Child 44 by tom rob smith book review

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child 44 by tom rob smith book review

Child 44 (Leo Demidov, #1) by Tom Rob Smith

MGB officer Leo is a man who never questions the Party Line. He arrests whomever he is told to arrest. He dismisses the horrific death of a young boy because he is told to, because he believes the Party stance that there can be no murder in Communist Russia. Leo is the perfect soldier of the regime. But suddenly his confidence that everything he does serves a great good is shaken. He is forced to watch a man he knows to be innocent be brutally tortured. And then he is told to arrest his own wife. Leo understands how the State works: Trust and check, but check particularly on those we trust. He faces a stark choice: his wife or his life. And still the killings of children continue...
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Hear Tom Rob Smith's chilling research for CHILD 44

Forget It, Comrade. This Is Moscow.

Child 44 published in is a thriller novel by British writer Tom Rob Smith. This novel, the first in a trilogy, takes inspiration from the crimes of Andrei Chikatilo , also known as the Rostov Ripper, the Butcher of Rostov, and the Red Ripper. Chikatilo was convicted of and executed for committing 52 murders in the Soviet Union, though his crimes occurred after the Stalin era. In addition to highlighting the problem of Soviet-era criminality in a state where "there is no crime", the novel explores the paranoia of the age, the education system, the secret police apparatus, orphanages , homosexuality in the USSR , and mental hospitals. The second and third books in the trilogy, titled The Secret Speech April [3] and Agent 6 July , [4] respectively, also feature the protagonist Leo Demidov and his wife, Raisa.

Thank you! Myopic young Andrei throws himself on the frantic feline only to have both cat and older brother Pavel snatched by a mysterious man who bags them and disappears, leaving Andrei to stumble home alone. War hero MGB officer Leo Stepanovich Demidov begins to realize, during the course of performing his brutal State Security duties, that the death of the four-year-old son of a younger associate may not have been as accidental as the official report suggested. Family and neighbors claim that the child was brutally assaulted before being left on the railroad tracks. There are only attacks by the corrupt outside world. Leo has another problem. There was a problem adding your email address.

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The enigmatic title makes it sound like a cut-price misery memoir, but Tom Rob Smith's first novel is an efficient thriller set in and around Moscow in , the year of Stalin's death. The hero is Leo, a senior apparatchik in the secret police charged with rooting out anything or anyone who might threaten the precarious health of the Soviet Union. One day the body of a dead boy is found on the railway lines outside Moscow, hit by a train.

Share on:. Leo is a hero after World War 2 and a successful agent in the MGB; a man unquestioningly loyal to his mother Russia, despite having to do questionable duties, until he discovers a mistake in the system and is powerless to do anything. He makes a vindictive and vicious enemy of the lower ranking but ambitious officer Vasili, a man whom Leo humiliates. Meanwhile, his wife Raisa is named as a spy and Leo's loyalty is tested. In the aftermath of the scandal, Leo's life is turned upside down and he is demoted and sent into exile in Southern Russia as a lowly militia man, where he discovers a series of child murders that the state has tried to cover up. Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 is a tale of one man in a corrupt system and his fight to do the right thing.

Set in the Soviet Union in , this stellar debut from British author Smith offers appealing characters, a strong plot and authentic period detail. When war hero Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a rising star in the MGB, the State Security force, is assigned to look into the death of a child, Leo is annoyed, first because this takes him away from a more important case, but, more importantly, because the parents insist the child was murdered. In Stalinist Russia, there's no such thing as murder; the only criminals are those who are enemies of the state. After attempting to curb the violent excesses of his second-in-command, Leo is forced to investigate his own wife, the beautiful Raisa, who's suspected of being an Anglo-American sympathizer. Demoted and exiled from Moscow, Leo stumbles onto more evidence of the child killer. The evocation of the deadly cloud-cuckoo-land of Russia during Stalin's final days will remind many of Gorky Park and Darkness at Noon , but the novel remains Smith's alone, completely original and absolutely satisfying.

First things first: this is a compelling detective story that I read in the proverbial single sitting. Tom Rob Smith's debut borrows something from both these authors, but Robert Harris's Fatherland is perhaps the best comparison. Just as Harris used a detective to unpick the true nature of Nazi totalitarianism, so Smith uses a murder mystery to explore Stalinism. The plot revolves around a murderer who can continue killing because the Soviet system cannot admit to having such capitalist social problems as murder or prostitution. Despite an omnipresent secret police force knowing everything about everyone, they are not equipped to handle a serial killer. Children are killed and mutilated across the country, but the local authorities dare not report them as murders, so there is no way the central authorities can register what is going on. The killings are treated as the acts of "deviants", homosexuals or mentally retarded people, never of "normal" healthy Soviet citizens.

1 COMMENTS

  1. Evan H. says:

    Stalinism provides Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 the backdrop for a gripping detective story, says Angus Macqueen.

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