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Child 44

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"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"--Page 4 of cover.

Customer Review Snapshot

4.1 out of 5 stars
137 total reviews
5 stars
51
4 stars
63
3 stars
15
2 stars
5
1 star
3
Most helpful positive review
This is Russia in the early 1950s, the last years of Stalin's life. A monster is on the loose and this heinous criminal is preying on children. The government does not understand or believe in serial killers, this cannot happen in their perfect society, so after each horrific crime, some poor soul is rounded up, tried and executed. The killer continues, unabated, until a young police investigator finally pieces it together but in an unexpected twist the officer's life quickly spins out control and he becomes a fugitive. This is thriller writing at it's very best. You will find yourself turning pages with a giddy mixture of anticipation and fear!

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"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"--Page 4 of cover. The New York Times bestselling novel that inspired the major motion picture starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace

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.

Specifications

Series Title
The Child 44 Trilogy
Publisher
Grand Central Publishing
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
480
Author
Tom Rob Smith
ISBN-13
9781455561438
Publication Date
March, 2015
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.00 x 5.25 x 1.25 Inches
ISBN-10
1455561436

Customer Reviews

5 stars
51
4 stars
63
3 stars
15
2 stars
5
1 star
3
Most helpful positive review
6 customers found this helpful
This is Russia in the ...
This is Russia in the early 1950s, the last years of Stalin's life. A monster is on the loose and this heinous criminal is preying on children. The government does not understand or believe in serial killers, this cannot happen in their perfect society, so after each horrific crime, some poor soul is rounded up, tried and executed. The killer continues, unabated, until a young police investigator finally pieces it together but in an unexpected twist the officer's life quickly spins out control and he becomes a fugitive. This is thriller writing at it's very best. You will find yourself turning pages with a giddy mixture of anticipation and fear!
Most helpful negative review
1 customers found this helpful
Child 44 by Tom Rob Sm...
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith is a very popular book. You can read glowing reviews of it at dovegreyreader and therapsheet. (These are both excellent sites that you should check out anyway.) Janet Maslin's review at the Times is more in line with my own. I'll probably never get on the list for free review copies because of this, but I didn't like it. Not at all. The book starts with a graphic scene detailing the torturous killing of a cat. (Many of you may already hate it, but stay with me, it gets worse.) We're in Stalinist Russia during the winter, and food shortages have gotten so bad that the rare sighting of a house cat is cause to get out your snares. The story really begins when one of two boys, brothers, is hit on the head and dragged into the woods. When the surviving brother tells his mother, she knows that she'll never see her son again, that he has become food for some man driven to desperation by hunger. Next chapter, it's 2o years later and we're off to Moscow! Already the book reads like a movie. (The movie rights were bought before the book hit the stands, and the author is a screenwriter.) This is a big problem for the book in my view. Too much of the plot is written for the screen, which is fine for a screenplay, but not for a novel. The plot jumps back and forth all over Russia as we follow the detective then the killer, who in this case is killing children throughout the country. The big idea/marketing gimmick is that in Stalinist Russia there can be no murder because there is no motive for it in a classless society. So the detective, Leo Demidov, cannot investigate a murder without committing a crime against the state. This is an interesting idea and in the hands of a novelist might produce an interesting novel. In the hands of screen writer it might produce an interesting screenplay. However, in the hands of a screen writer it can only produce an airplane book. (Airplane book: n, book suitable for passing the time on a flight from San Francisco to Chicago or someplace further away.) Once the opening scenes have passed, the novel settles into an entertaining pace, more of a procedural than a whodunit. We follow Leo and his wife as they suffer at the hands of Leo's rival Vasili. Leo and Vasili both work for the MGB which is in charge of investigating internal cases of sedition by tracking down traitors, who are all innocent citizens in this case caught up in Stalin's purges of the 1940's and 50's. It's very difficult to generate much sympathy for Leo once the tables are turned and he becomes a suspect. He has spent so much of the novel torturing and killing innocent people, how can we now start rooting for him? You have to make the killer and Leo's rival really awful, even if this means graphic scenes of violence. Leo almost stumbles on the case of a serial killer who targets children and has killed over 40 by the time Leo discovers him. Leo is forced out of the MGB by Vasili, so he must continue his investigations as an outsider with the help of his wife Raisa and a few other people he meets along the way. Frankly, I just don't believe this would have been possible in the real Stalinist Russia. There was a real serial killer in Russia who spent several decades murdering children, but there was no rogue cop capable of working outside the system to catch him. In fact, the real killer operated in the 1970's and 80's long after the end of the Stalinist era and was eventually captured after several botched police investigations and a very large police manhunt. Leo and Raisa are eventually sent to a gulag, but along the way the novel turns into Indiana Jones and the Trans-Siberian Express. A series of death defying escapes and wild plot twists follow. I won't detail them here because you may be one of the millions who'll enjoy this book, but I will say that the plot twist on page 400 left me mumbling "oh please" out loud. And not in a good way. We are expected to believe that the killer's ridiculous reason for committing so many murders, sending a message to his brother, actually turned out to work. It's the sort of twist that can be kind of fun in a movie, if you don't spend much time thinking about it, but if you're someone who cares too much about their brain to "check it at the door" you'll be disappointed at least. I could go on, and on, and on, but what would be the point. If you've read this far you get the idea. Google the book and every other review you'll find but one will have high praise for it. I stand almost alone in giving Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith two out of five stars. Read at your own risk. The book has been hyped, but you have been warned.
