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Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 (original 2008; edition 2011)

by Tom Rob Smith

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3,5492451,491 (3.98)444
Title:Child 44
Authors:Tom Rob Smith
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 480 pages

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Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (2008)


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English (220)  Dutch (7)  Spanish (5)  German (5)  Swedish (3)  French (2)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (2)  All (246)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
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 |
Mivue coming out April 2015
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
Brilliant page-turner! Had no idea it was going to be so thrilling, a great story, on to the next book in the series.... ( )
  APopova | Jan 2, 2017 |
In the words of Emily Dickinson, Child 44 is a brilliantly plotted novel that had me feeling "zero at the bone" many times. From its staggering depiction of Stalinist Russia to the blood-chilling meaning behind its title, Tom Rob Smith's book grabbed me by the throat and refused to turn me loose. The devastating things Stalin's government did to the minds and bodies of its people almost beggars belief, and I have to admit that I did read this book in small sips until about the two-thirds mark simply because I wasn't quite in the mood for such a depressing book. The sips may have been small, but they were very frequent because Smith knows how to tell a tale, and once Demidov's investigation hits its stride, there was no way I could put Child 44 down.

However, this isn't merely a nose-to-the-window depiction of an era and an absorbing murder mystery. Smith's characterization is superb. Through the course of the book, Leo Demidov loses his innocence and grows up. His wife Raisa later shows depths undreamt of when readers first met her. The differences between city folk and country folk give readers hope for humanity, and there's a little girl named Nadya, who was probably my favorite character in the entire novel.

Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 made me say "Wow!" more than once while reading it, and I'm certainly looking forward to continuing Leo's story in the rest of the trilogy. ( )
  cathyskye | Dec 27, 2016 |
The whole time I was reading this book I kept thinking it would be better if it were about Arkady Renko.

Also, the whole endgame between cop and killer was downright ludicrous. It stretched the thin plot beyond repair and far into the realm of disbelief. Everything not about the killer was pretty decent though and showed how grim and shitty the USSR was post-war. ( )
  Evan_Edlund | Nov 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (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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