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The Secret Speech Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio; Unabridged edition (May 19 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600245765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600245763
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 4.4 x 14.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #799,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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 )

"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...a very, very good read. Don't miss it." (Starred BOOKLIST )

"Stellar debut...completely original and absolutely satisfying." (Starred PUBLISHERS WEEKLY )

This is an outstanding book, one of the best I have listened to this year! The author succeeds in recreating the living conditions in Stalinist Russia and weaving a terrifying novel of suspense, intrigue and horror. The resolution at the end of the book is beautifully set up by the various turns of fate that befall the protagonist. This book gave me chills, and it was nearly impossible to break away while listening....Dennis Boutsikaris' performance made me feel like I was living in Stalinist Russia, and I was totally swept away by his work on this audio prduction. (RoadTripAmerica )

*Starred Review* Dennis Boutsikaris expertly conveys the fear and paranoia that permeates Smith's outstanding debut novel of murder in 1950s Stalinist Russia....Using Russian accents to their full advantage, Boutsikaris infuses his characters' dialogue with a deep sense of downtrodden melancholia. (Publishers Weekly )

Looking for un-put-downable suspense, guaranteed to give you chills during the dog days of August? Then Child 44, Tom Rob Smith's dazzling debut novel, enhanced by Dennis Boutsikaris' race-paced, authentically accented performance, is it....As Leo hunts the killer, the MGB hunt Leo, investigator becomes fugitive and the pulse-pounding excitement ratchets up in this transporting thriller-diller. (BookPage Sukey Howard )

"Dennis Boutsikaris's Russian accents are superb. He brings even minor characters to life..." (AudioFile 2009)

About the Author

Tom Rob Smith graduated from Cambridge in 2001 and lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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By Prairie Pal TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Oct. 31 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It would take a powerful piece of writing to surpass Tom Rob Smith's first novel in this series,"Child 44" an absolutely chilling look at the paranoia and horror of life in Joseph Stalin's Russia as seen through the eyes of a member of the secret police. "The Secret Speech" doesn't quite measure up to its predecessor but it is a very good novel nonetheless. It examines the shockwaves that went through the USSR when Stalin was denounced to the 20th Party Congress by Nikita Khrushchev and Russians could contemplate the possibility of a relaxation of the police state. Our secret police hero must confront more crimes from his past and delve into the gulag to find absolution. Well worth reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It would have been hard to top his first novel, which was an excellent book, but this book dwells a bit more on the mundane and frankly less interesting elements of Soviet culture and society. It's still somewhat enjoyable, but the bar was set very high with his first foray, and this book isn't at that level or perhaps even one level below.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jbishop2112 on June 29 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this book having just finished Shalamov's Kolyma Tales. Well, I soon realized it's been a long, long time since I read a page-burner like this... Angels and Demons maybe? I knew right off the top it would be fluffy with the 1.5 line spacing but was willing to give it a try. Made it to page 150 in the first read, whereas normally I wouldn't get more than 20 pages in a session with a weightier tome. Unfortunately, at about page 150 Smith begins his imagined description how the first ever female gang leader in the gulag came to power, and it was too much to continue. I would have sworn Smith was American from the style of the novel... can't think of a current British author I've read who depicts such a Rambo-style mission of revenge-justice, especially in a historical milieu where virtually no such justice was ever meted out. Another disturbing bit was how readily Smith had scattered little factoids clearly lifted directly from Solzhenitsyn throughout the prose in a form of gratuitous authenticity... maybe some people will like it but it doesn't work for me. The Dan Brown of stalinism as far as I'm concerned.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kathy on April 13 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book arrived in a very good condition, within specified time frame. I enjoyed reading it.
I would recommend it to everyone.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 211 reviews
57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4 1/2 Stars -- A Very Strong Follow-Up To Child 44! May 19 2009
By bobbewig - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me start off by saying that The Secret Speech is not quite as good as Child 44 -- BUT it is a very good historical thriller and definitely well worth reading. Tom Rob Smith's second novel takes places in 1956, post-Stalin Soviet Union. During this time a violent regime is beginning to come apart, resulting in a society where the police are the criminals and the criminals are the innocent. The "firecracker" during this period is when a secret document based on a speech by Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, is distributed throughout the nation. The basic theme of Khrushchev's message is that Stalin was a murderer and a tyrant, and that life in the Soviet Union will improve. The plot of The Secret Speech moves from the streets of Moscow during its political upheaval, to the Siberian gulags and to the heart of the Hungarian uprising in Budapest. Central to the plot is former state security officer, Leo Demidov, the hero of Smith's Child 44. Demidov is now the head of Moscow's homicide department, and while striving to see justice done, his life is in turmoil due to trying to build a life with his wife, Raisa, and their adopted daughters who have yet to forgive him for his role in the death of their parents. On top of this personal turmoil, Demidov and his family are in serious danger from someone with a grudge against him. The Secret Speech is an exciting, visceral, well-written page-turner from beginning to end that paints a vivid picture of the post-Stalinist Soviet Union at its onset. Further, as was also true in Child 44, Smith's characters are richly developed and are ones that this reader felt he got to know well. I should point out that The Secret Speech isn't flawless, although none of these flaws are major. Perhaps, the biggest of these minor flaws is that some of the plot developments are somewhat too coincidental and a bit far-fetched. But this book is fiction, after all, and these minor flaws do help to contribute to the book's excitement. In addition, I should point out that potential readers of The Secret Speech would highly benefit from reading Child 44 first. Enjoy!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
"To know how to wait is the great secret of success." Joseph De Maistre April 23 2010
By michael a. draper - Published on
Format: Paperback
With Stalin's death in the mid '50s, the iron fisted regime in the Soviet Union was beginning to breakup. The ruthless KGB were now thought to be extremists and criminals while former criminals were currently considered oppressed and innocent. During this time, Stalin's successor, Khrushchev, distributes a secret speech claiming that Stalin was a tryant and Russia was going to change.

