We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
The Child Thief Audiobook

The Child Thief: A Novel

A troubled World War I veteran races across the frozen steppe of 1930's Ukraine to save a child from a shadowy killer with unthinkable plans. Luka is a war veteran who now wants nothing more than to have a quiet life with his family. His village has, so far, remained hidden from the advancing Soviet brutality. But everything changes the day a stranger arrives, pulling a sled bearing a terrible cargo. In the chaos, a little girl has vanished, and Luka is the only man with the skills to find the stolen child and her kidnapper.
    • 1 audiobook per month
    • 180,000+ titles to choose from
    • $14.95 per month after free trial

Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of City of Thieves and Child 44, a troubled World War I veteran races across the frozen steppe of 1930's Ukraine to save a child from a shadowy killer with unthinkable plans.

Luka is a war veteran who now wants nothing more than to have a quiet life with his family. His village has, so far, remained hidden from the advancing Soviet brutality. But everything changes the day a stranger arrives, pulling a sled bearing a terrible cargo. When the villagers’ fear turns deadly, they think they have saved themselves. But their anger has cursed them. In the chaos, a little girl has vanished, and Luka is the only man with the skills to find the stolen child and her kidnapper in these frozen lands. Besides, the missing girl is the best friend of Luka’s daughter, and he swears he will find her. Together, with his sons, Luka sets out across lands ravaged by war and gripped by treachery. Soon they realize that the man they are tracking is no ordinary criminal, but a skillful hunter using the child as bait in his twisted game. It will take all of Luka’s strength to battle the harshest of conditions and all of his wit to stay a step ahead of Soviet authorities. And though his toughest enemy is the man he tracks, his strongest bond is a promise to his family back home.

©2013 Dan Smith (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (260 )
5 star
 (141)
4 star
 (80)
3 star
 (30)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
4.4 (239 )
5 star
 (136)
4 star
 (71)
3 star
 (28)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (0)
Story
4.6 (239 )
5 star
 (168)
4 star
 (48)
3 star
 (16)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 09-28-13
    David Houston, TX, United States 09-28-13 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2028
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    539
    169
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    381
    18
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant--both the writing and the narration"

    The opening scene in The Child Thief, the slow, portentous approach of a mysterious stranger across a frozen landscape, is riveting and absolutely perfect. Incredibly, the book manages to sustain the same mesmerizing, understated quality throughout until the last words of the story, prepared for and half-expected and yet still immensely powerful, leave the listener breathless.

    Even as I was drawn inexorably into Dan Smith's dark, harrowing narrative, I had initial misgivings. It seemed to me that some of his characters acted in ways which were too foolish or ignorant for me to credit them even in a remote Ukrainian village paralyzed by fear of the imminent arrival of Stalin's GPU. Before long, however, these considerations had become irrelevant. Even though I occasionally doubted an action, I always believed and understood the emotional truth of the character, and the irresistible momentum of the events established their own logic and carried me along, completely fascinated and captive to the storyteller's voice. The result was the briefest thirteen hours I have ever spent listening to a book

    There are a few author/narrator pairings which strike me as extraordinarily "right." Richard Ferrone reading John Sandford's "Prey" novels; Jo Nesbo's work read by Robin Sachs; Steven Pacey's masterful command of Joe Abercrombie's fantasy novels all come to mind. Bronson Pinchot's hypnotic, absolutely bone true first person voice telling Luka's story belongs in that company. It is as fine an example of voice acting as I have ever heard-- restrained, measured, almost painfully quiet and richly expressive of the man and his profoundly moving experience.

    It is difficult for me to imagine a listener who would not be caught, entertained and often thrilled by this recording. I strongly recommend that you add it to your wish list, and I suggest you begin it when you have a nice stretch of free time so that you can savor it with few interruptions.

    41 of 44 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara 12-02-15
    Sara 12-02-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6520
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    300
    262
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    254
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Terror In 1930's Ukraine"

    I chose this book because other reviewers compared it favorably to Norwegian By Night--another book I really enjoyed. I can't agree completely with those comparisons. To me, the flavor and tone of The Child Thief had very little in common with Norwegian By Night. Instead, this title reminded me of Solzhenitsyn's One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich crossed with a healthy dose of the thriller by Sam Eastland--Eye Of the Red Tsar. A fairly complex--but intriguing and interesting mix.