Most helpful positive review
6 customers found this helpful
This is Russia in the ...
This is Russia in the early 1950s, the last years of Stalin's life. A monster is on the loose and this heinous criminal is preying on children. The government does not understand or believe in serial killers, this cannot happen in their perfect society, so after each horrific crime, some poor soul is rounded up, tried and executed. The killer continues, unabated, until a young police investigator finally pieces it together but in an unexpected twist the officer's life quickly spins out control and he becomes a fugitive. This is thriller writing at it's very best. You will find yourself turning pages with a giddy mixture of anticipation and fear!
Most helpful negative review
1 customers found this helpful
Child 44 by Tom Rob Sm...
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith is a very popular book. You can read glowing reviews of it at dovegreyreader and therapsheet. (These are both excellent sites that you should check out anyway.) Janet Maslin's review at the Times is more in line with my own. I'll probably never get on the list for free review copies because of this, but I didn't like it. Not at all. The book starts with a graphic scene detailing the torturous killing of a cat. (Many of you may already hate it, but stay with me, it gets worse.) We're in Stalinist Russia during the winter, and food shortages have gotten so bad that the rare sighting of a house cat is cause to get out your snares. The story really begins when one of two boys, brothers, is hit on the head and dragged into the woods. When the surviving brother tells his mother, she knows that she'll never see her son again, that he has become food for some man driven to desperation by hunger. Next chapter, it's 2o years later and we're off to Moscow! Already the book reads like a movie. (The movie rights were bought before the book hit the stands, and the author is a screenwriter.) This is a big problem for the book in my view. Too much of the plot is written for the screen, which is fine for a screenplay, but not for a novel. The plot jumps back and forth all over Russia as we follow the detective then the killer, who in this case is killing children throughout the country. The big idea/marketing gimmick is that in Stalinist Russia there can be no murder because there is no motive for it in a classless society. So the detective, Leo Demidov, cannot investigate a murder without committing a crime against the state. This is an interesting idea and in the hands of a novelist might produce an interesting novel. In the hands of screen writer it might produce an interesting screenplay. However, in the hands of a screen writer it can only produce an airplane book. (Airplane book: n, book suitable for passing the time on a flight from San Francisco to Chicago or someplace further away.) Once the opening scenes have passed, the novel settles into an entertaining pace, more of a procedural than a whodunit. We follow Leo and his wife as they suffer at the hands of Leo's rival Vasili. Leo and Vasili both work for the MGB which is in charge of investigating internal cases of sedition by tracking down traitors, who are all innocent citizens in this case caught up in Stalin's purges of the 1940's and 50's. It's very difficult to generate much sympathy for Leo once the tables are turned and he becomes a suspect. He has spent so much of the novel torturing and killing innocent people, how can we now start rooting for him? You have to make the killer and Leo's rival really awful, even if this means graphic scenes of violence. Leo almost stumbles on the case of a serial killer who targets children and has killed over 40 by the time Leo discovers him. Leo is forced out of the MGB by Vasili, so he must continue his investigations as an outsider with the help of his wife Raisa and a few other people he meets along the way. Frankly, I just don't believe this would have been possible in the real Stalinist Russia. There was a real serial killer in Russia who spent several decades murdering children, but there was no rogue cop capable of working outside the system to catch him. In fact, the real killer operated in the 1970's and 80's long after the end of the Stalinist era and was eventually captured after several botched police investigations and a very large police manhunt. Leo and Raisa are eventually sent to a gulag, but along the way the novel turns into Indiana Jones and the Trans-Siberian Express. A series of death defying escapes and wild plot twists follow. I won't detail them here because you may be one of the millions who'll enjoy this book, but I will say that the plot twist on page 400 left me mumbling "oh please" out loud. And not in a good way. We are expected to believe that the killer's ridiculous reason for committing so many murders, sending a message to his brother, actually turned out to work. It's the sort of twist that can be kind of fun in a movie, if you don't spend much time thinking about it, but if you're someone who cares too much about their brain to "check it at the door" you'll be disappointed at least. I could go on, and on, and on, but what would be the point. If you've read this far you get the idea. Google the book and every other review you'll find but one will have high praise for it. I stand almost alone in giving Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith two out of five stars. Read at your own risk. The book has been hyped, but you have been warned.
1-5 of 137 reviews

