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The Secret Speech (Leo Demidov, #2)
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The Secret Speech (Leo Demidov #2)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  8,362 ratings  ·  920 reviews
The Soviet Union 1956: after Stalin's death, a violent regime is beginning to fracture. It leaves behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. Stalin's successor Khrushchev pledges reform. But there are forces at work that are unable to forgive or forget the past.

Leo Demidov, former MGB officer, is facing his own turmoil. The two yo
Hardcover, 407 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2009)
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Jillian I have only read books 1 and 2 so far, and I enjoyed book 2 (The Secret Speech) even better than Child 44. I really liked them both though. I'm going…moreI have only read books 1 and 2 so far, and I enjoyed book 2 (The Secret Speech) even better than Child 44. I really liked them both though. I'm going on my lunch today to pick up Agent 6, and I can't wait!(less)
Love Is Never Past Tense... by Janna YeshanovaChild 44 by Tom Rob SmithCity of Thieves by David BenioffDoctor Zhivago by Boris PasternakThe Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
Russian/Soviet Historical Fiction
5th out of 48 books — 69 voters
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The "Can't Wait" Book of '09
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It’s shocking how many people will commit atrocities and cruelty provided the actions are respected, sanctioned by the governing forces, and the persecutors are well paid. History is splattered with incidents like this, and while I do believe a lot of this blind obedience or indifference comes from the way persecutors were raised as children, it’s obvious other variables come into consideration. As human beings, we tend to lean toward societal norms, so if it’s part of a society to persecute, th ...more
No sophomore slump for Tom Rob Smith. The Secret Speech is better than Child 44.

“The Secret Speech” continues from where “Child 44” left off. Leo and Raisa are living with their two adopted girls, Zoya and Elena. But Zoya hates Leo for killing her parents and is seeking revenge. Meanwhile, Leo and Raisa are desperately trying to hold their family together.

While the troubles are brewing in the mismatched family, a new character, Fraera, yet another ghost from Leo’s guilt laden past comes back t
This was brilliant.

I loved Child 44. Gave it 4 stars. I didn't believe people when they said that this was better.

It is. I could hardly put this book down, and yet I read it slowly savoring every twist in plot, every nuance of the characters growth.

This is one of THOSE books. One that will stay with you and make you question what you would do in the situation that the characters are in. There are no easy answers and you're swept along as these three dimensional people search for any answer.

Is it possible for someone who has committed terrible crimes to achieve redemption? That is the central question posed by Tom Rob Smith's riveting new book, The Secret Speech, sequel to last year's terrific, terrifying, and surprisingly moving, Child 44.

The Secret Speech opens in 1949, with young Leo Demidov's first case as an officer in the MGB, Stalin's secret police. Leo betrays a dissident priest and his wife, sending them both to the Gulag.

Flash forward to 1956; Leo is struggling to run S
After being amazed by Child 44, I immediately put this, the next book in the series, on hold. While there are the expected similarities of characters, time, and place, this one did not measure up in the suspense department. And Leo has a few too many adventures and narrow escapes, in my opinion.
Still, Smith has an admirable ability to illustrate the paranoia and tumult of the post-Stalin period. His description of the Soviet citizens' reactions to Khrushev's Secret Speech, in which Stalin's sins
So disappointed in this sequel to Child 44--a fascinating thriller set in Stalinist Soviet Union with an MGB officer hunting a serial killer under a political regime which denies the possibility that such a killer could exist. The Secret Speech features the same officer, now a homicide investigator, post-Stalinist under Khrushchev, trying to rescue his kidnapped adopted daughter who despises him. In Child 44 the characters were credible and dimensional; in The Secret Speech they are ridiculous c ...more
Good read. Fast-paced and exciting with so many twists and turns I was on the edge of my seat. This is the second novel I have read by this author and enjoy the character of Leo Demitov, former MGB officer. This novel explores the horrific tension of those living in post WW11 Russia. Not quite at the level of the first book which I gave 5 stars, but still very good. I look forward to the third book in the trilogy.
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.625* of five

This series of books, the life of Leo and Raisa in a newly post-Stalinist USSR, is cold and damp and gritty and scary. Those are the *good* parts of the life of these two oddly assorted people, who are trying to form a family from some very unlikely and unnatural and uncomfortable pieces. (Sounds like my family!)

