The Secret Speech : Leo Demidov

  • by Tom Rob Smith
  • Narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris
  • Series: Leo Demidov
  • 11 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

It is 1956. