Couldn't decide which was more chilling - the tale of a serial killer of children or Smith's harrowing description of life in Stalinist Russia following WWII. Takes a special skill to turn a state police goon into a sympathetic, compelling hero. Well-rounded characters and matter of fact description of a society nearly beyond imagining for those of us born into freedom. What's a policeman to do when there is a killer loose in a society so perfect crime does not exist? You'll enjoy Smith's answer to the question.
The story is compelling and thought provoking. Unexpected turns and twists to the end made this very enjoyable listening for me. I stop and start with only about 45 minutes to listen each day; but I looked forward to hearing the next piece and was totally involved in the story and plot. I highly recommend.
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Great Mystery With Lots Of Historic Value
This was a great book taking place in pre and post WWII Soviet Russia. I knew of the Stalin purges, but had no idea how tense everyday life was not knowing if you were the next one to be put to death or sent to the gulag for essentially nothing, but the "Greater Good" of the Soviet peoples. I am not sure what scared me most, the serial killer or the Soviet MGB. It's a wonder people could function as well as they did under the terror of the Stalin regime. Very scary book....!!! A must read for historians.
Honestly I purchased this book because it was on sale but I was pleasantly surprised by the plot and the author's story telling skill. His writing was so descriptive without dragging too much that I almost felt that I was watching a movie. I also like the Russian accent the narrator spoke, which added more character to each person. The degree of completeness is quite high and I am sure someone will make a movie out of this book.
While this was basically a detective story set in Stalinist Russia, the Russian cultural details set forth in Child 44 are so alien to our American values, the whole story felt otherworldly. This is not a bad thing, just a writer painting a brilliant canvas. I remember in junior high school, my history teacher stating that millions of people died in the Stalinist purge. It wasn't until I read this book that I understood how those numbers could have easily come about. The tidy ending however probably doomed this book to only being one of the best mystery books of the past few years instead of contending for being one of the best mystery novels of all time.
Wow. I have to say I would not have come across that ending on my own. I found this to be interesting and with a lot of exercise of the brain! I was first frustrated on how the story jumped around, after completing the book, would not have been able to get to point Z without going through the other points. This is my first book fo Mr. Smith. I look forward to reading another. His web drew me in completely.
A book lover with varied interests: history, political and technical and economic thrillers, mysteries, crime dramas, futuristic fantasy.
Set in Stalinesque Russia, Child 44 is a unique serial murder mystery. The listener lives the vicious brutality of the time. We experience the treachery of neighbor pitted against neighbor. We feel the sheer horror of being accused of anti-Russian sentiment, knowing that to be named is to be guilty in the eyes of the State. Residents realize that the only way to lessen their suffering is to sacrifice someone else. People denounce loved ones and foes alike -- only to find themselves on the executioner's block anyway. Leo's biggest error was the fact that his search for the child killer was in direct violation of the State's edict. This betrayal designated him as a western sympathizer. During the course of the story, Leo makes a profound change from a State supporter to a dissident in a relentless search for a murderer. He is not a western sympathizer; he does not want to abandon his country. He just wants to catch a killer; and in the process he becomes an honorable human being. Also, the narrator was phenomenal.
The combination of action with a well thought out plot and great character development makes for a great listen. The narrator choice I thought was perfect for this book. If you are OK with some gruesome parts of the book and plot, this is a clear choice to use a credit on.