This is Russia in the ...

This is Russia in the early 1950s, the last years of Stalin's life. A monster is on the loose and this heinous criminal is preying on children. The government does not understand or believe in serial killers, this cannot happen in their perfect society, so after each horrific crime, some poor soul is rounded up, tried and executed. The killer continues, unabated, until a young police investigator finally pieces it together but in an unexpected twist the officer's life quickly spins out control and he becomes a fugitive. This is thriller writing at it's very best. You will find yourself turning pages with a giddy mixture of anticipation and fear!

Wow! What a book. This...

Wow! What a book. This is not a book I would ever have chosen for myself, as for some reason it had just never really caught my eye. However, I was lucky enough to be sent a freebie and I thought it was an absolutely fantastic read. Leo Demidov is an MGB agent in 1950s Russia. Stalin's regime is unforgiving and brutal, and many people are executed or sentenced to hard labour for the merest of crimes (or no crime at all). Leo is not a bad man, but he's an officer of the state and is happy to do whatever is necessary to comply with their rules, until the murder of a child makes him reconsider his position. The list of 44 facts about the regime at the end of the book makes for interesting and extremely shocking reading. It's hard to imagine how people lived in such fear. The author brought this across very well in this book and has created some great characters in Leo and his wife, Raisa. This is a fast paced thriller, with some amazing twists. The first half of the book spends a lot of time setting the scene. This was never boring and it kept me interested, but I did wonder a few times how and when the main story was going to kick in. And then suddenly it did and it all pulled together into a tight and very well-plotted storyline. I'm very eager now to get onto the second book in the trilogy, The Secret Speech. I highly recommend Child 44 if you like a really good thriller.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Sm...

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith was one of the best books I have read within the last year. The story takes place during the early 1950s in Stalin's USSR. Leo Demidov, an MGB agent initially loyal to the state, becomes infatuated with a string of child murders that are seemingly being committed by the same person all over southern Russia. Invesigating these murders changes Leo's life in more ways than he could ever imagine. He is struggling with a difficult marriage, a coworker's vendetta, and his own tragic past. He discovers his true identity by hunting this brutal killer. The story is incredibly suspenseful and the characters are very intriguing. Smith's research was impeccable as you feel transported to this horrible time in Communist Russia. Overall, this is a great book by an up and coming young author. I look forward to reading his second book, The Secret Speech.

Rating: 4* of five Th...