This outing centers on events set in motion by the (factual) secret speech of the title: Khrushchev's "private" deunciation of Stalin's terror. While never reported
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Not as gripping as Child 44. Well written but poorly organized, such that it's difficult to figure out what the real plot was intended to be. It does carry forward the main characters from Child 44, so if you want to stay "in the loop," so to speak, you need to read this one to be ready for the next one. It's not really a series, at least not yet, but the two books definitely follow a linear trajectory, so it may turn into a series of sorts.
I was a huge fan of Smith’s first book, Child 44. That novel was grounded by an actual historical character, the serial killer of the (mostly) 1980’s, Andrei Chikatilo. This novel, while a real “page turner”, lacked that same grounding, and consequently was all over the place, often pushing credibility to its outer limits. The book’s strengths are not dissimilar to Child 44. That is, capturing the atmosphere of the Soviet Union in the 1950’s and, in this case, how the guilty (that is, those who ...more
Instinctively, I must have known, there was a pretty damn good reason, I was avoiding this book. I read Child 44, five long years ago. I absolutely loved that debut. This one...well, it begins okay, as we revisit
former MGB officer, Leo Demidov, the hero of Child 44. It is 1956. Stalin is dead and Khrushchev is on the rise. He pledges reform but the horrific ghosts of the past, refuse to relent. Leo is drawn into hellish retribution, involving an uprising, putting his family in grave peril. The
Stephen Hayes
The protagonist of this book is Moscow homicide detective Leo Demidov, who also featured in Tom Rob Smith's earlier book, Child 44. But though there is plenty of homicide in this book, there is little detecting. This is not a whodunit.

The bulk of the book is set in the period of the "Khrushchev thaw" in the Soviet Union, when, in his eponymous secret speech to the 20th Communist Party Congress, Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin's dictatorship, the police state, and the Stalinist policy of arbi
Secret speech: A book of two halves, as they say. The first half, technically about two thirds, was great. The author portrayed well the confusion and chaos wrought on Russian society by Khrushchev’s 1955 secret speech in which he condemned Stalin’s repression and mass executions. The effect on the militias and secret police, especially as ordinary people start to take revenge, is well thought out, interesting and original. Equally, the secondary plot where the hard-liner pro-Stalin group who op ...more
Carol Storm
I stopped reading this book half way through, but I just want to post a review to warn people that this CHILD 44 sequel is not up there with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or THE GODFATHER PART II. It's more like ROCKY 2.

In the last book, KGB enforcer Leo Demidov was the ultimate bad-ass, somewhere between Charles Bronson and Charlie Manson. One minute he's beating up his own agents and the next he's sprinting through knee high snow drifts hopped up on biker crank, then swimming under a frozen river li
Whew! What a ride. It took me a while to get through tis. Some parts I had to re-read over and over to make sure that I was getting it right. This was such an incredible story of survival. I just fell in live with Leo, and his whole world, desperate though it may have been, I almost wish I had known him. There were times during all three if these books I felt that I did. His love for Raisa and debt to Zoya kept him from going completely mad as his world around him fell to pieces. The Soviet Unio ...more
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That's a Law. When Kruschev releases a secret speech denouncing the crimes of Stalinism, the reactions of the people who were victimized under his government is just what Sir Isaac Newton would have predicted. However, former secret police officer, Leo Demidov, seeks to lead a good life among the people he has now been identified as persecuting. His journey takes him to distant gulags, sinking prison ships, and revolutionary Hungary. Aft ...more
3.5 stars.
Plausibility stretched to the nth degree, yet Smith keeps a tight rein on the tension. This does not have the grip and grit of Child 44, but it moves at a fast clip while still providing fascinating historical context. Perfect holiday read. Unless you're in Russia...
Tudor Ciocarlie
A solid summer thriller, but the number of deaths and the constant physical and psychological pain are almost to much to bear.
Marianna Neal
As seen on Impression Blend

