Friday, January 25, 2013

Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith

Summary: 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. (summary and image taken from

My Review: I think that perhaps cutting my mystery teeth on Agatha Christie was a ridiculously bad move.  She ruined me.  One third of the way through the book, and I had figured out the murderer, his motive, and the “big, shocking” reveal I had been told to expect, the one “I’d never see coming”. 

Unfortunately, I suffer from “extreme reader-itis” – that is, a near-crippling inability to put down a book, no matter how terrible it gets.  And trust me, this one was pretty darn bad!  I tried to give credit for this being the author’s debut novel, but there were times in the book that within three paragraphs, three different characters’ internal points of view had been shared, leaving me utterly confused whether these were the points of view as imagined by the protagonist (a truly clueless fellow), or if they were really the points of view of the people he was interacting with.  It was so befuddling.  Coupled with Smith’s style of listing conversations in italics and dashes, it made me feel like the conversations were as convoluted as the points of view.    As for the story itself, it was truly predictable.

However, this story did serve a purpose for me.  It made me resolve to read at least one classical or non-fiction book a month.  I’ve decided I’m to the point in my life that I’m ready to start reading more uplifting and intelligent works … wish me luck!  Easy is just so easy – especially with three kids!

My Rating:  One half star

For the Sensitive Reader: Rough language, descriptions of the murders, this is one to stay away from.

Sum it Up:  Betrayed and disgraced MGB officer is determined to solve a rash of brutal murders throughout Russia, operating outside the parameters of Stalinist society.

1 comment:

Ashley (Marginalia) said...

I'm glad I read this review! I have had this book on my to-read list for a while, but you've described some of my biggest peeves here, so I think I'll pass.


Related Posts with Thumbnails