93. Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith

Saturday, December 26, 2009
Child 44 is the story of Leo Demidov, a former war hero, is a high ranking officer in the MGB, the state security force. A near perfect Soviet citizen in Stalinist Russia, Leo "investigates" those individuals who are accused of various anti-Soviet activities. In a world where crime doesn't officially exist, neighbours turn in their neighbours, spouses denounce each other and children rat on their parents, all in the vain hope that it will save themselves.

When the child of one of his men is found dead on a set of railroad tracks, Leo is sent to talk to the parents. Claiming their son was murdered, Leo convinces them that it was merely an accident - the official story - despite evidence to the contrary. After humiliating another of his men during a separate investigation, Demidov finds himself being arrested on false charges and he and his wife are sent into exile, demoted to the lowest rank in the militia.

Knowing that he will eventually be re-arrested and either sent to a Gulag or killed, Leo and his wife await the inevitable. That is, until another child is murdered in an almost identical manner. Realizing his former life was a sham and everything he once thought he believed in, including his marriage, was a lie, he begins to investigate. Ordered to drop his investigation, Leo can't let go and uncovers scores of other murdered children stretching across southern Russia and the Ukraine. With the MGB hot on his trail, and an agent bent on personal revenge out for blood, Leo and his wife vow to discover this serial killer who preys on children and kill him before they are eventually captured themselves. However, the investigation will force Leo to confront his own past and realize a connection to a horrific murderer that he never could have imagined.

Inspired by real-life serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, the Butcher of Rostov, the premise of the book intrigued from the moment I first came across it, shortly after it's release in 2008 and I've been wanting to read it ever since. As I read Child 44, I was hoping that someone would eventually make a movie out of this book. There's good news and bad news. According to Tom Rob Smith's official website, a movie is planned and the screenplay written. The bad news? It's going to be directed by Ridley Scott. Not a big fan but considering how engrossed I was in this novel, I'm willing to sit through one of Scott's films.

However, I can highly recommend Child 44, Smith's first book, and I'm definately going to be checking out his latest release, The Secret Speech, very soon.

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