Tapestrymlp's Reviews > Child 44

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
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Jan 11, 12

bookshelves: fiction, general-fiction, historical-fiction, read-in-2012
Read from January 02 to 05, 2012

Leo is a NKD officer in Moscow, one of the elite investigators under Stalin's rule responsible for bringing enemies of the state and subversives to justice. Everyone is guilty, it's just a matter of finding out what they are guilty of. However, when Leo stumbles onto several cases where small children have been murdered in a similar manner he begins to suspect that a serial killer is attacking Russia's children - something that is unthinkable in the communist utopia where murder isn't supposed to exist.

I would actually give this book a 3.5 as it's not quite a 4 for me but also not quite a 3. This was a fascinating novel that looks at Russia in the time after World War II. One part historical novel, one part action thriller and one part mystery this book was beautifully written. The pacing is good, the plot reasonably laid out and the characters engaging. I like the history aspect of the novel more than the crime and mystery aspects. There are a few issues however - in the later part of the book too many things seem to happen because the author needs them to and not as a natural outgrowth of earlier events. Further the ending is too neatly tied up and feels false, diminishing the rest of the book.

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When Leo turns out to be Pavel I wanted to throw up my hands and yell WTF at the author. It felt unnecessary and contrived. Also, HOW does Andre recognize Pavel in the newspaper photograph? It has been YEARS since he saw his brother and Leo is never described as having any features that really stand out, any deformities that would be peculiar to him or perhaps physical traits such as a mole on the face, etc. That also felt contrived.

One other thing, how does Vasily know which house to go to catch Leo in the end? Leo looked at files on several people. Were there back up files? And why did Vasily have such a grudge against Leo - that was also never adequately explained.

Lastly, the ending was way, way too pat with both Leo and his wife walking away utterly free and no real consequence for anything that happened.
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