    At first I was disarmed by Pinchot's narration. It was so soft and quiet that I wasn't sure I would be able to tolerate being whispered at for 13+ hours. After about 15 minutes it all clicked, I adjusted to the voice and thought it was perfect for the story being told. It makes you feel almost as though you are inside Luka's head hearing his thoughts. An excellent narration that added positively to the book and the listening experience. Always a good thing.

    Heart pounding storytelling, gruesome detail, edge of your seat action and thoughtful commentary on personal perspective, soldiers and war made this a wild ride. The book is definitely a thriller but at the same time it is much more than that. There is a strong thread of self-reliance and gratitude for the tiny bits of "luck" you find in your life. A tale of love and duty in a harsh, cruel and loveless time in Russia. I listened captivated absolutely every chance I had and recommend this book if you want to be swept up into a different world entirely. A winner.

    20 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Virginia 04-23-14
    Amazon Customer Virginia 04-23-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    152
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    278
    29
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    11
    11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Cold, Subtle, and Full of Suspense"

    Smith could have chosen any of the characters in his story to be his main character. He might have made it a "coming of age" tale and chosen one of the sons. Or a sinister tale of desperation and sorrow by choosing one of the children who were stolen. These days, it's become popular to have an "anti-hero" and make the villain the protagonist; in which case he might have picked the Baba Yaga to tell the story.

    All of those plot lines have been done before, however, and some of them are getting quite tired. Instead, Smith chose to tell the story from the perspective of Luka, a father and retired Russian soldier living in the Ukraine- the result surprised me. Luka is one of the most well written characters I've ever come across.

    Still, it's not just Luka's story. There is tremendous depth and subtlety everywhere you look here. It's clear how much thought Smith put into crafting this. Even the setting cold, quiet, and dangerous- is given a personality. The result is an utterly unique tale that is haunting me days after finishing it.

    As for Bronson Pinchot- I fell in love with him as a narrator while listening to Larry Correia's Grimnoir Chronicles (for which I hear he's been nominated for an Audie- well done, sir). I cannot imagine a better actor to voice this story. In the beginning, the thick Ukrainian accent threw me. By the end, however, I could not help but marvel at how absorbed I became in the story- completely thanks to Pinchot's abilities. He successfully creates distinct men, teenagers, soldiers, women's and children's voices without distracting you. He voiced both the bark of command and the choked crack of despair during this novel- I really can't praise his work enough.

    You will want to listen to this book. You will want to re-listen to this book. It is that good.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 01-18-14
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 01-18-14 Member Since 2010

    Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2447
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    274
    213
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    532
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A steadfast hero"

    If you want to capture someone’s attention, don’t shout – whisper. In the midst of so many thrillers that shout – with fast action, chases, violence and gore - The Child Thief is all the more riveting because it is so quiet. Even Bronson Pinchot’s narration is hushed, compelling you to hang onto every word. The search for the kidnapper is quiet in a landscape muffled with deep snow that silences footsteps, but captures footprints, and the chase is a dangerous chess game of “come and get me if you dare”.

    While the landscape is vast, the viewpoint is small and detailed, as if even a person’s soul can be seen through the sniper’s scope on Luka’s rifle. A study of good and evil and of individuals struggling to save what is human in themselves through the search to save someone else. To me Luka is heroic in the best sense – someone who stays true to himself and his family in the face of mob madness, danger from the Red Army, and unthinkable evil from the child thief. One of the strongest characters I have read in a very long time.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonny 02-05-14
    Bonny 02-05-14

    Addicted to books, both print and audio-.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    701
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    116
    79
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    85
    14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Breathtaking story and narration"

    This book is simply mesmerizing. I bought this based on the positive review of one of the reviewers I follow, and am so glad I did. The setting is bleak: Ukraine, Winter, 1930. Soviet repression, neighbor turning on neighbor. But Luka, whose viewpoint we inhabit, is, in his imperfect way, ultimately compassionate and humane, and he fosters this humanity in the people he loves and in those he comes across by chance and misfortune. It's a remarkable book, and Bronson Pinchot more than does it justice. The narration is some of the best in the Audible universe. Take a good, long, deep breath before you begin listening, because you may not be able to exhale until it's finished. Very, very highly recommended.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Fairbanks, AK, United States 01-17-15
    Ryan Fairbanks, AK, United States 01-17-15 Member Since 2012

    "The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why" Mark Twain

    HELPFUL VOTES
    281
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    77
    42
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    12
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Even bad men can do good things"
    Any additional comments?

