Excellent #Thriller with secrets, intrigue and more than a few twists. A gripping read about the starvation and brutality under Stalin.- Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44

By Tom Rob Smith

PBR Book Review:

This is an incredible debut novel. I really canít say enough about it. The plot is strong and fast paced. The character development is awesome and you don't have to wait long to be drawn into the book as it builds quickly. Once you are pulled in, itís hard to put down, itís a page turner. I also love that itís fact based, as I find it intriguing to read about historical evens in an entertaining manner, but it also lends a sense of reality to everything.

A real strength of this story is that there are multiple layers to hold your interest, each one intriguing and intense. One thread is based on the story of Russia's first serial killer and a bureaucratic system that is in denial, refusing to acknowledge or investigate, murders simply cannot exist, thus providing the perfect environment for more murders. I found myself in disbelief that this type of thinking could exist in a Nation. Woven in is also a fascinating account of what life held for the Soviet people under Stalin's regime.

A life of constantly watching your back, trusting no one and living in fear, a witness to the worst humanity has to offer. To question the state was tantamount to a death sentence with a torture prelude. Trust no one, not your neighbor, your friend, your wife, your parents, no one. Again, where was the rest of the world when this was happening? In short, a great, great read with lots of twists and turns, suspense and intrigue. I did find some of the violence too graphic but don't let that stop you up from reading the book, there is not that much of it. The film rights to Child 44 have been sold to director Ridley Scott.
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*Discussion Questions

1. Leo's character evolves over the course of the book. What do you see as the most significant catalyst for change?

2. What propels Leo to go forward in his quest for the murderer: fear, compassion, or a sense of justice?

3. The relationship between Vasili and Leo is contentious from the beginning. Does Vasili feel pure hate, contempt, or jealousy for Leo? Why?

4. When Raisa reveals the truth of their marriage to Leo, were you surprised at his reaction? Would you have made similar choices under the circumstances? When does personal conviction trump duty and loyalty?

5. Who do you think was ultimately responsible for incriminating Raisa. What would it be like to live in a society in which everyone is under suspicion of crimes against the state?

6. Does the book's portrayal of life in a totalitarian state remind you of any other books?

7. In 1953, the year of Stalin's death, there were 2,468,524 prisoners in the Gulag system. Do you think that legacy affects Russian culture today?

8. Which character's duplicity or innocence did you find most surprising, and why?

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)

Book Summary

In Stalin's Soviet Union, crime does not exist. But still millions live in fear. The mere suspicion of disloyalty to the State, the wrong word at the wrong time, can send an innocent person to his execution.

Officer Leo Demidov, an idealistic war hero, believes he's building a perfect society. But after witnessing the interrogation of an innocent man, his loyalty begins to waver, and when ordered to investigate his own wife, Raisa, Leo is forced to choose where his heart truly lies.

Then the impossible happens. A murderer is on the loose, killing at will, and every belief Leo has ever held is shattered. Denounced by his enemies and exiled from home, with only Raisa by his side, he must risk everything to find a criminal that the State won't admit even exists. On the run, Leo soon discovers the danger isn't from the killer he is trying to catch, but from the country he is trying to protect.

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