Before that change took place, Leo Demidov, pretended to be a follower of a man named Lazar and was also the lover of Lazar's wife, Anisya. When the time came, Leo betrayed Lazar and Anisya, forcing them to inform on many of their followers. Lazar and Anisya were sent to prison.

With the lessening of the harsh treatment of dissidents, Anisya is released. She has become a hardened criminal and takes on the gang name, Fraera. Her one mission in life is to gain revenge on Leo not only for his betrayal of her husband but for his dishonesty about loving her. Her gang kidnaps Leo's adopted daughter and she tells Leo that unless he can free her husband, she will kill Leo's daughter, Zoya.

The story moves to the Gulag where prisoners are still treated harshly and we read of Leo's plan to free Lazar. The description of how this is carried out is a scene that will remain in the reader's mind.

With an excellent sense of history and drama, the story unfolds, providing the reader with an enlightened view of the intrigue and deception in Russia and in Hungary in the mid 1950's.

Although, not quite up to the excellence of the author's first novel, "Child 44," this is still an excellent historical mystery. Leo Demidov is a well portrayed character who wins the reader's heart with his love of family and sense of justice.
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Not quite as silly as some other best sellers... March 9 2009
By Steve Benner - Published on
Format: Paperback
Tom Rob Smith's second novel, "The Secret Speech", is an action-packed thriller set in the Soviet Bloc at the start of its post-Stalinist era. Rather than provide a run-of-the-mill East-versus-West spy story, however, Smith has chosen to use the de-Stalinisation programme of the early Khrushchev years and the events of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 as a setting for an exciting and engaging action drama. The main protagonist, Leo Demidov, is a former MGB (secret police) agent who, while attempting to atone for his earlier life and his role in the Stalinist purges, and also to provide a normal family home for his wife and two adopted daughters -- children orphaned as a result of his own earlier denunciation of their parents -- suddenly finds himself at the centre of a brutal and far-reaching back-lash against former Stalinist supporters.

The action flows across the pages in a fast and furious fashion with never a dull moment, as Leo battles against both the odds and the system -- reminiscent sometimes of a Russian Jack Bauer -- to preserve the State and to protect both himself and his family from the villains of the piece. As a lively and engaging read, Smith cannot really be faulted, unless it is perhaps that he packs in rather too much action and adversity for the hero to face, with there being altogether too many close calls than are necessary to make a good story. After a while, the rhythm of crisis/progress/setback/success becomes so endlessly sustained as to become somewhat predictable, with many a cliché along the way. Hollywood will love it.

