Leo Demidov knows this better than most. A rising, prominent officer in the State Security force, Leo is a former war hero whose only ambition is to serve his country. To defend this workers' paradise - and to guarantee a secure life for his parents and for his wife, Raisa - Leo has spent his career guarding against threats to the State. Ideological crimes - crimes of thought, crimes of disloyalty, crimes against the revolution - are forcefully suppressed, without question.
And then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal - a murderer - is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, all but sentenced to death. The only way to salvage what remains of his life is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the state to suggest that a murderer - much less a serial killer - is in their midst.
To save his life and the lives of his family, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the security forces, with only Raisa remaining at his side, to find and stop a criminal that the State won't even admit exists.
©2008 Tom Rob Smith; (P)2008 Hachette Audio
"Child 44 is a remarkable debut novel - inventive, edgy and relentlessly gripping from the first page to the last." (Scott Turow)
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.
An interesting tale, but I have trouble with writers who unwittingly create circumstances that are impossible, or terribly difficult at best. For example, our hero dives under the ice in a river, swims downstream and retrieves another man, swimming back upstream with him to the hole in the ice they both went through. Easy peasy, right? Wrong! Probably impossible. This sort of thing drives me nuts and distracts from the story. Too bad, otherwise a good listen.
This is a completely enthralling story, with superb writing and unrelenting tension and suspense. The reader was perfect for listening while driving since he read in a monotone that allowed one to hear every word without changing volume. I have listened to hundreds of audiobooks over the years and this ranks as one of my very favorites. I can't wait for my wife to hear it and would recommend it highly to all.
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