Paul's Reviews > Child 44

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
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it was ok
bookshelves: fiction

Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

A very readable mystery-thriller set in the Soviet Union at the end of the Stalin era, the heyday of purges and the gulag. The protagonist, Leo, an MGB officer, winds up on the receiving end (in Soviet Union, office politics eats you) and is demoted to a low-level militia (regular police) job in a manufacturing town some distance from Moscow. While there he begins to chase down a serial killer who has been murdering children. Since there is no crime in the workers' paradise, he only gets himself (and his wife, and his parents, and his associates) into deeper trouble.

Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 is similar to Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko novels, though I doubt that was the author's intent. At any rate, I am a great fan of Martin Cruz Smith, and I couldn't help comparing Tom Rob Smith's writing to Martin Cruz Smith's. Tom Rob's Leo is nowhere near as developed or believable as Martin's Arkady, and the situations in Tom Rob's story seem a little contrived compared to those in the Arkady Renko novels ... still, Child 44 is a gripping story, full of tense situations, suspense, and narrow escapes, and along the way one learns much about life in the old Soviet system, particularly how careful everyone had to be, and how dire were the consequences of standing out in any way whatsoever ... in that way it's almost a poor man's Gulag Archipelago (no, just kidding ... Solzhenitsyn actually had to live that shit).

When I first started reading Child 44, I thought it was a young adult novel. Of course it's not, but that reaction on my part probably says more about how Child 44 compares with Gorky Park (or any of Martin Cruz Smith's other Arkady Renko novels) than anything else I can say. If you have access to Child 44, read it. But if you have access to Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko novels, read them first.
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Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Sharon How's it going? Have you gotten to the train scene yet ?

Paul Just finished a section where Leo is following Raisa through the Metro, and in turn being followed himself.

Sharon Well ! What did you think of the journey ? Was it plausible ? Pretty exciting I thought though.

Paul Finished it late last night. Review soon.

Sharon Look forward to it.

Sharon I'll have to read one of those now too just to read a more mature angle as I'm with you in that I felt Child 44 was more YA,and only read it to find out what my son had been reading. At 13 yrs I felt that he understood it and definitely wondered if it was a YA book as you did. I even tried to google it to see which age group it was intended for and yep it's adult but I definitely agree it should have been marketed more at the former group. Even so I really enjoyed it.

Looking forward to reading your recommendation :-)

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