Child 44 : Leo Demidov

  • by Tom Rob Smith
  • Narrated by Steven Pacey
  • Series: Leo Demidov
  • 14 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

MGB officer Leo is a man who never questions the Party Line. He arrests whomever he is told to arrest. He dismisses the horrific death of a young boy because he is told to, because he believes the Party stance that there can be no murder in Communist Russia. Leo is the perfect soldier of the regime. But suddenly his confidence that everything he does serves a great good is shaken. He is forced to watch a man he knows to be innocent be brutally tortured. And then he is told to arrest his own wife. Leo understands how the State works: Trust and check, but check particularly on those we trust. He faces a stark choice: his wife or his life. And still the killings of children continue.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent, evocative book

In his debut novel Smith has painted a bleak picture of Stalin's Russia where blind faith in the State, or pretence of it, is the norm. Across the disparate parts of this story people's actions and decisions are fuelled by paranoia, desperation and vengeance. Many people abuse whatever power they have and many others live in constant fear of that abuse. The few acts motivated by love, friendship or hope are memorable for their rarity. In some ways this is a familiar picture of Russia during this era but I thought Smith did a better job than many writers in demonstrating the subtle differences in people's behaviour and exploring the reasons behind that behaviour rather than portraying everyone in as stereotypical good and evil as is often the case.

Few of the characters are likable however understandable their actions may be. But they're very credible in the context of the world Smith has depicted. The writing is breathtaking in the way it depicts scenes so vividly that you're transported to the places where action takes place and can feel the emotions of those involved. My main criticism of an otherwise terrific book is that in the last third the plot moved from credible to 'Hollywood' with the number of in-the-nick-of-time escapes and coincidences used to get to the ending.

It's an evocative portrayal of a time and place that's been demonised many times in literature and movies but rarely explored in such a thoughtful and thought-provoking way.
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- BSquaredInOz

It just didn't engage me

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The story felt like it relied on a lot of old soviet cliches, the crime story took 7 hours to get going and was a bit fanciful.

Would you ever listen to anything by Tom Rob Smith again?

I doubt it.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Steven Pacey?

He didn't add or subtract from the story.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Child 44?

it was very long for a thin story line. A few decent twists but nothing particularly interesting or not telegraphed.

Any additional comments?

I finished the book but only pushed on to finish it so I could get back to the Harry Bosch series

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- Don

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-30-2008
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks