Child 44

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Press:Grand Central Publishing Grand Central Publishing (April 29, 2008)
Publication Date:2008-4-29
ISBN:9780446402385
Author Name:Tom Rob Smith
Pages:448
Language:English

Content

A propulsive, relentless page-turner.A terrifying evocation of a paranoid world where no one can be trusted.A surprising, unexpected story of love and family, of hope and resilience.CHILD 44 is a thriller unlike any you have ever read."There is no crime."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 from its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force.
And no MGB 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 murderer-much less a serial killer-is in their midst.
Exiled from his home, with only his wife, Raisa, remaining at his side, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the MBG to find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists.Tom Rob Smith graduated from Cambridge in 2001 and lives in London.
Child 44 is his first novel.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 
Set in the Soviet Union in 1953, 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.
Rights sold in more than 20 countries.
(May) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the workers’ paradise of Stalin’s Russia, crime cannot exist. 
Loyal, hardworking citizens will have all their needs met by the state, making crime unnecessary.
The one exception is political crime, and MGB (State Security) officer Leo Demidov works long hours arresting people and delivering them to dreaded Lubyanka Prison.
Deeply patriotic, but covetous of the perks of his position, Leo knows that many of the people he arrests are innocent, and he knows that he could suffer a similar fate.
He does, almost, when office politics, MGB style, dictate his transfer to the lowly militia in a small city hundreds of miles east of Moscow.
There he discovers that a serial killer is preying on children in cities along the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
Having lost almost everything, Leo seeks redemption by hunting the killer, but his effort makes him a high-profile enemy of the state (acknowledging that a serial killer could exist in the USSR is tantamount to treason).
Child 44 powerfully personalizes the Orwellian horrors of life in Stalin’s Russia.
Almost every page echoes Hobbes’ description of the life of man: “nasty, brutish, and short.” First-novelist Smith’s pacing is relentless; readers wanting to put the book down for a brief rest may find themselves persevering regardless.
Expect the same kind of critical acclaim for this compelling tale that greeted the publication of Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park (1981) more than 25 years ago.
Like most first novels, Smith’s debut isn’t perfect, but it’s a very, very good read.
Don’t miss it.
--Thomas Gaughan

Review

"This is a truly remarkable debut novel. 
CHILD 44 is a rare blend of great insight, excellent writing, and a refreshingly original story.
Favorable comparisons to Gorky Park are inevitable, but CHILD 44 is in a class of its own." (Nelson DeMille, NY TIMES bestselling author of WILD FIRE)"An amazing debut-rich, different, fully formed, mature .
.
.
and thrilling." (Lee Child, NY TIMES bestselling author of BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE)"CHILD 44 is a remarkable debut novel-inventive, edgy and relentlessly gripping from the first page to the last." (Scott Turow)"Achingly suspenseful, full of feeling and the twists and turns that one expects from le Carré at his best, CHILD 44 is a tale as fierce as any Russian wolf.
It grabs you by the throat and never lets you go." (Robert Towne, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of CHINATOWN)"CHILD 44 telegraphs the talent and class of its writer from its opening pages, transporting you back to the darkest days of postwar Soviet Russia with assured efficiency and ruthlessly drawing you into its richly atmospheric and engrossing tale." (Raymond Khoury, NY TIMES bestselling author of THE LAST TEMPLAR and SANCTUARY)

About the Author

Tom Rob Smith is a 28-year-old screenwriter. 
He graduated from Cambridge in 2001.
CHILD 44 is his first novel.

Tags

Literature & Fiction,British & Irish,Historical,Genre Fiction,Historical,Thrillers,Contemporary



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Comment

 
 

Comment List (Total:16)

  •     Writing style is unusual. I don't know as I like the shifting between scenes in time and place. Leaves the reader having to make connections that should be spelled out better.
  •     Child 44 is a book I never would have picked up on my own. It's this month's book club selection. When I began reading it, I had no knowledge of what I might be getting into or even what the book was about. The first chapter turned my stomach, painting a picture of starvation, bitter cold and fear in 1933 Russia. Honestly, I thought I was headed for a twisted version of The Hunger Games.But I hung in there. The story fast forwards twenty years. Leo is a rising star in the MGB, the state security force. He's assigned to look into the death of child, whose family insists he was murdered. The communist state brushes the child's death off as an accident. Leo is a war hero, who loves his country, is loyal and follows the state party line. His wife Raisa, is a teacher who goes along with the state as a way to survive. When Leo discovers that a serial killer is on the loose, he and Raisa go against the state and set out to find the criminal.Child 44 is full of twists and turns. It's a page turner, so be prepared. What struck me the most however, is the range of emotion that this story could evoke. The evil torture of the government on its citizens disgusted me. The cunning of a killer toward children made me cringe. And the tenderness of the love story between Leo and Raisa, brought tears to my eyes.What a book can make me feel is the gauge I use to rate a story. After the first ten pages, I never thought I could make it through this book. Since it's so rare that I don't finish a book, I kept going. Child 44 is a wonderfully written thriller. The story's "Ah Hah" moment is perfectly placed, releasing some of the tension, but not revealing all the answers the reader is anxious to learn. Mr. Smith's writing style is superb. The subject matter, Stalinist Russia, is a tough one especially for someone like me, who has always lived in a free society. Child 44 opened my eyes to the reality of life in a communist state in the 1950's.And that's what I love about book club. I'm forced to go outside my comfort zone and learn something new, which is a good thing.
  •     A dark, Russian mystery that takes the reader into a troubled past. Soviet bureaucracy is at its worst when a young detective is trying to solve a crime that no one believes is happening. Soviet Russia is a perfect society where crimes against innocent children are not supposed to occur. But, of course, it does. This book is not light reading. It is heavy and thought provoking. It is worth reading twice.
  •     It's been a long time since I've had a book I couldn't put down. Excellent plot and compelling settings kept the story rolling along.
  •     It's a great accomplishment to have turned around what started as such a grim story into a triumphal conclusion. Bravo!
  •     This novel was brilliantly written. Enjoyed every single flowing sentence. It get me up late in the evening, hard to put down. Highly recommended
  •     A well written book, very spell binding and a must read
  •     Tom Rob Smith's novel is well written and thought out. The characters are developed with a few twists in the story on the way.
  •     Kind of depressing put it down after 40 pages.
  •     This book perfectly captures the paranoia and propaganda of counties controlled by communist parties, such as Russia and PR China.I was surprised by the many similarities of these two countries. Even today, I still hear people say that they missed Chairman Mao's time, because of the low crime rate. What a joke!I was born after all of the dark days of China and was raised by my grandparents. So many surviving stories told by my grandparents during their struggle under the controls of Mao's China. For instance, the stories about being unable to trust anyone, including your direct family members. My grandma had been asked to denounce my grandfather directly by the communist party officer after my grandfather was arrested for the crime of being an anti revolutionary. His name was cleared a few years before I was born which was in 70's.If you want to understand the emotional struggles of these times, read the book.If you want to read a good thriller about a serial killer, read this book as well.Highly recommend!
  •     Keeps you on the edge of your seat with unexpected twists and turns. The kind of book that you're reading in every spare moment just to see what happens next.
  •     Dark and twisty. Made me appreciate the freedoms we have.
  •     This is a novel with sloppy history, poorly crafted crime plot and a trivial love story. It was not worth the time. The movie is even worse.
  •     I first saw the movie based on Child 44. Intrigued, I wanted to read the book. So glad I did--great story, lots of suspense, a real page turner. I enjoy historical fiction, because I want to learn something new as I'm enjoying a story. I was born before Stalin's death and grew up during the Cold War, a very fearful time I well remember as a child. Most students of history know about the horrid days of Stalin's USSR--but to really understand the terror, it takes a book that tells a story of realistic characters that flesh out what those times were really like. Child 44 is a book that does that well. I'll be purchasing the other two books in the series, knowing that the era of Nikita Khrushchev has begun at the end of Child 44. Highly recommend!!!
  •     This was a fascinating crime story, set in Communist Russia in the 1950s. A young boy is found dead by the railroad tracks. The body has been disfigured in a way that no train accident could account for. His parents demand that the authorities investigate the death as a murder. But, in Communist Russia, there is no 'crime', as any deviant behavior on the part of one of the citizens would be seen as a failure of the Communist ideal. So the details of the death are hidden, the death ruled an accident, and the citizens entreated to teach their children to stay away from the tracks. State investigator Leo Demidov is assigned the duty of informing the parents of the State's ruling, and moving on. But, when other bodies start being discovered, some distance from each other but all along the railroad line, Demidov becomes convinced there is a serial killer on the loose. But, if he investigates he risks his career, and possibly the lives of himself and his family as 'dissidents'. Fast-paced, lots of action, and well-developed characters. Can't wait to read the next one in the series!
  •     One of the best works of fiction I've read in a long time; particularly appealing to a certain audience because of it's accurate portrayal of live in the Soviet Union.

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