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Child 44 (Leo Demidov #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  47,811 Ratings  ·  4,743 Reviews
In a country ruled by fear, no one is innocent.

Stalin's Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law, but when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the
Mass Market Paperback, 509 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2008)
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Mikey Inglish Being Russian (and not fond of the people in the office, including the current czar) I'd say it's hilarious to read so much bull about Russia. The…moreBeing Russian (and not fond of the people in the office, including the current czar) I'd say it's hilarious to read so much bull about Russia. The problem is not even that there was no hunger or political repression, but the fact that the author [quite cleverly, probably - in order to sell his silly book to the blissfully unaware Western audience] decided to use all 25 000 stereotypes about Russia in general. Like that MGB officer using amphetamine and washing it down with vodka. I mean, really?? On top of that, the language of the book is just pathetic. I tried to read it in English but dropped it almost immediately - it was just unbearable. Now I'm reading it in Russian so at least I won't fall asleep. I am hellbent on finishing just because it's a) about Russia and b) it's [apparently] a best-seller, but I'm not counting on it too much..(less)
Melissa Russoniello I thought the movie did a good job relaying the primary points of the book, but the book immersed you in a way the movie just could not (despite great…moreI thought the movie did a good job relaying the primary points of the book, but the book immersed you in a way the movie just could not (despite great actors). It got you close, but the book really drew you into a world we see in documentaries and made you feel like you were there. Akin to Ayn Rand and "We the living". (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 05, 2009 Zinta rated it it was amazing
If it weren't for the Soviet Union and the blood lust of the Russian communists, I would not exist. My parents were World War II refugees, on the run for their lives from Soviet-occupied Latvia. They arrived in the United States at about the same time, immigrants with nothing but what they wore on their backs, with the most skeletal English language skills. Had they not spotted each other across the room of immigrants and felt drawn one to the other, well, that would have been an entirely differ ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Apr 12, 2015 Shelby *trains flying monkeys* rated it liked it
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: Nick Pageant
3.5 stars

Set at the end of Stalin's reign in 1953 this book was an eye opener for me. I just had no clue.
Living in Russia at that time was when you lived in fear of that four a.m. arrest. Are you an enemy of the state? It didn't really matter if you were truly innocent, once you had been named you might as well kiss it good-bye.
Leo Demidov is a former war hero who works for the MGB or state security force and had always done his job with no questioning of authority.

There was a joke, popular am
Richard Derus
May 03, 2013 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Book Report: In the Socialist Worker's Paradise that is Stalin's 1953 Russia, There Is No Crime. (Sorry, I know that all the caps are like having your lashes tweezed, but this is the Soviet Union we're talking about, and everything is A Slogan.) The proletariat is blissfully free of the Capitalist Curse Called Crime.

They're more afraid of the State than they are each other. With good reason. There are traitors, informants, everywhere. Even in your own bed, you are never saf
4+ Stars Right from the start, Tom Rob Smith introduces us to an inhumane existence of starvation and brutality under Stalin's rule. You can trust no one. Life is Fear. Life is Torture. Innocence does not matter. Life is a matter of Efficiency, more important than Truth.

And while living the unimaginable, there is a mysterious child killer on the loose that Security Officer, Leo Demidov is determined to stop, even after his demotion, even after mind altering drugs, even when he is on t

Oct 06, 2013 Willow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, mystery, russia
Child 44 is one of the best books I’ve read all year. So of course while I was reading, I wanted to tell everybody about it, shout it to the rooftops, fighting the urge to send a recommendation to all my good GR buddies. One of the reasons I didn’t was because I realized that while I was riveted, this book is definitely not for everyone. It’s grim and gristly, and there are a couple of scenes that are like a punch to the gut. In fact, the beginning almost reads like a horror novel. It’s a thrill ...more
Will Byrnes
Apr 23, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it liked it
Smith offers a look into the Soviet Union of 1953, a dark, desperate place in which the state had become a manifestation of Stalin’s paranoia. The ideological need of the state to present the communist ideal as an actualized reality impaired its ability, its willingness to address bad things when they happened, for surely, in this workers’ paradise, such things would never happen. Things like serial killers, things like crime of any sort. Thus all crime is ideological and all criminals are enemi ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Dem rated it it was amazing
Child 44 is one of those books that only come along once in awhile and when it does it makes you exclaim out loud. This novel draws you into the story, the characters are very well drawn and the plot is excellent, one of those book that you just cant put down, I loved this thriller/murder mystery book, it is set in the Soviet Union during Stalin's rule and is loosely based on real life killer Andrei Chikatilo and follows the story through the eyes of Leo Dimidov, the government agent who is tryi ...more
Jul 01, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, read-in-2008
Child 44 is a novel that's hard to figure out where to place on the bookshelf. It's a political thriller, a murder mystery and a horror story all in one. Combining those elements alone would have been enough, but first-time novelist Tom Rob Smith takes is further, setting his story around the time of the death of Stalin in the former Soviet Union. Smith recreates the atmosphere of paranoia, doubt and suspicion of the time and place with ease, adding an extra layer of tension to his story.