The title of The Secret Speech refers to a real-life event: the new Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev giving a shocking speech in which he acknowledged Stalin's crimes. This new political climate in the country sets an interesting backdrop for the story, puts certain things in motion, and leaves some characters in a questionable position based on their previous actions. The story opens with an important event in Leo's past—his first assignment, and later in the book we s
It is now 1956 and Stalin’s Police state is becoming a thing of the past. Khrushchev has written “The Secret Speech” delivered in written form to schools, the police, government officials and other people in the position of being able to quietly share it. Basically the speech identifies Stalin as a tyrant and murderer and promises that Khrushchev will usher in a more humane and peaceful regime. The result of the sudden government about face is that the police are now treated like criminals and t ...more
Banafsheh Serov
Former MGB officer Leo Demidov returns in this fast paced action packed novel. Three years after Child 44, the Soviet Union is undergoing dramatic change. Stalin is dead and his successor Khrushchev pledges an end to the violent regime via a secret speech. A speech that once known to the general public, will reveal the extent of the cruelty and torture inflicted on the Soviet people.

In the midst of such potential upheavel, Leo finds himself yet on another impossible mission, fighting to save his
A really great follow-up to Child 44. My review is posted at

The year is 1956. Leo Demidov is heading up the homicide department in Moscow. Leo is trying to make a good life for his wife Raisa and the two girls that the couple has adopted. Elena is the youngest and is happy with Leo and Raisa. Zoya is older and has bitter memories of the death of her biological family. Zoya holds Leo responsible for the death of her parents and her hatred goes deeper than Leo and Raisa
The book's historical premises are v. interesting. One (don't know if true, have not checked): that Khrushchov's speech at the party congress following Stalin's death was a stark indictment of the secret police and the denunciation-based culture of terror which made the Stalinist Soviet society one of the sickest places on earth, which was edited in a later published version in a way that placed all the blame for "mistakes that were made" at Stalin's feet. Another, (again, no idea if true, but I ...more
I have read Child 44 and thought it truly was a great fast paced read. I have been looking forward to reading this book for sometime and finally got round to it. I was slightly disappointed by The Secret Speech due to the fact I didn't think it was as fast paced as the previous book. Perhaps the book has been written to quickly after the previous book. The Secret Speech starts where the Child 44 ended but begins with a tale from Leo's Mgb days

The majority of the novel is historical accurate and
Child 44, the author's first book was a thrilling read if not entirely believable. This sequel is preposterous. Although Smith writes great action scenes, his characters tend to be one dimensional and wooden and the plotlines are so absurd that it is impossible to suspend disbelief.
I gave it three stars because the setting of Russia in the 50s transitioning from Stalin to Krushchev is well drawn, with action in the Gulags, in Budapest and in Moscow. However, the plot itself is so totally muddled
Set in the USSR in the post-Stalinist era when state officials and regular citizens alike are beginning to question the brutal regime, this book tells a story of a climate of change through the voice of a former NKVD agent, his wife, their two adopted daughters orphaned because of the death of their parents at the hands of the state and members of the Vory, a organized group of rebels against the state. It is a fast paced thriller/mystery complete with lots of turns and twists of fate. What you ...more
Vasilis Kalandaridis
Μετά το παιδί 44 ήθελα να σιγουρευτώ για την πένα του Τομ Ρομπ Σμιθ.Ναι ο τύπος γράφει απίστευτα.Η δράση του βιβλίου σ'αρπαζει από το λαιμό στην πρώτη σελίδα και σ'αφηνει την στιγμή που φτάνεις στο τέλος.Η ρωσική θηριωδία απλωμένη σε 580 σελίδες που διαβάζονται άνετα.Εξαιρετικό ενδιαφέρον έχει το κομμάτι με τη ζωή στα γκουλαγκ.Αυτά.
Leo Demidov is forced to confront the actions he took as a secret policemen earlier in his career as one of the persecuted comes back with a vengeance to destroy him, his family, and if possible, the system that allowed him and others to rule with an iron first. Fast paced.
Anthony Fitzgerald
WOW!!!!!! I'm not gonna write much since no one else has read this as of this posting, but HOLY CRAP this was an amazing read! So much fun, non stop action and suspense the entire way through!!
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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
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Other Books in the Series

Leo Demidov (3 books)
  • Child 44 (Leo Demidov, #1)
  • Agent 6 (Leo Demidov, #3)
Child 44 (Leo Demidov, #1) The Farm Agent 6 (Leo Demidov, #3) Tom Rob Smith Trilogy Child 44 and The Secret Speech: Digital Omnibus Edition

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