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 oppose Khrushchev’s reforms and want the army to remain strong is very plausible, and is well woven into the story. The descriptions of the gulags and the trip to them also fits well into the whole concept.
What does not fit well is the move of the story to Hungary for the Hungarian uprising in 1956. This made no sense. It jarred on the senses, and, while it allowed an ending to be created, did not add anything to what had been a well-rounded book. Sorry, it went from 4.5 Stars back to 3.