On the
Originally posted on The Book Nympho

The story is set in 1953 Russia, shortly before the end of Joseph Stalin's reign of terror. There's evidence of a possible serial killer at large but one of the propaganda "truths" is that Russia is crime free. Leo Demidov, a member of the powerful and feared MGB (predecessor of the KGB), is sent to investigate one of the murders but is instructed to classify it as an accident. It sets off a chain of events that will forever change the man and his life.

I was
Aug 05, 2015 Mish rated it it was amazing
The body of a little boy was discovered along the railway tracks in th city of Moscow, violently mutilated. Leo Demidov, a dedicated MGB officer was ordered by his superiors to tell the grieving family that their boy’s death was an unfortunate accident. The boy’s family were not convinced.

Soon after Leo’s loyalty to the MGB were tested. And as a result, he was demoted and sent off to work with the Militia in an industrial village called Voualsk where another body of a child was found. Without a
Dec 22, 2015 ☯Cathrine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was in the mood for a thriller and picked this up based on GR friends reviews. It did not disappoint. A page turner perfect for a couple of cold rainy days with nothing interesting on TV. The author takes us back to the post-war 1950’s reworking the true story of a Russian serial killer. First of a trilogy that did not leave the reader hanging.Yay! It did not have quite the punch of I Am Pilgrim which I read earlier in the year, but it was not as far fetched either, more authentic with great
Jun 22, 2015 Britany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-to-film
Wow! I finally broke down and added this one due to the high level of great reviews from my GR friends. I'm SO glad that I did!! This is a book that I couldn't get through fast enough. Set in the 1950s, Stalinistic Russia where friends and neighbors are turning each other into the police for ANY suspicious activity or anti-Communist sentiment. The chapters left you hanging for more. I constantly was like "Just one more chapter..." the twists were good and at one point I actually gasped out loud! ...more
Three words: FAB - U - LOUS! So much to love in this multi-genre book--part historical fiction and cultural; part murder mystery/psychological thriller, all my favorites and quite sensational.

It is 1953 in Stalin's Russia and there's a serial killer on the loose. Only that cannot be; Stalin's Russia boasts of being crime free. Therefore, when Leo of the MGB (later known as the KGB) is sent to a colleague's home to investigate the murder of his son, it is not to investigate at all but to sweep it
Nick Pageant
Aug 22, 2015 Nick Pageant rated it really liked it
Shelves: gen-fic
Excellent thriller. I've been reading this very slowly because of RL, but last night I just couldn't stop myself and finished it in one go. I'm not saying anything about it. If you like thrillers, you'll like this. Great book!
Mar 01, 2014 Judy rated it liked it
The culture and history of Stalin-ist Russia enticed me to read this book and they were what kept me reading in spite of a gruesome first chapter and other instances of torture and brutality. The snapshot of the lives of everyday Russian citizens living in fear of the MGB and Soviet government offers some explanation of why most will turn traitor on their own neighbors and even family. Explanation of how miltiamen such as the hero of this book, Leo Demidov, can torture and brutalize his own neig ...more
Jul 06, 2008 Kemper rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Gorky Park or the movie Citizen X.
This well-written book reminded me of Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko series, and a movie based on the true story of a Soviet era serial killer called Citizen X.

The detail about living in the 1950's Soviet Union is very convincing, and characters nicely developed. The book's sole flaw is the reveal of the killer's motives and the ending, which come across as something you'd see in a bad Hollywood thriller, but overall this was a fascinating story.

La Petite Américaine
Well, well, well. Now here's a thriller with a nice twist: a serial killer is on the loose in Stalinist Russia. Except that in Stalinist Russia there is no such thing as crime. Well, except for political crimes like reading banned litterature, looking at someone the wrong way, "plotting" against the state by working too close to a Western embassy, making a drunken joke about Stalin, etc. But murder? No, comrade. Not unless Siberia suddenly sounds good to you.

What you end up with is a fast-paced
May 30, 2008 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was decently written, and a compelling story, but I got the feeling I was reading a screenplay. It was as if the author couldn't be bothered to fully flesh-out a scene, so he's just say "and then they all started shooting and people got killed." Seemed sort of lazy.....
Ahmad Sharabiani
Child 44, Tom Rob Smith
عنوان: کودک 44 - رمان؛ تام راب اسمیت؛ مترجم: نادر قبله ای؛ تهران، مروارید، 1389، در 455 ص؛ شابک: 9789641910923؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی قرن 20 م
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tania by: riaan
For decades no one had taken action according to what they believed was right or wrong but by what they thought would please the leader.

I thought this book was riveting. I couldn't believe it was Tom Rob Smith's debut novel. I especially appreciated how the he combined two genre's (historical fiction and mystery)seamlessly. He painted such an incredibly vivid picture of Stalin's Soviet Union in the 1950's you could really feel the terror, fear and cruelty of a whole country. Friends and family d
Mar 01, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I made a statement when I began this book that who needs to read future based dystopian books when one can read about Russia under Stalin. I stand by that. So we have a murder/thriller/dystopian novel all in one. At least that is how I read this. This is another book that I have had on my shelf and frankly had no understanding what the story was truly about. That seems to by my MO lately. Which so far has worked well.

