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The Secret Speech  By  cover art

The Secret Speech

By: Tom Rob Smith
Narrated by: Dennis Boutsikaris
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Publisher's summary

It is 1956. Three years ago, Leo Demidov moved on from his career as a member of the state security force. As an MGB officer, Leo had been responsible for untold numbers of arrests and interrogations. But as a reward for his heroic service in stopping a killer who had terrorized citizens throughout the country, Leo was granted the authority to establish and run a homicide department in Moscow.

Now, he strives to see justice done on behalf of murder victims in the Soviet capital, while at the same time working to build a life with his wife Raisa and their adopted daughters, Zoya and Elena.

Leo's past, however, can not be left behind so easily, and the legacy of his former career - the friends and families of those he had arrested as a state security officer - continues to hound him. Now, a new string of murders in the capital threaten to bring Leo's past crashing into the present, shattering the fragile foundations of his new life in Moscow, and putting his daughter Zoya's life at risk.

Faced with a threat to his family, Leo is launched on a desperate, personal mission that will take him to the harsh Siberian Gulags, to the depths of the hidden criminal underworld, and into the heart of Budapest and the Hungarian uprising.

©2009 Grand Central Publishing (P)2009 Hachette

What listeners say about The Secret Speech

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ed
  • 02-18-10

Disappointing Followup

I was not as enamored with this effort by Tom Rob Smith as I was with his Child 44. No matter what trauma beset Leo, he had an amazing resilience. The motivations of several characters in the book were not believable. I got the feeling that the story could have ended at any time and there would have not been much less resolution as there was when the book actually did end. If you haven't listened to anything by Smith and want to give one of his books a try, go with Child 44. And then try another author.

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

NIcely tied into real events

The author did his research and tied this work of fiction relatively well into historically significant events, like Kruschev's "Secret Speech" of 1956 and into the Hungarian Revolution of the same year. I didn't know about these historical events until I listened to the book, and did a bit of research afterwards. I feel both entertained and feel like I learned something - I am left impressed with this piece of historical fiction.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Love this author

Wonderful to return to the characters and the world created in Smith's first novel, Child 44, which really rocked me. Not quite as strong as the first work, but still a terrific read. Hope he continues to develop this into a full character series - I'd jump on the next one, if there is one.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A Significant Departure from Child 44

The Secret Speech is the second book in the Leo Demidov trilogy, and I dove into it promptly after finishing Child 44. Unfortunately, I found this book lacking in the qualities that made the first book so extraordinary.

Instead of the intimate, personal tone of Child 44, The Secret Speech instead opts for a more impersonal story of a country at war. Perhaps if this was a standalone book, the plotline of a nation at a moment of internal change and the politics involved would have been more engaging. As it was, however, it was difficult to make the shift to a novel far less character driven than the first book had been.

Another challenging aspect for me was the plot’s focus on Leo and Raisa’s adopted daughter, Zoya. While we met Zoya in the first book, little time was spent on her character; and I had a hard time now suddenly caring about her as much as the story demanded. Perhaps this was a personal issue or failure that other readers won’t experience - I don’t know. For me, at least, the sudden jump to Zoya’s plotline was a difficult one, and I was unsuccessful in my attempt to find her at all sympathetic. This proved especially difficult because some of her decisions were so unlikeable I was unable to forgive them, even when taking into consideration her extremely traumatic childhood.

This book attempted a far greater reach than the first book; spanning more time, more locations, more history. Much time is spent on the war, with battle scenes of tanks, masses of protesters, bombs, and the internal manipulations of the top players. Again, perhaps as an independent story it could have worked, but as a follow-up to Child 44 I found it a great loss to not focus on the people and relationships that made the first novel such a triumph.

I’m not sorry I read the book, and for those that loved Child 44 and want to complete the trilogy, I suppose it’s worth reading. Just be prepared for a much broader plot with far less intimacy or character development.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Solid sequel

I didn't quite feel this one as much as I did Child 44. The stakes weren't quite as high and it dragged a bit in the middle. But it was good to spend more time with Leo. But I enjoyed the book both as a thrill ride and as a look at the immediate post Stalin Russia. But I hope Smith's next novel has a case that feels more urgent.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not nearly as good as "Child 44"

This is not a bad book. However, "Child 44" was so good and so interesting, this was a disappointment. It is not as original and not as fascinating.

I regret giving a negative review after having liked the precursor novel so much. Maybe the author set too high a standard with that work.

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

If you enjoyed Child 44 don't think twice and buy

As many declared that this story is not as brilliant as Child 44, but it is a very good one.

75% of the novel will keep you in the edge with heart beating events, but at the end of the book the pace become slower and it become more like an insight about history (so if you like reading history this is an extra bonus for you).

The narrator is very good. No major complaints, I just couldn't get in the mood with him 100%, but I blame myself here, it seems I am not so fond of the Russian accent. Listen to the sample.

I highly recommend this book and I enjoyed it... don't waste it.

Smile :)

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting Story!

I absolutely loved Child 44 and was really looking forward to something similar to come after it. That being said this book was again very well written and very interesting, but not quite what I’d expected. It was a little slower and a little harder to get into but once the real story came out it sucked you in just like Child 44. Following Leo and his family into a life that you would never imagine for them, the twist and turns, the love and hate really kept it going. Now time for the final book.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Poor follow-up to Child 44

This book opens with an interesting and believable premise, but quickly turns into a parody of a James Bond movie. Over and over, ridiculous action sequences are inserted that have no bearing on the story, and in some cases they're so sketchy that they had me laughing at loud.

The villains behave in entirely unbelievable ways, and I found myself correctly guessing some of the twists near the end, not because of clues the author had provided, but because the twists were the most ridiculous coincidences I could imagine.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A Man Burdened By His Past

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.

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3 people found this helpful