Synopses & Reviews
is a thriller unlike any you have ever read.
There is no crime.
Stalin's Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals.
But in this society, millions do live in fear...of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty — owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time — sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions. Defending the system from its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force. And no MGB officer is more courageous, conscientious, or idealistic than Leo Demidov.
A war hero with a beautiful wife, Leo lives in relative luxury in Moscow, even providing a decent apartment for his parents. His only ambition has been to serve his country. For this greater good, he has arrested and interrogated.
Then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal — a murderer — is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, his world turned upside down, and every belief he's ever held shattered. The only way to save his life and the lives of his family is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer — much less a serial killer — is in their midst. Exiled from his home, with only his wife, Raisa, remaining at his side, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the MBG to find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists.
"Set in the Soviet Union in 1953, this stellar debut from British author Smith offers appealing characters, a strong plot and authentic period detail. When war hero Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a rising star in the MGB, the State Security force, is assigned to look into the death of a child, Leo is annoyed, first because this takes him away from a more important case, but, more importantly, because the parents insist the child was murdered. In Stalinist Russia, there's no such thing as murder; the only criminals are those who are enemies of the state. After attempting to curb the violent excesses of his second-in-command, Leo is forced to investigate his own wife, the beautiful Raisa, who's suspected of being an Anglo-American sympathizer. Demoted and exiled from Moscow, Leo stumbles onto more evidence of the child killer. The evocation of the deadly cloud-cuckoo-land of Russia during Stalin's final days will remind many of Gorky Park and Darkness at Noon, but the novel remains Smith's alone, completely original and absolutely satisfying. Rights sold in more than 20 countries. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Leo Stepanovich Demidov, the hero of Tom Rob Smith's sensational debut thriller, Child 44, seems to have stepped out of the pages of a classic by Hammett or Chandler....Smith's prose is propulsive but plain; his real genius is his careful plotting. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"[A] debut novel from a shockingly talented 28-year-old Brit....Nerve-wracking pace and atmosphere camouflage wild coincidences. Smashing." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Child 44 powerfully personalizes the Orwellian horrors of life in Stalin's Russia....First-novelist Smith's pacing is relentless; readers wanting to put the book down for a brief rest may find themselves persevering regardless....Don't miss it." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Child 44 is a remarkable debut novel inventive, edgy and relentlessly gripping from the first page to the last." Scott Turow, bestselling author of Presumed Innocent
"An amazing debut rich, different, fully formed, mature...and thrilling." Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Luck and Trouble
"Achingly suspenseful, full of feeling and the twists and turns that one expects from le Carré at his best, Child 44 is a tale as fierce as any Russian wolf. It grabs you by the throat and never lets you go." Robert Towne, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Chinatown
"This is a truly remarkable debut novel. Child 44 is a rare blend of great insight, excellent writing, and a refreshingly original story. Favorable comparisons to Gorky Park are inevitable, but Child 44 is in a class of its own." Nelson DeMille, New York Times bestselling author of Wild Fire
In Stalin's Soviet Union, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer — much less a serial killer — is on the loose. Exiled from his home, a war hero must find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists, in this instant bestseller.
About the Author
Originally from Norbury in South London, the 28-year-old Tom Rob Smith started writing plays in school and continued while he attended Cambridge, from which he graduated in 2001. After spending a year in Italy on a creative writing scholarship, he became assistant story editor for a British soap opera, then moved to Phnom Penh with the BBC to be the story consultant for Cambodia's first soap opera. He currently lives in London.