The catalyst comes when a secret manifesto composed by Stalin's successor, Khrushchev, is distributed to the entire nation. Its message: Stalin was a tyrant and a murderer. Its promise: The Soviet Union will transform. But there are forces at work that are unable to forgive or forget Stalin's tyranny so easily and demand revenge of the most appalling nature.
Meanwhile, former MGB officer Leo Demidov is facing his own turmoil. The two young girls he and his wife Raisa adopted have yet to forgive him for his involvement in the murder of their parents. They are not alone. Now that the truth is out, Leo, Raisa and their family are in grave danger from someone with a grudge against Leo. Someone transformed beyond recognition into the perfect model of vengeance.
©2009 Tom Rob Smith; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
"Sadly not a match for Child 44"
As a sequel to the excellent Child 44 ,The Secret Speech was a disapointment. The whodunnit (or whoisit?) element that worked so well in the first book was missing here, and I often found myself tuning out of lengthy passages of description or action that weren't as gripping as they could have been. A shame, as there were elements such as the criminal gang structures and activities that made for interesting listening - but not enough for more than 3 stars.
"What a shame"
Having enjoyed 'Child 44', I was most disappointed by this title. I agree with the other reviewers about the stilted and slow narration, which certainly doesn't help one's enjoyment - but more to the point is the fact that the plot is completely ludicrous and over the top. It's as though the author wants to pack in as much action as he can - the net result is that it all becomes completely unbelievable and, if anything, boring.
Isn't it true that so often second books are a real let down?
"Not bad, but not the best"
I didn't enjoy this book as much as Child 44 which I thought was an excellent and well-narrated story. It is certainly action-packed, but I found some of the plot developments rather hard to swallow. My main gripe, however, is the narrator, as mentioned by another reviewer. All those strange pauses in the middle of sentences eventually proved to detract from the story itself, and in the end made finishing the book rather a trial.
As good as his first book, but far more emotional.
The action sequences can feel a bit un-ending at times, and like the first book I suspect there will be some critisism of his "Dicken's" like approach to co-incide driven plot.
But overall; Intelligent - grown-up - engrossing - thrilling - fascinating - very violent - great dramatic - great dialogue - unpredictable plotline - life affirming - tragic - cliche and stereo-type free writing.
But still, my joint favourite read of 2009. (Child 44 was my other favourite.)
I hope there will be more of Leo, though I cannot imagine how his story can be developed further ... but then I couldn't have imagined this fantastic story either.
"great book poor narrator"
Because i loved Child 44 so much I bought this without listening to the reader. I found him too slow and his style of reading broke my attention away from the book. So make sure you are ok with the narration before you buy.
Not quite up to the same standards as 'Child 44', but still a very enjoyable listen. This book seems to have a few more action sequences in it; not a bad thing in itself but one cannot help thinking it may be in order to increase it's movie appeal since, at the time of writing this review, 'Child 44' is a soon-to-be released film. I think The Secret Speech may have been written as a sequel to the movie and not as a sequel to the original book. A shame, but I suppose understandable.
I recommend this book highly as I found it a well-narrated and interesting listen, with the only negative criticism coming when comparing it to it's deeper and more intelligent predecessor.
"Tries too hard"
I really enjoyed Child 44 and went straight to this, the second novel in this series from Tom Rob Smith. I have to say I feel it tries rather too hard to be bigger, better etc. In so doing it loses both its way and this reader. The same characters are back and the dark, brutal Soviet regime is as dark and brutal as before, a terrible secret from the past has implications once again, and there is, again, a desperate race across the cruel underbelly of this sadistic society. But it stretches credibility just too far this time and what I thought was a taut thriller in Child 44 with a few implausibilities, became a rather fanciful story this time.
Well-written and (perhaps too) fast-paced, it maintains the first novel's strength of starkly-drawn set-pieces which live vividly in the mind. At the end, however, it just twists and turns too much to be sustainable.
"Good sequel, shame about the narration"
Although no sequel was ever going to equal Child 44, I really enjoyed this story. It's just unfortunate that they didn't keep the same narrator who did Child 44, I really missed the Russian accents and sometimes the voices were so similar I couldn't work out which character was speaking. It was a bit slow as well and I could hear the narrator swallowing which was a bit off putting. I would recommend it for the story but the narration lets it down.
"Good follow up"
A good continuation of the story from Child 44, maintaining the characters while keeping the story fresh and interesting.
Child 44 was one of the best listens I've had this year. Although I didn't enjoy this nearly as much, I thought the book was excellent. At the end of the first book I couldn't see how there could be a follow up, but I'm very glad that there was.
If you enjoyed Child 44, I would read/listen to this. Well worth your time.
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