33 year-old pharmacist, organic chemist and musician.
I went as far as 6 hours into this book before I decided had enough. While some historical details and settings are accurate (as far as I know, being interested in the subject of the USSR during and after Stalin), the sterotypes portrayed in the novel are so boring and the main characters are completely un-believable.
Picture an MGB officer who's been denunciated by someone under the chain of command in order to get a promotion after said agent is found guilty of being a spy and shot. Now picture this same MGB officer pondering whether or not he should try to convince his superiors he did nothing wrong. Let's accept the fact he neither gets shot on the spot, nor gets sent in exile to a camp in Siberia (for some reason). Instead he gets demoted and is forced to join the local militia in an industrial city in the Urals. Upon moving into the city, he starts questioning an official state report concerning the murder of a young teenager and decides to re-open the investigation on his own. When his boss finds out, he proceed to warn not to do any harm to his reputation or that of the men under his command or else he'll kill him. This isn't Harry Bosch ladies and gentlemen, this is Soviet Russia right after the passing of Stalin.
And that's when I stopped reading. The characters and what they touch/who they talk with are so blatantly Westernized it's laughable. I can only imagine the ex-MGB officer fleeing from his old co-workers in a ZIL limousine stolen from a PolitBuro member, dodging in between the statues of Josef Stalin and the endless queues of grim Soviet citizens waiting in front of a state-owned grocery store for a piece of bread or a few drops of cooking oil while supersonic Tupolev bombers fly in formation over the Kremlin to attack the rebel agent on specific orders of the Secretary General of the Party.
If you are looking for good USSR historical fiction, look elsewhere.
I like the 1984 crossed with Dragon Tattoo aspect, with a little Gorky Park, and Silence of the Lambs, and Fatherland and episodic structure a bit like Red October with the movement in time and place.
this is a good mystery thriller/detective story and does it's job effectively. I can't rave about it due to fact it does ultimately follow the template of mystery/thriller genre (serial killer, clues, doubters, race against time) and though it doesn't do anything exceptional it does have some good characters, (couple of very good villains who are not the murderer). there are some formulaic aspects, but there are a few surprises along the way.
one thing i liked was that there are very few good guys actually, and a case could be made that there are none. this is partially due to the people being stuck in the repressive society which dictates their actions and controls their thinking.
actually, my favorite thing about this is the depiction of life within a dictatorship and the methods by which those at the top control everyone and information and the daily life struggle just to survive when you can't trust anyone. i think that part of the story was more engaging to me than the mystery part, actually there are a couple things regarding that i found to be a bit forced and too coincidental for my taste. but it is a page turner in many ways.
& it does seem at least to be well researched and author seems to be knowledgeable about Russia and it's political situation at the time. it appears to be the start of what might be a good detective series based in Russia of the 50s and 60s
Life in the USSR under Stalin is the backdrop for this mystery. I really enjoyed the history lesson, story, characters, and narrator. I highly recommend this book and will leave all the accolades to the literary critics. All the positives are right on!!!
I love listening to audiobooks especially Spy thrillers (Daniel Silva type books) and business books (Steve Jobs autobiography as an eg)
I didn't quite get the start of the book. But then had an "Ah Ha" moment, once i realized how Leo and Andre tied in together
The moment when things become clear - around 70% into the book.
The moment when Leo and Andre meet
Murder along the Trans-siberian Express
It was rather sad the way the book ended. I felt sad that Leo never tried looking up his younger brother who had to resort to an alternate route to find Leo.
I just could not stand the ridiculous "russian-english" read by Dennis Boutsikaris in every dialogue. Maybe it is just me, but why should a genuine Russian has to sound like someone with strong Slavic accent speaking English??! Hello, they are Russian!! They don't have accent when they speak their language...(of course.. If we bravely assume that they spoke Russian in Russia- not broken English)!
I don't know.
The many twists and turns. I also enjoyed the bits of art history.
His accents are good and very understandable.
Neither. It made me wonder. Some of the twists seemed a little unbelievable, when I stopped to think about it.
Still a good read.
The character development
Leo - he was a romantic and naive in a time of very little happiness
This was a very interesting book, it had a lot of little twists that were genuinely surprising and the characters were well developed. There were a few little things that I would have like resolved a bit more in depth. Over all it was a very good story and plot... definitely held my interest. It was quite depressing as a whole though, I expect serial killer books to be dark but the whole setting was very depressing.
Very smart thriller that takes the reader into the Cold War Russia and secret police. This is better than 99% of thrillers out, and the author should have let the story end here rather than attempt a series with these characters. The rest of the trilogy pales by comparison and does not live up to expectations.
Set against the snowy backdrop of Stalinist Russia, we see the central character striving for high ideals in a broken and dysfunctional utopia. Standing next to our hero is his faithful wife. In a world where things are not always as they appear to be, and where fear and ambition often trumps integrity, it is easy to get away with murder.
The plot navigated smoothly through twist and bumps, while leaning to avoid pitfalls, before concluding in a satisfying, albeit sad, ending.
There were a few graphic details, and some desciptions of gruesome acts throughout Child 44. However, there was enough humanity in the characters to convey that these were acts of depravity, and not necessarily the norm..
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
Many in Russia want to give up on democracy, they need to read this, if they are allowed.
How bad can a totalitarian government get? In this book under Stalin, the government gets so bad that a serial killer can continue to kill children, because the government insists that a serial killer could never exist in their country. So bad that the man trying to catch the serial killer must, do it without the government finding out or he will be killed himself.
Smith does not so much develop characters, as much as tear them down. It is an interesting way to structure a novel. The characters are deconstructed and then rebuilt. Even more interesting is the character of the country. At first glance you would think the citizens of such a country would be a back stabbing, hateful group of people. Instead you see how the people of the country come together to survive as a people. The people sacrifice themselves for the country, but not for the government. The people's reaction is different from some other similar countries such as North Korea.
I found the book to be suspenseful, exciting, intense, unbelievable, surprising, a real page turner. I highly recommend the book.