Christine's Reviews > The Secret Speech

The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
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Apr 13, 2015

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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 the criminals are becoming heroes. Leo Demidov has felt that way in his own home since he and his wife adopted their two daughters. The eldest, Zoya, has come to love his wife Raisa but still can only see Leo as the man responsible for her father’s murder by the state. But Zoya is not the only one with a personal grudge against Leo, soon enough a person from his past surfaces and wants revenge. What better way to get revenge than to do to Leo what he did to her – put his family in danger – unless he salvages what is left of hers.

This sends Leo on an almost impossible mission of trying to break in to a Gulag and then escape with the man he sent there. At the same time Raisa is taking a different path to saving Zoya that eventually finds all of them reunited in the middle of the Hungarian revolution.

I can only imagine that the problem for an author deciding to write a sequel to a very successful and highly praised book would be whether to carry on the action or try to top it. I think in the case of The Secret Speech Mr. Smith may have chosen the wrong option. I loved Child 44 and was looking forward to reading this next book. I wasn’t disappointed as it had many of the qualities that I enjoyed in Child 44; the history was nicely interwoven into the story, I liked the continuation of the story of Leo’s family and even the intrigue was there though the action throughout the book felt a little bit forced. That is where the book dropped a notch for me. The suspense and apprehension when reading about the fear the characters felt in having to look over their shoulders at every turn was not there in this book. Yes, Leo and Raisa were once more trying to save their daughters as well as themselves but in Child 44 it was a “run for your life” feeling and in this book I felt that Leo had become a little bit of a super-hero figure.

It was a good read and I enjoyed it – simply not as much as the first in the trilogy. (On I go to the third book, Agent 6)
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 8, 2015 – Finished Reading
April 13, 2015 – Shelved
April 13, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015-reads

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