    I stumbled upon this book because I'm a fan of Bronson Pinchot - the narrator - and I'm happy I did. This book has all of the action, suspense, character development, tragedy, and .... you get the point.
    The story builds slowly. It is based in post war Ukraine, the story of a war veteran who, after a gruesome discovery, is taken on a brutal journey across the steppe to find his kidnapped niece. What evolves is a game of cat and mouse set against the dramatic political background that enveloped the blood lands after WWII. It is the story of how good men can do bad things; and how bad men can also do much good.
    My wife thought the book was too slow, and in parts, that might be true. But the story has depth, as good books often do.
    Secondly, Bronson Pinchot was amazing. He does narrate the book in a heavy Ukrainian accent and is soft spoken, almost in the way I would imagine a weathered, battle scarred veteran of this time and place might have spoken. It took a few minutes to get used to, but was masterfully done.

    Five stars.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Bartonville, TX 10-02-13
    Susan Bartonville, TX 10-02-13 Member Since 2012

    Myst/thrillers, some contemporary and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    850
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    415
    397
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    148
    78
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Baba Yaga"

    This is out of my usual genre, I normally don't choose anything that is about war or holocaust. There were parts that surrounded the Russian Purge of the 1930's that were disturbing but helped to set the scene surrounding the story. I connected and cared about the characters from the very beginning, and the hunt for "The Child Thief" was interesting and exciting. The mystery behind the missing child, the tempered bonding between father and sons, and the rigorous tracking, made this listen fascinating and worth the credit. Dan Smith's illustration of the Ukrainian tundra was elegant. The images he brought to mind were beautiful but at the same time harsh and unforgiving.

    Bronson Pinchot's narration was genius as usual, each voice was distinct and the characters personalities were brought to the forefront. All in all this was a good listen and memorable in its uniqueness.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S MA 10-11-14
    John S MA 10-11-14 Member Since 2014

    Avid audible listener for over 10 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1156
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    189
    186
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    99
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Epic thriller set in Ukraine"

    This is both a great thriller as well as historical thriller. Set in the Ukraine during WWI and WWII it is much about the child thief as it is about the terror of living in Stalinist Russia. This was the period of collectivization, where peasants were forced off the land they had sometime worked for generations. The hero of the book spends as much time hunting the child thief as he does dodging the Stalinist officials. It also can be considered as a survivalist book because the hunt takes place in the frozen forest of Russia in the middle of winter. The story does bog down for a few chapters with page after page of torture scenes. This is one of my more favorite listens of the year.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Bedford, TX, United States 02-17-14
    Kathy Bedford, TX, United States 02-17-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    864
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5049
    133
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    237
    118
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a Find!"

    What a find!
    First I was unfamiliar with the author. Second the story was unique and about a time and place I knew little about (Ukraine about 1930). Third the characters seemed to really care about each other. There was genuine affection between family members. None of the drunken beatings common in many stories of that area.
    Smith's writing is delightful. The details are so vivid, it's hard to believe he didn't live the experience.
    Bronson Pinchot's performance is stunning. It just couldn't be better.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meggin Reno, NV, United States 01-18-14
    Meggin Reno, NV, United States 01-18-14 Member Since 2015

    Speaker, Coach, Author - in Reno, NV (A GREAT place!) I've been an avid Audible fan for several years. Listen on my iPhone many hours each week.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    237
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    214
    105
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    44
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stunning - Would Rate This 6 Stars If I Could"

    I have been telling people about this book ever since I started listening - and have told everyone to LISTEN rather than read it. This narrator was brilliant and brought Dan Smith's amazing story up to another level. I didn't want to miss a sentence in this book and if I thought I had, I went back. Tragic and yet hopeful. Painful and yet inspiring. One of the best books EVER from Audible.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.