Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: CHILD 44, Tom Rob Smith

Child 44Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy, is this book ever bleak. It starts with a pair of starving Russian children trying to hunt down and kill a fellow villager's cat for food and just gets darker from there. But hey, it's Soviet Russia in the 50's, what do you expect? Rainbows and unicorns?

Leo Demidov is the perfect State Security agent, arresting and participating in the torture, conviction and execution of supposed "Enemies of the State". But in the nightmare that is Stalinist Russia, that could be anyone. Leo's zeal and loyalty aren't enough to save him from the machinations of a ruthless and sadistic rival who wants nothing more in the world than to see Leo suffer. Disgraced and exiled, with even more awful punishments hanging over his head and the heads of his family, Leo begins to investigate a common thread he sees in the horrific murders of several children. But the State takes it as an article of faith that there is no crime in the Worker's Paradise. To pursue a contrary truth is blasphemy of the worst kind, punishable by the worst kind of death.

Tom Rob Smith is brilliant at making you feel the constant sense of dread, insecurity, and paranoia that his characters feel every single day of their lives. This makes the book almost unbearably suspenseful. It keeps you absorbed, wanting desperately to know what's going to happen next, but half-terrified to find out. A definite winner.

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Gerard Saylor said...

This is a good book. But, I was annoyed by the convenient linking of characters at the end. That was too far-fetched for me.

Gerard Saylor said...

I forgot to say: Smith has a neat look from the inside of a guy who is reviled by most everyone and never knew. Shocked to find his beautiful wife dated and subsequently married him due to fear.

I have not read the follow-up.

Lollee said...

I had to go to Amazon and download the Kindle edition at 2am and spend the rest of the night reading this book rather than getting much needed sleep. The twist at the end was a bit too pat but otherwise a truly engrossing book.

Gerard said...

I just remembered that I tried to contact the author to do a video interview (via phone) but never heard back.