Charlottellamae CBR5 Book Review #3 Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith is an exciting, gripping novel set in Stalinist Russia. The novel’s twist and turn will keep you guessing to the very last page.
Child 44 is the story of Leo Demidov, a MGB agent, whose job is to keep control and prevent disloyalty to Russia. Disloyalty runs the range from owning a book from “the west” to speaking to the wrong person at the wrong time. Leo is sent to on of his subordinates house to inform them that their son died in an accident. The subordinate, Fyodor, is telling people that his son was murdered. As Leo knows, this cannot be true because there is no crime in Russia. When everyone is equal how could there be crime? Leo then discovers another murder very similar to that of Fyodor’s son. Leo realizes that there is one man murdering children throughout Russia. But how is he going to stop a man, that according to the government, does not exist?
This book is a very stereotypical crime thriller except for one major thing, the setting. If this book was not set in 1950’s Stalinist Russia it wold be fine but entirely forgettable
However, with the added drama of continuously having to watch what you say has made all the difference. This was a time where if you said there was a crime you were being disloyal to the state and therefore you must be a spy. At best, you were sent to the gulags for hard labor. At worst, you were forced to confess that you were a spy and then executed without a trial. Then there was the added bonus that if you were a spy then your whole family probably was too, so they would be executed as well.
Child 44 is loosely based on the life of Andrei Chikatilo, also known as the Rostov Ripper. This book has everything you could ask for: intrigue, huge plot twists, politics, and of course, cannibalism. I thought this book was absolutely brilliant and definitely should be read by many. If only to get a glimpse of what life was like in Stalinist Russia.

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