The Child Thief

  • by Dan Smith
  • Narrated by Bronson Pinchot
  • 13 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of City of Thieves and Child 44, a troubled World War I veteran races across the frozen steppe of 1930's Ukraine to save a child from a shadowy killer with unthinkable plans.
Luka is a war veteran who now wants nothing more than to have a quiet life with his family. His village has, so far, remained hidden from the advancing Soviet brutality. But everything changes the day a stranger arrives, pulling a sled bearing a terrible cargo. When the villagers’ fear turns deadly, they think they have saved themselves. But their anger has cursed them. In the chaos, a little girl has vanished, and Luka is the only man with the skills to find the stolen child and her kidnapper in these frozen lands. Besides, the missing girl is the best friend of Luka’s daughter, and he swears he will find her. Together, with his sons, Luka sets out across lands ravaged by war and gripped by treachery. Soon they realize that the man they are tracking is no ordinary criminal, but a skillful hunter using the child as bait in his twisted game. It will take all of Luka’s strength to battle the harshest of conditions and all of his wit to stay a step ahead of Soviet authorities. And though his toughest enemy is the man he tracks, his strongest bond is a promise to his family back home.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Cold, Subtle, and Full of Suspense

Smith could have chosen any of the characters in his story to be his main character. He might have made it a "coming of age" tale and chosen one of the sons. Or a sinister tale of desperation and sorrow by choosing one of the children who were stolen. These days, it's become popular to have an "anti-hero" and make the villain the protagonist; in which case he might have picked the Baba Yaga to tell the story.

All of those plot lines have been done before, however, and some of them are getting quite tired. Instead, Smith chose to tell the story from the perspective of Luka, a father and retired Russian soldier living in the Ukraine- the result surprised me. Luka is one of the most well written characters I've ever come across.

Still, it's not just Luka's story. There is tremendous depth and subtlety everywhere you look here. It's clear how much thought Smith put into crafting this. Even the setting cold, quiet, and dangerous- is given a personality. The result is an utterly unique tale that is haunting me days after finishing it.

As for Bronson Pinchot- I fell in love with him as a narrator while listening to Larry Correia's Grimnoir Chronicles (for which I hear he's been nominated for an Audie- well done, sir). I cannot imagine a better actor to voice this story. In the beginning, the thick Ukrainian accent threw me. By the end, however, I could not help but marvel at how absorbed I became in the story- completely thanks to Pinchot's abilities. He successfully creates distinct men, teenagers, soldiers, women's and children's voices without distracting you. He voiced both the bark of command and the choked crack of despair during this novel- I really can't praise his work enough.

You will want to listen to this book. You will want to re-listen to this book. It is that good.
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- Amazon Customer

Terror In 1930's Ukraine

I chose this book because other reviewers compared it favorably to Norwegian By Night--another book I really enjoyed. I can't agree completely with those comparisons. To me, the flavor and tone of The Child Thief had very little in common with Norwegian By Night. Instead, this title reminded me of Solzhenitsyn's One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich crossed with a healthy dose of the thriller by Sam Eastland--Eye Of the Red Tsar. A fairly complex--but intriguing and interesting mix.

At first I was disarmed by Pinchot's narration. It was so soft and quiet that I wasn't sure I would be able to tolerate being whispered at for 13+ hours. After about 15 minutes it all clicked, I adjusted to the voice and thought it was perfect for the story being told. It makes you feel almost as though you are inside Luka's head hearing his thoughts. An excellent narration that added positively to the book and the listening experience. Always a good thing.

Heart pounding storytelling, gruesome detail, edge of your seat action and thoughtful commentary on personal perspective, soldiers and war made this a wild ride. The book is definitely a thriller but at the same time it is much more than that. There is a strong thread of self-reliance and gratitude for the tiny bits of "luck" you find in your life. A tale of love and duty in a harsh, cruel and loveless time in Russia. I listened captivated absolutely every chance I had and recommend this book if you want to be swept up into a different world entirely. A winner.
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- Sara

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-24-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios