must always be on their guard. Arkady’s cynical colleague, Detective Sergeant Victor Orlov, is tired of wasting his time trying to get the goods on influential miscreants. He insists, “The point is, you can’t win. We’re just playing it out.” He would rather spend his days passed out in his apartment after drinking himself into a stupor.