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A good read
Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith
Member Name: justathought
Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith
Date: 24/03/10, updated on 30/09/12 (7 review reads)
Advantages: interesting, gripping
Disadvantages: not well written in some places
The reason I read this book was that there had been a lot of hype about it and because my sister bought it!
Taken from the interview on amazon.co.uk because I don't trust myself not to give too much away:
Child 44 is a thriller set in the terror of 1950s Stalinist Russia, a brutal regime that executed anyone who disagreed with its dogma. It proclaimed to be a perfect society. So, when a series of brutal murders take place, no one is permitted to say that these are the work of a serial killer. In a perfect society there can be no crime.
One man, Leo Demidov, a State security agent, a man who has spent his entire career arresting innocent men and women, decides to redeem himself by catching this killer. To do so, he must buck the system, risking his life and the life of everyone he loves.
I really enjoyed reading this book - it was very much page turner and none of it dragged - there was a lot of suspense.
Because my knowledge of the history of Stalinist Russia is not great, I would not be able to say whether the portrayal was completely correct, but the author did a great job of setting the scene and gives a lot of descriptive and evocative imagery, and portrays the bleakness of the weather and the surroundings well.
Because there were not too many characters, the book was easy to follow.
The main character was Leo, who I could sympathise with but didn't find completely believable.
The killer is slowly revealed throughout the book and is described quite a lot but I felt there were a few contradictions in the character.
Leo's wife, Raisa is another character who is revealed slowly throughout the book. At first she seems very quiet and passive but is revealed to be quite feisty, which I liked - but towards the end of the book, I think the author forgets this and seems to make her boring again!
Vasili is an agent who Leo has to work with - he takes great pleasure in being sadistic and inflicting physical and emotional pain on others - at times he is so villainous though, that he turns into a bit of a caricature.
If you wanted to read something that you could finish quite quickly and that would keep your interest, I would recommend this book.
However, I found the style of dialogue a little irritating - each line of dialogue has a hyphen at the beginning, and is in italics - I felt like everyone in the book was talking telepathically! It did give emphasis and seriousness to the dialogue though, which I suppose was the author's reason for doing this.
Reading the book, I felt like it had been written with the intention of being made into a film (which it is).
I also felt like some of the 'scenes' in the book were a bit too gory and sadistic - I suppose this is true of a lot of thriller books, but I sometimes wonder if it is wrong to encourage detailed descriptions of torture etc.
I liked this book for its description of Stalinist Russia - such a contrast in comparison to the justice and right to free speech we have now, and for the interesting story.
Summary: worth a read