For me, the book's biggest failings are Smith's complete inability to present a credible picture of the austerity of Soviet life of those times, or to evoke any of the atmosphere of fear and paranoia which permeated all lives behind the Iron Curtain throughout the Cold War -- factors which would have rendered both the premise and the details of this story entirely implausible. Smith's USSR bears more resemblance to a Soviet Union under Gorbachev's Perestroika than that under Khrushchev. Try Gillian Slovo's "Ice Road" if you want to see how much better this could have been handled.

In addition, Smith's plot line is often unnecessarily wayward and feels to be unnaturally contorted by a design intended to string together certain set dramatic scenes, more than to serve any greater over-riding story arc, coupled with a lack of focus as to where the human drama really lies. The closing chapters depicting events in Budapest in October and November 1956, for instance, read like dramatised re-tellings of old newsreel footage; as if such were the inspiration for the story as a whole, with the back-story being bolted on simply to get us to this concluding set of scenes.

For those who care not one jot about the historical accuracy of their novels and who like the action to be thick and furious, this book is sufficiently well written to keep one entertained over a long-haul flight, or engrossed through several long evenings with nothing better to do. Lots of the book is somewhat silly, but no more so than, say, "The Da Vinci Code". The author does need a lesson or two about the physics of aircraft and flying, though, and could really do to learn to rein back his need for a new crisis every ten minutes but apart from these lapses, he sure can write a good read!
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Dreary and Tedious June 11 2009
By Brian Baker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"Child 44" was a very good novel, dealing with the dogged pursuit of a serial killer by investigator Leo Demidov in a 50s-era Soviet Union in which the very existence of such a thing as a serial killer could not be officially admitted, as it betrayed potential weakness in the "worker's Paradise".

Unfortunately, this sequel has nowhere near the entertainment value of the original.

First of all, there's absolutely no mystery in this book at all; no crime to be solved; nothing intriguing. At the end of "Child 44" Demidov and his wife Raisa had adopted two children, Elena and her older sister Zoya. This entire book revolves around Zoya acting badly!

She's a despicable, self-involved, self-indulgent, revolting brat who despises Leo for his involvement in the deaths of her parents. Leo and Raisa are the pitiful fools who persist in trying to win her love. She's kidnapped. They're desperate to get her back. Leo keeps making stupid decisions; so does Raisa. So does Zoya.

I wanted to smack all three of them upside the head. They're all irritating beyond words.

I found "Child 44" to be engaging because Leo had to buck the vast bureaucracy of the USSR to doggedly pursue an insane killer, and he managed to do so in spite of all the obstacles he was forced to overcome. Gone is the intrepid and capable Leo, replaced by this idiot who can't seem to get anything right.

This mess was basically an elaborate family squabble; a soap opera written against the backdrop of the time. I was bored to tears when I wasn't annoyed out of my mind with these stupid people.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Stand-in for Cruz Smith and Kaminsky June 18 2009
By Dave Schwinghammer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stuart Kaminsky's Porfiry Rostnikov series seems to have been retired, and Martin Cruz Smith isn't very prolific, so I'm always on the lookout for another Russian mystery series that lives up to the other two. CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith certainly fit the bill. THE SECRET SPEECH is Tom Rob Smith's second effort starring former secret police operative and homicide cop Leo Demidov.

THE SECRET SPEECH gets its name from a speech that Khrushchev circulated after the death of Stalin, denouncing his inhumane treatment of Russian citizens. Someone else is murdering former MGB operatives and Leo Demidov sets out to find out who's behind it. Meanwhile his adopted daughter, Zoya, is kidnapped. Zoya still blames Leo for the death of her parents and that becomes a plot line as Leo strives to earn her love. The plot takes us from Moscow, to the gulags in the Kolyma and from there to the 1956 uprising in Budapest.

THE SECRET SPEECH is not as good as CHILD 44; I imagine because Smith had so much to work with in the previous novel, based on a real-life Russian serial killer who targeted children. Smith also puts the reader through some annoying twists and gyrations. Somebody dies only to come back to life a few pages later. There's also a scene toward the end regarding a musician that I could not figure out without rereading the book. A little hint would've helped.

There does seem to be a very apt theme running through the book, however. Reform can often lead to unintended complications. Baby steps is sometimes a better option.

THE SECRET SPEECH is okay as an alternative to Cruz Smith or Kaminsky, but CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff might be a better option. It's almost as good as GORKY PARK.