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The Secret Speechby Tom Rob Smith
Synopses & Reviews
Tom Rob Smith — the author whose debut, Child 44, has been called "brilliant" (Chicago Tribune), "remarkable" (Newsweek) and "sensational" (Entertainment Weekly) — returns with an intense, suspenseful new novel: a story where the sins of the past threaten to destroy the present, where families must overcome unimaginable obstacles to save their loved ones, and where hope for a better tomorrow is found in the most unlikely of circumstances...
Soviet Union, 1956. Stalin is dead, and a violent regime is beginning to fracture — leaving behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. A secret speech composed by Stalin's successor Khrushchev is distributed to the entire nation. Its message: Stalin was a tyrant. Its promise: The Soviet Union will change.
Facing his own personal turmoil, former state security officer Leo Demidov is also struggling to change. The two young girls he and his wife Raisa adopted have yet to forgive him for his part in the death of their parents. They are not alone. Now that the truth is out, Leo, Raisa, and their family are in grave danger from someone consumed by the dark legacy of Leo's past career. Someone transformed beyond recognition into the perfect model of vengeance.
From the streets of Moscow in the throes of political upheaval, to the Siberian gulags, and to the center of the Hungarian uprising in Budapest, The Secret Speech is a breathtaking, epic novel that confirms Tom Rob Smith as one of the most exciting new authors writing today.
"Set in 1956, bestseller Smith's edgy second thriller to feature Leo Demidov (after Child 44) depicts the paranoia and instability of the Soviet Union after the newly installed Khrushchev regime leaks a 'secret speech' laying out Stalin's brutal abuses. Now working as a homicide detective, Leo has long since repudiated his days as an MGB officer, but his former colleagues, fearful of reprisals from their victims, have begun taking their own lives. Leo himself becomes the target of Fraera, the wife of a priest he imprisoned. Now the leader of a violent criminal gang, Fraera kidnaps Leo's daughter, Zoya, and threatens to kill Zoya if Leo doesn't liberate her husband from his gulag prison. Shifting from Moscow to Siberia and to a Hungary convulsed by revolution, this fast-paced novel is packed with too many incidents for Smith to dwell on any in great depth. Though its drama often lacks emotional resonance, this story paints a memorable portrait of post-Stalinist Russia at its dawn." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Smith's plotting is elaborate, and his pacing is relentless. His characters are wonderfully drawn, and the near-nonstop action is utterly gripping....[A] harrowing novel, but everyone who loved Child 44 will leap to read it." Booklist (starred review)
"In Smith's hands scenes attain a pulse of exhilaration worthy of Dickens by way of Conrad...a broadening of moral scope and thematic richness...rendered with passionate and indelible precision." Dennis Lehane, The New York Times Book Review
"A superb thriller, full of pitch-perfect atmosphere." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[A]n expertly crafted story as powerful and addictive as its predecessor....The Secret Speech is the antidote to the assembly-line thrillers that are so common these days. Do not miss it." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Smith's ability to cast a light on hope and caring in even that most dismal of places is but one factor that makes The Secret Speech a masterpiece." BookReporter.com
"Tom Rob Smith's breathlessly paced The Secret Speech goes even further than last year's acclaimed Child 44 in capturing the mood of the Cold War-era Soviet Union." USA Today
Smith's first novel, Child 44, was one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year. Now the author returns with a new thriller set in the turmoil and upheaval of the post-Stalinist Soviet Union.
Thomas Danforth has lived a fortunate life. The son of a wealthy importer, he traveled the world in his youth, and now, in his twenties, he lives in New York City and runs the family business. It is 1939, and the world is on the brink of war, but Danforths life is untroubled, his future assured. Then, on a snowy evening walk along Gramercy Park, a friend poses a fateful question.
As it turns out, this friend has a dangerous idea that can change the world. Danforth is to provide a place where a “brilliant woman” can receive training in firearms and explosives. This is to be the beginning of an international plot carried out by the mysterious Anna Kleina plot that will ensnare Danforth in more ways than one. When the plan goes wrong and Klein disappears, Danforths quest begins: it is a journey of ever-shifting alliances and betrayals that will lead him across a war-torn world in search of answers. Now in his ninety-first year, at the dawn of a troubled new era, he sits in luxury at the Century Club and tells his tale to the young man from Washington he has summoned, for reasons of his own, to hear it.
About the Author
Tom Rob Smith graduated from Cambridge University in 2001 and lives in London. His first novel, Child 44, was a New York Times bestseller and an international publishing sensation. Among its many honors, Child 44 won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
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