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The Secret Speech

(Leo Demidov #2)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  15,679 ratings  ·  1,411 reviews
Former state security officer Leo Demidov is struggling to change as the Soviet Union changes around him. The two young girls he adopted have yet to forgive him for his part in the death of their parents, and they are not alone; now that the truth is out, Leo and his family are in grave danger from someone consumed by the dark legacy of Leo's past.

Tom Rob Smith - the
Hardcover, 407 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published April 6th 2009)
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Dimitra Karantassis I think Child 44 was just perfect.... To me The secret speech had something of James Bond.... too much action !

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  15,679 ratings  ·  1,411 reviews

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(B) 73% | More than Satisfactory
Notes: After a promising first third it veers way off course. Set amidst real history, some parts are too absurd to be plausible.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
The rating is actually 3.5 but I have no choice to round it off to 4 as 3 would have been a little less than what the book deserves.

I consider myself lucky because this novel is available in my library along with the final book in the trilogy. The Secret Speech is the second book in the Leo Demidov trilogy and it follows Child 44.

This novel takes us back to the bleak world of the former USSR where people betray their friends, neighbors, colleagues and even family to the state. A slip of tongue
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
This novel was a lot more politically motivated then the previous one and serves a good sense of the internal conflict the citizens felt under Stalin's reign. The plot and events of this novel lead to the 1956 uprising in Hungary 3 years after Stalin’s death.

“The system required the consent of everyone, even if they consented by doing nothing.”
― Tom Rob Smith

Leo Demidov is now leading his own homicide department and lives with his wife Raisa and two adopted girls Zoya and Elena whom they try
Jun 22, 2015 rated it liked it
The second book in the Leo Demidov series picks up shortly after the fall of Stalin, Russia in the 1950s. I was excited to pick this one up, because I loved the first book, and it didn't disappoint off the bat. It held up keeping a quick pace and just as action packed as the first. Suddenly, around the second half, it's almost as though the writing was completely different. The chapter cliffhangers ended and the book turned into a sappy narrative, rather than leaving me wanting more. Don't get ...more
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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, ...more
Jun 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Paul E. Morph
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5starbooks
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.

Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[ 3.5 ] I loved this book for the most part. It's always incredibly insightful to find out about how a period in our history lived, to see that politics always seemed to be a dirty game of manipulation and power and how that still isn't changing. History does repeat itself. The character exploration and the writing was such a joy to read and extremely well done.

It's just the ending that just didn't sit well with me. It felt rushed and not as detailed as the other parts. It just reminded me of
Narrated by Colin Mace. 13 hrs and 52 mins

Description: Soviet Union, 1956: Stalin is dead. With his passing, a violent regime is beginning to fracture - leaving behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent.

The catalyst comes when a secret manifesto composed by Stalin's successor, Khrushchev, is distributed to the entire nation. Its message: Stalin was a tyrant and a murderer. Its promise: The Soviet Union will transform. But there are forces at work that
Keep your pants on people, Leo Stepanovich Demidov is back again! And I love him a little more than I did in the previous book.
So where to begin? Like I said, Leo's back, with his wife Raisa and his newly adopted daughters--well not newly, it's been 3 years now-- Zoya and Elena(in Russian, that would be pronounced with a "Y"- Yelena). And now it's no longer a matter of political oppression or living a life in constant fear of the 4:00am arrest; Times are changing, powers are being
Carol Storm
Dec 20, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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.
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star, 2018
Lost a lot of interest halfway through the book. I kept reading in case it picked up but it never did. I really wanted to read Child 44, but now I'm not so sure. There's just something about this guy's writing style that I don't like/find mundane.
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
This is the second book in the Leo Demidov mystery series. Demidov is an ex-KGB officer, who, after the last book was allowed to form a Criminal Investigation division, as he tries to amend for his work as a KGB officer. The story starts with an incident from Demidov's past, an incident where he infiltrates a local priest and causes his arrest and that of the priest's wife. As we move to the present, these events come back to haunt him, everything instigated by a secret letter from Kruschev, ...more
Richard Derus
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, crime
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
A Girl Has No Name
3 stars - good, but not as good as the first installment in this series!

Child 44 has been one of the best books I read this year and I was really looking forward to meet Leo Dimidov once again. And I did enjoy this book, it just wasn't as good as the first one. The plot was a little less credible - maybe the author wanted a little too much here. The setting of Kolyma was very interesting and I felt that the second part of the books was a little rushed. I still like Leo Dimidov a lot as a
Julie Christine
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...
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s a tricky one, books like these. Do you (or should you say you) enjoy(ed) it, as some do on cover? Or should you describe it as exciting, as they do on the cover? That, after reading this and books on the whole Soviet era in Russia, is almost, well, it does seem like you’re denigrating what was a real life or death struggle for survival, to entertainment. Entertainment is of course what you, at least in part, read books for, but also to educate yourself, surely. I do anyway. Hopefully, the ...more
Alondra Miller
4 Stars

“If you can take a step up, can you not also take a step down? If you can do wrong can you not also do good? Can I not try and put right the wrongs that I have done?” This sums up Leo's existence, even though another character stated these lines. Leo; our anti-hero from the first book; is trying to make good, do right, be honest, be open; and it pretty much is not working. Does this mean he doesn't deserve a second chance? In some ways, yes, he certainly does. Yet, he does not when it
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
La Petite Américaine
Feb 22, 2009 rated it did not like it

The brilliance of Child 44 came from two simple and intertwined themes: the nightmare of Stalinist Russia which created an environment of mistrust and betrayal. In Child 44, a child serial killer is running rampant, there's mystery the of the children at the beginning of the story, and the tyrannical government that turns its own people into traitors. To put it simply, the bad guys were nowhere and everywhere all at once, and you had no idea who was who.

And along came Khrushchev ... and
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Leo Demidov (3 books)
  • Child 44 (Leo Demidov, #1)
  • Agent 6 (Leo Demidov, #3)
“The system required the consent of everyone, even if they consented by doing nothing.” 3 likes
“—I need to meet you.” 1 likes
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