Rating: 4* of five The Book Report: In the Socialist Worker's Paradise that is 1953 Russia, There Is No Crime. (Sorry, I know that all the caps are like having your lashes tweezed, but this is the Soviet Union we're talking about, and everything is A Slogan.) The proletariat is blissfully free of the Capitalist Curse Called Crime. They're more afraid of the State than they are each other. With good reason. There are traitors, informants, everywhere. Even in your own bed, you are never safe from the danger of being outed as a bad Socialist with the least, most offhand criticism of the Paradise. And death comes, whether quickly or slowly, to those whom the Cthulhu of the State Security apparatus notices. Leo Demidov, then, shouldn't have a job as a criminal investigator. In fact, he doesn't. He's a well-rewarded apparatchik who, in the course of interrogating his fellow citizens, notices a disturbing pattern of murders...which do not officially exist...taking place with no effort, or a completely inadequate effort, being made to see the forest for the trees. Leo's life changes, from privileged servant of the regime to lone wolf investigator to vengeful assassin, over the course of the story. His solution to the crimes being committed is chilling in its outlines and satisfying in its conclusion. My Review: I don't believe I've ever read so much text in italics before, and I don't think I've ever read a thriller with so little direct action before, either. The dialogue, what little there is of it, is italicized; there are few places where anyone addresses anyone else for more than a sentence or two. Husband Leo and wife Raisa have one--that's all, one--intimate conversation, which is a new low count in my thriller reading. But what a wallop this book packs! I can't imagine the agonies of researching and writing such a grisly book, given that most writers are sensitive flowers whose emotional lives are very much up on the surface of their lives. Tom Rob Smith wrote this awful book about awful people doing awful things in an awful country to amuse and entertain us. He succeeds in this, though sometimes I wanted to wash my eyes out with Clorox. The main character, Leo, is a nasty apparatchik in the State Security forces under Stalin. He's a man who has put his sense of rightness, fairness and justice into the hands of vile, unworthy leaders, and turned off his moral compass. The reasons that it turns back on, and the results of Leo's single-minded pursuit of a child murderer, are...gosh...they're *right* and yet, given the 400pp we've spent being plunged into foul, icy sewage, again and again, they're weak tea. Leo's past leads him to a future that I can't call bright, but at least he's able to do the right thing sometimes. I don't think this book is for everyone, but I think it's really, really interesting and quite exciting and well worth the attention of the non-squeamish.

In Auckland over the l...

In Auckland over the last week or so I didn't take a book with me which almost is as distressing as not having my beloved iPhone. Thankfully the darling Kelly had a collection close to the National Library and she offered one nondescript looking paperback and duly I set about reading it. And what a book! Apparently this is the first such novel by Tom Rob Smith (yep, that's his name) and if you were to get a following, this would be the way to do so. I haven't had the inclination of yet to find out if he has done any others, but it will come to mind next time I am in the library. The story is set in 1950s Russia, a country still recovering and revelling in the victory of the Great Patriotic War and follows a hero from the conflict who is a man on the up and up in the MGB. For anyone who follows Communism in its purest form, this book tells it like it is...or was. Leo, the agent is asked to deal with an issue where a fellow agent's family are upset at the State's investigation into the death of their son. They claim murder, and despite the disembowelment and lack of clothes, the State cannot possibly admit to any form of crime on their watch and report it as an unfortunate accident involving a train. Case closed. However, due to a series of smaller unrelated incidences, and a power struggle within the MGB, Leo is then asked to investigate his own wife and denounce her, which would subject her to either death, or worse, 25 years in the Gulags. What follows is a shocking portrayal of the paranoia that gripped the people during the Stalin-ist era and Leo and his wife flee to outback Russia and are forced to live the life of peasants. You would think that was enough of a story? Wrong. Leo stumbles upon another disemboweled kid, and another is discovered, and soon enough he and the local Constable have uncovered a nationwide killing spree that the State still refuse to admit to and deal with the issue the best way they know; eliminate those who know. Get it, read it, and love it. A great book, well written (I especially like the way he delivers speech, nice, dark and broody touch) but I have to discredit it somewhere. And it is the last few chapters where it seemed to have succumbed to Hollywood-like script writing. I won't give anything away, but when 90% of the book was chilling and dark, the ending, while somewhat a relief, should have maintained that Communist feel. I later found out this book is based on the killing spree of The Rostov Ripper who killed 52.

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Electrode, Comp-447756904, DC-prod-dfw7, ENV-prod-a, PROF-PROD, VER-30.0.3, SHA-fe0221a6ef49da0ab2505dfeca6fe7a05293b900, CID-aabfee29-c8f-16e66cfc488e9d, Generated: Wed, 13 Nov 2019 22:08:42 GMT