Leo Demidov seems a good man but his past includes several years as an MGB agent, and that's a past that's very hard to live down. This dilemma is one of the strengths of this novel and the consequences felt more than dire when he voluntarily checks into a Gulag prison. What befalls he and his partner is gripping, even shocking, But the novel more or less fizzles following this high point, with a lot of angst and a trip into the center of the Hungarian revolt that seems a separate story.
After listening to Ron Perlman narrate the superb City of Thieves by Benioff, this narrator's handing of Russian accents comes off as slightly oafish, and generally unsatisfying.
"Child 44" is one of the best murder mysteries I have ever read, which made this all the more disappointing. Simply put, "The Secret Speech" is terrible. It's not a mystery at all, but rather a very crappy thriller that fails to thrill. It is merely a collection of outlandish scenes strung together with no ultimate goal. The character of Zoya, who launches the action of "The Secret Speech" is one of the more annoying characters ever put to paper.
The narrator is the same as "Child 44" and thankfully he does not let us down in the same way that the author did. The sole bright spot in an otherwise bleak disappointment.
Absolutely, Boutsikaris' performance makes the story so much richer and really engages the listener in the story.
The marriage of fictional intrigue and history was fascinating. Being an American that grew up in the latter years of the Cold War, it's fascinating to hear about the Russian side of things during some of these years. And while this is fictional, it's still so interesting to see how this culture reacts to the many leadership changes they have endured and how that effected all areas of life. For us in the States it was just headlines, we didn't know how this might effect people personally in the USSR, this book gives a peek inside.
I like the scene where Raisa goes toe-to-toe with Anisya, who tries to manipulate her by suggesting that Malysh is Raisa's son. Anisya, who is so embroiled in deception and manipulation can't imagine that Raisa and Leo have disclosed everything about their pasts and thinks she will blow them apart by revealing this "secret" of Raisa's. But Raisa maintains her grace and dignity, Leo knows her past but she tells the story of her son for Malysh's benefit and is shown to be a true woman of strength versus Anisya's forced/perceived strength.
Yes, I didn't want to stop listening and looked forward to every opportunity to get further in to the story.
While it's not as strong as Child 44, The Secret Speech is still a great thriller. Again the characters are complicated, life isn't all sunshine and butterflies for our heroes Leo and Raisa, they're living real life and it's messy and sometimes unpleasant. I like that Smith doesn't go for the traditional happy ending and he doesn't make his heroes cloying. They're strong but also flawed, you root for them but sometimes you don't like them and somehow that makes them appealing.
Much preferred the first book to this one. Mainly due to the story. Rather far fetched is an understatement. Many of the side stories and tangents not getting enough attention or detail leading to disappointment. Especially for readers of the first book.
Child 44 blew me away. Story. Narration. Everything was perfect. I enjoyed about half of Secret Speech and had to push myself through the last half. I think this would have worked well as a much shorter book, but after a huge climax in the story the story then goes on for quite a while and I found it difficult to continue caring. The first half of the book is very well done and very powerful. I'm disappointed and wonder if the publisher didn't tell him he had to extend it by another 300 pages or something. He lost me after the bridge. But I will try Agent 6 and just kind of pretend this book never happened. He's a good writer and the narrator is great.
Never read the print version, so couldn't tell you.
Yes, it was a lovely listen. Simultaneously gripping and historically fascinating.
I loved his work on the full cast American Gods book. He was incredible there, but even better here because he gets to really tangle with the Russian accent and creating different voices of various men and women with that language.
Absolutely, I burned through it in two days flat.
Not as good as the first one, but still well worth the time!
The genius of these books is that they will reel you in and on the peak of each climax you'll be thinking, "no, no, dear God, NO!" You'll find yourself feeling invested in every character because Smith doesn't show you just one side of them-- He takes you into the dynamics and history of the character and everything that made them the broken, gritty, complex characters that they all are. Your reactions will be visceral sometimes, but for the people that can handle it, the books will be a very solid read... Now onto Book 3!!!