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Friday, January 25, 2013

"Child 44" by Tom Rob Smith ~ Stunning Thriller!

In a country ruled by fear, no one is innocent.

Stalin's Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law. But when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the State's obedient servant finds himself demoted and exiled. Now, with only his wife at his side, Leo must fight to uncover shocking truths about a killer-and a country where "crime" doesn't exist.

Published by:  Grand Central Publishing/Hachette
Pages:  436 plus Reading Group Guide
Genre:  Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
Find out more by visiting the author's website:  http://www.tomrobsmith.com



After graduating from Cambridge University in 2001 and spending a year in Italy on a creative writing scholarship, Tom Rob Smith went to work writing scripts and storylines for British television. He lived for a while in Phnom Penh, working on Cambodia's first-ever soap opera and doing freelance screenwriting in his spare time.
While researching material for a film adaptation of a short story by British sci-fi writer Jeff Noon, Smith stumbled across the real-life case of "Rostov Ripper" Andrei Chikkatilo, a Russian serial killer who murdered more than 60 women and children in the 1980s. Chikkatilo's killing spree went unchecked for nearly 13 years, largely because Soviet officials refused to admit that crime existed in their perfect state. Intrigued, Smith recognized the potential of this concept as a work of fiction and worked up a script "treatment." His agent, however, suggested the material would be better showcased in a novel.
The result was Child 44, a gripping crime thriller about a Soviet policeman determined to stop a child serial killer his superiors won't even admit exists. Smith upped the action ante by setting the story in the Stalinist era of the 1950s, a period when opposing the state could cost you your life. And, in MGB officer Leo Stepanovich Demidov, he created the most fascinating Russian detective since Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko.
Child 44 became the object of an intense bidding war at the 2007 London Book Fair. (The buzz only increased when director Ridley Scott bought the film rights.) But the book proved worthy of its hype, garnering glowing reviews on its publication in the spring of 2008. Scott Turow (no slouch in the thriller department himself) proclaimed, "Child 44 is a remarkable debut novel -- inventive, edgy and relentlessly gripping from the first page to the last."

Good To Know

  • "One of my first jobs was working in a sports complex, and I had to fill up all the vending machines. It was boring work and lonely, carrying boxes of Mars Bars down very long, fluorescent-lit corridors. But a moment sticks out. I was restocking a machine when a young boy, maybe five years old, approached me and asked if he could have a chocolate bar. I told him they were for sale: he needed to buy one. He thought about this very seriously for a while, ran off, and came back five minutes later with a conker [horse chestnut]. He honestly believed this was a fair exchange. I guess it must have had some value to him. Anyway, I gave him the chocolate bar for free. It wasn't mine, I suppose, to give away, but it made a dull day a little brighter."
  • "My Swedish grandparents used to be beekeepers. They made the best honey I've ever tasted. I spent my summer holidays living on their farm. It was a wonderful place to spend a summer. My parents, now retired, live on a small farm -- a different farm -- near the sea in the South of Sweden. So now I have another place to retreat from the world. They're not beekeepers though."
  • "I like running, although I suffer from a problem with my knees. They slide out of position, which has caused me some problems recently. If anyone out there can help, I'd be more than happy to hear suggestions. Hours of physiotherapy haven't really worked."

  • Tom Rob Smith on his research:


    Well, this is undoubtedly one of the heaviest books I've read in a while.  I was holding my breath through much of it, finding my muscles tensed as the action was building, and reaching for my drink on more than one exciting occasion!  This book is true to all the hype.  It's an old-school thriller and suspense novel filled with every sort of twist and turn that will keep you begging for the end resolution!  I can't say enough good things about it.

    Written about a time of transition in modern Russia, it is resplendent in detail about the State Security Service and its terror tactics.  Such terrorizing methods cause not only the general public to be held psychologically captive to the government, but also the service officers themselves.  This cyclical reign of terror and paranoia is beautifully rendered in "Child 44" with one under officer, Vasili, making it his life's mission to destroy his over officer, Leo. 

    This is a story about a Russia which insists that crime does not exist in its perfect society, and that those who say it does must be part of a Western conspiracy.  While Leo strives to bring a child murderer to justice, Vasili is driven to destroy Leo at all costs.  The two men and their goals drive the story at a break-neck speed.

    Leo's wife, Raisa, is a fantastic character and my favorite.  She's a perfect mix of the feisty and intelligent female.  She's come to her marriage under less than forthright circumstances and the story builds around the relationship of the two partners as they work together to survive, as well as solve the murder mystery.  I'm looking forward to getting to know her better in the other books in this series.

    I became addicted to the action and tension in this novel!  Could hardly put it down and found myself reading it in doses of 150 pages at a time.  I found it pretty daunting when Grand Central first sent me three books written by Smith about Leo Demidov, but now I'm delighted.  Can't wait to read the other two volumes.  Demidov is now my new favorite detective.  

    It's not difficult to see why "Child 44" has won so many awards.  It is a brilliant novel of suspense.  I couldn't see the ending coming at all--it was a shocker!

    You'll love this book if you like authors such as Nelson DeMille and John le Carre.  Smith is a stand alone author.  He's nothing short of amazing!

    5 stars plus!!                                      Deborah/TheBookishDame



    I absolutely loved reading this book last year. A fabulous read and I really need to read the others in this series. I will agree that this keep me on the edge of my seat as well. A great read and great review!!



    Thank you, Kimberlee. I've started the next book and it's as menacing as this one. Such a brilliant author!

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