I found this stressful. Stressful in that the lifestyle as stifling, it unsett
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Quite an impressive first novel. Contains elements of a lot of different genres. A little historical, a mystery, a little horror, and some suspense/thriller.

Apparently there really was a serial killer in Russia in the 1980s that was similar to this fictional one. The author placed the story back in the 1950s instead, right around the time of Stalin's death. Early in the book I thought the author gave an excellent feel for the way it is to live in a closed society. People in Stalinist Russia co
Apr 01, 2015 Loyda marked it as to-read
Shelves: haveto-mustread
Just saw the movie is coming out on April 17th and Tom Hardy is in it...I need to read this book!! It looks so sad too like I'm going to need lots of tissues.
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Nov 25, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an intriguing read, about a serial killer in Russia in 1953, around the time of Stalin's death. An MGB officer is ordered to cover up one of the murders, as it was apparently policy at the time not to admit that crime existed in their 'perfect' society, but he ends up compelled to catch the killer instead.

This is a re-read for me. I originally read it on my Kindle a couple of years ago when it was the book of the month for my workplace Book Club. I enjoyed it then so when I had the chanc
Jun 10, 2015 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, fiction, high-five
3 syllables. Tom Rob Smith.

Being and living in the US South all of my life, this name could easily be perceived as a stereotypical, blindly ignorant, backwoods boy with barely a 6th grade education. Perhaps, a character in one of Cormac McCarthy’s novels about modern day Appalachia.

As I said, “perceived”. He is far from it. Being educated at University of Cambridge, he not only went to a very prestigious school, but shows great skill in writing technique and has the knack for keeping the read
Mar 13, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: MGB Agents and other Russians
The first chapter starts with a pair of starving children in a Russian village in the 1930s, hunting a scrawny, skeletal cat, possibly the last surviving creature on four legs in the region. Catching it may be life or death for them, and I was hooked right from the start. Child 44 is a brutal book, despite a relative lack of gore. It's actually not the rampant starvation and devastation of World War II framing the hard early lives of the characters that make the book most brutal, nor is it the c ...more
Mar 28, 2016 Vaso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book back in 2011, so I think is time to review it. This book is set to Stalinist Russia and considers to be a mystery-thriller book. Children are being murdered by a serial killer. Leo, being a former MGB agent with conscious, takes this case personally and is trying to solve it. Tom Rob Smith made an excellent job while writing this book, because he makes reader get the feeling of that time frame. A great historical thriller may I say!!
Mar 02, 2016 Ctgt rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, crime-noir
This was a satisfying story on a couple of levels. First is the setting and timeframe. Early fifties in the Soviet Union just at the end of Stalin's life. Leo Demidov, former war hero and now member of the MGB(state security...this department has such a convoluted history-Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, NKGB, NKVD again, NKGB-MGB, MGB and finally KGB) is called to the home of a colleague whose son was recently killed. It has been declared an accident by the state but the family believes it was murder. This s ...more
Apr 12, 2016 George rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
Αγορασμένο από παλαιοβιβλιοπωλείο πριν από τεσσεράμισι χρόνια, το βιβλίο του Τομ Ρομπ Σμιθ έπιανε τόσο καιρό σκόνη στην βιβλιοθήκη μου για κάποιο άγνωστο λόγο. Τελικά αποφάσισα να το διαβάσω. Δεν κράτησε και πολύ, έτσι καλογραμμένο, ενδιαφέρον και εθιστικό όπως ήταν, μέσα σε δυο μέρες το ξεπέταξα. Είχα ακούσει πολλά και καλά λόγια για το βιβλίο αυτό, οπότε περίμενα να διαβάσω κάτι καλό. Τελικά δεν μου φάνηκε μονάχα καλό, αλλά κάτι πολύ παραπάνω.

Λίγα λόγια για το πλαίσιο της ιστορίας: Βρισκόμαστε
A thrilling and interesting read, combining history with mystery. Some parts were awesome, others dragged a bit for me - I feel as though it could easily have been shorter.
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Tom Rob Smith (born 1979) is an English writer. The son of a Swedish mother and an English father, Smith was raised in London where he lives today. After graduating from Cambridge University in 2001, he completed his studies in Italy, studying creative writing for a year. After these studies, he worked as a scriptwriter.

His first novel, Child 44, about a series of child murders in Stalinist Russia
More about Tom Rob Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Leo Demidov (3 books)
  • The Secret Speech (Leo Demidov, #2)
  • Agent 6 (Leo Demidov, #3)

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“To stand up for someone was to stitch your fate into the lining of theirs.” 50 likes
“There's nothing more stubborn than a fact. That is why you hate them so much. They offend you.” 46 likes
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