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Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 (2008)

by Tom Rob Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Leo Demidov (1)

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English (223)  Dutch (8)  German (5)  Spanish (5)  Swedish (3)  French (2)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (2)  All (250)
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Leo Demidov was an investigator for the MGB, State Security during the waning years of the Stalin era. Positions with the organization are tenuous since action or inaction which brings embarrassment to the Communist Party can result in your dismissal, transfer to a forced labor camp, or execution.

When a political prisoner escapes under Leo's watch, he is placed in an untenable position--save his position by falsely accusing Raisa, his beautiful wife of treason. When he refuses, Leo is stripped of his position and all of its privileges and the couple are sent to a small village west of the Ural Mts and Leo reassigned to an entry position with the local militia.

When Leo discovers the nude body of a young woman killed in a similar manner as a young boy in Moscow, which he originally refused to label as a murder, he believes an investigation is warranted. However, this could be difficult since any investigation would cast aspersions on the State that failed to allow a murder in an alleged Utopian society. Raisa joins Leo investigating the serial murders in Moscow and surrounding villages, an investigation which will take Leo into a past that he ran away from.

This historical thriller is the first novel I have read by Tom Rob Smith and it won't be my last. The author created a realistic depiction of life under an oppressive communistic regime. I was enthralled accompanying Leo in his investigation as he used his knowledge of state security procedures to avoid detection. Fans of Martin Cruz Smith's novels would enjoy the Child 44 trilogy. ( )
  John_Warner | Apr 26, 2017 |
Sometimes you have to give a book second chans. I started to read the book last year but never finished it but a couple of days ago I thought "what the hell" I want to know the ending and I borrowed the book from the library again to pick up where I left it. I'm glad I did it since the book actually is quite good. So, sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment to read a book... ( )
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
Couldn't put this down. A serial killer thriller with a difference. ( )
  angelaoatham | Feb 21, 2017 |
Such a fantastic book, I didn't want it to end. Intriguing story, great characterisation, great tension. ( )
  AnnGirdharry | Feb 16, 2017 |
A good thriller should have believable characters, a tense and engaging narrative and a sensible plot. Child 44 has the checked the box for the first two but missed the third.

The ending ( which I will not spoil ) seemed both rushed and implausible.

The first 90% of the book was engaging and even riveting. The main character was actually a country, namely the Soviet Union around the time of the death of Stalin.

Tom Rob Smith does a terrific and really interesting job of detailing life in a totalitarian state. Lives are monitored, directed and very often destroyed by forces remote and unreachable by the average citizen. Paranoia is a virus that affects every single citizen including the man at the top, Joseph Stalin. The key to survival ? Don't stand out. Don't be remarkable in any way as that makes you a potential target for informers and accusers of all stripes.

In this environment we have a state-security officer who stumbles upon a series of child murders after being demoted and disgraced and then is compelled to solve them in a country where the solution to these monstrous crimes would only be viewed as a horrendous embarrassment because, after all, this is a workers paradise and has no crime, therefore, how can such an awful series of murders even happen in such a place ?

The central character must try to solve these serial child murders not only without the help of any authorities but risking discovery by those authorities and a trip to Siberia or worse.

It's an intriguing premise and the author does a good job for the most part. I really enjoyed this book and especially its central characters. I read it straight through and could not wait to find out what was going to happen next.

Others may disagree but in my opinion, the ending was rushed, implausible and a great disappointment to me. In fairness to the author, it might have just been my sadness at having to say goodbye to his wonderful cast of characters. On balance, it was a great read, or in my case a great listen, as I "read" the audiobook by way of a very good narrator.

P.s. The book is loosely based on a real-life person. You can read about him on Wikipedia. Just google: "russian serial killers" and you should be able to pick him out fairly quickly. I don't think reading the Wikipedia entry, which I did while reading the book, will spoil anything, it didn't for me.

Be forewarned that the real-life story is gruesome, even by serial killer standards and you may find it hard to read. Indeed the subject matter of Child 44 is not for the squeamish though I think the author thankfully ... mostly ... uses restraint when describing the "gory details". ( )
  blnq | Jan 15, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 223 (next | show all)
On Page 275 of his tightly woven debut novel, “Child 44,” Tom Rob Smith reveals what the title means. The moment is a shocker — but its full effects can be felt only if you’ve read the 274 pages that precede it. This book is much too densely, ingeniously plotted for its secrets to be accessible via shortcut. ...


» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Rob Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bratbjerg Hansen, PoulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Correa, Beatriz HortaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garavaglia, AnnalisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Güneş, GülizTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karjalainen, HeikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krogstad, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pardoen, IrvingTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From CD Case: "Stalin's Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals.

But in this society, millions do live in fear...of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty--owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time--sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions. Defending the system for its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force. And no MBG officer is more courageous, conscientious, or idealistic than Leo Demidov.

A war hero with a beautiful wife, Leo lives in relative luxury in Moscow, even providing a decent apartment for his parents. His only ambition has been to serve his country. For this greater good, he has arrested and interrogated.

Then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal--a murderer--is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, his world turned upside down, and every belief he's ever held shattered. The only way to save his life and the lives of his family is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murder--much less a serial killer--is in their midst. Exiled from his home, with only his wife remaining at his side, Leo must find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446402389, Hardcover)

If all that Tom Rob Smith had done was to re-create Stalinist Russia, with all its double-speak hypocrisy, he would have written a worthwhile novel. He did so much more than that in Child 44, a frightening, chilling, almost unbelievable horror story about the very worst that Stalin's henchmen could manage. In this worker's paradise, superior in every way to the decadent West, the citizen's needs are met: health care, food, shelter, security. All one must offer in exchange are work and loyalty to the State. Leo Demidov is a believer, a former war hero who loves his country and wants only to serve it well. He puts contradictions out of his mind and carries on. Until something happens that he cannot ignore. A serial killer of children is on the loose, and the State cannot admit it.

To admit that such a murderer is committing these crimes is itself a crime against the State. Instead of coming to terms with it, the State's official position is that it is merely coincidental that children have been found dead, perhaps from accidents near the railroad tracks, perhaps from a person deemed insane, or, worse still, homosexual. But why does each victim have his or her stomach excised, a string around the ankle, and a mouth full of dirt? Coincidence? Leo, in disgrace and exiled to a country village, doesn't think so. How can he prove it when he is being pursued like a common criminal himself? He and his wife, Raisa, set out to find the killer. The revelations that follow are jaw-dropping and the suspense doesn't let up. This is a debut novel worth reading. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:26:19 -0400)

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"Robert Harris meets Gorky Park in Child 44, Tom Rob Smith's stunning thriller--sure to be one of the most talked about debut novels of the year"--Provided by the publisher.

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