Child 44 Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Dennis Boutsikaris expertly conveys the fear and paranoia that permeates Smith's outstanding debut novel of murder in 1950s Stalinist Russia. Leo Demidov, decorated hero of WWII and an officer in Moscow's MGB (a forerunner of the KGB), refuses to denounce his wife as an enemy spy. He is subsequently demoted, disgraced and dispatched, along with his wife, to a backwater factory. A brutal murder with the same characteristics as one Leo was once forced to cover up convinces him that a serial killer is stalking Russian children. Using Russian accents to their full advantage, Boutsikaris infuses his characters' dialogue with a deep sense of downtrodden melancholia. His staid, deliberate reading captures the soul-numbing oppressiveness of life under a totalitarian regime, as well as one man's desperate fight against it in order to do what's right. A Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 3). (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Stellar debut...completely original and absolutely satisfying." (Starred PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)
"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)
"A debut novel from a shockingly talented 28-year-old Brit...Nerve-wracking pace and atmosphere...Smashing." (Starred KIRKUS)
"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)
"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 of 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)
"An amazing debut--rich, different, fully-formed, mature...and thrilling." (Lee Child)
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Top Customer Reviews
It was dark. It was gritty. At times it was downright disturbing. But this book is a great mystery.
Smith uses this novel to take us deep into the historical and political nightmare of Stalin's Russia to catch a killer. And with incredible imagery delves into the hardships and cruelty endured by the people of that time.
It is an intriguing, interesting, well written story with lots of twists and turns. Don't miss it. It's hard to put down.
Speaking of sensationalizing, like too much we see around us now, it has an obsession with glorified violence and tries to out-do the next book over in its horror.
Coming from our modern liberal world, it's hard not to wonder how anyone lived in that kind of repression, and how anyone managed to get anything done...
It's fiction but how much of it could have been true? Were/are there serial killers in countries that weren't/aren't caught because the government doesn't acknowledge their existence? Will we ever know?
The author presents a solid mystery wrapped up in the enigma of Stalinist Russia -- where murder and crime doesn't officially exist. Although Stalin himself murdered millions.
I thought the story tied together well although the book plodded a bit in the middle. The author sets up sequels which I will have to check out.
Reality check; he may someday enter the lists of writers that include John LeCarrre and other notables of this genre however he is not there at present and based on what I have read of this man I think he would be the last to suggest it. This work is a solid debut; it is not the greatest work since Guttenberg began his printing press.
I don’t know where the line is drawn between fiction and historical fiction. The author moved the events that truly took place in the 1980’s to Stalin’s 1950’s “when the stakes were much higher for someone who dared to risk opposing the State”. That may be an understatement as Stalin presided over one of the most murderous, repressive cults of personality in History.
The story required a primary character that went through an about face in his beliefs and personal conduct. I found this to be a stretch based on the events in the book. As part of The MGB Leo Demidov zealously and actively engaged in horrific behavior based upon his State-Based conditioning. I found his change as a character too extreme to accept as a reader even though the author used Khrushchev’s arrival to buttress the closing events of the book. I thought it made for an ending that was a bit too bright for 1950’s Russia.
I really did enjoy the unwinding of the motivation for the serial killer. I cannot say much as it would spoil the tale for readers to come. I found it unique among the stories of its type. And unlike others I did not find there were any contrived gotcha moments or gratuitous twists in the book.
The book is an enjoyable read. It is also the author’s first book. He is likely to write and grow and give readers finer work as he develops his talent. Talking of any author’s first work in superlatives is unfair and unrealistic.
Most recent customer reviews
Well written book, I look forward to reading more of the authors work.Published 8 months ago by Suzanne Bahr
One of the great novels i had the opportunity to read very instructive excellent very well written bravo i would recommend to anyone looking forward to
The movie in April.