Saturday, 3 January 2009

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

DATE PUBLISHED: 2008 DATE READ: January 2009 NOTES: This thriller is set in Soviet Russia in the early 1950s. Leo is a member of the MGB, the State Security force and a willing participant in enforcing the law using a mixture of terror, false accusations and an unremitting belief in the rightness of the state. At first he is reluctant to believe that someone is systematically murdering children especially as his superiors are convinced that such crimes cannot happen. The opening chapters are riveting and show the awfulness of life in the country during the 1930s and the paranoia existing under Stalin where no-one could be trusted – not even members of your own family. Leo’s rocky relationship with his wife Raisa is well portrayed but some of the less sympathetic characters are much less believable (such as Vasili, almost a comic book baddie!) The writing is pacy and Child 44 is very much a page turner. As a thriller is it brilliant (even though there were some problems with the plot) and will keep you reading on to the end. However overall I was disappointed in this book. At the outset I thought it would be a psychological thriller about people trying to live in an insane society but about halfway through it became like the script for an action movie and the tone changed considerably. The final psycho-babble explaining the murderer’s motives was just silly.

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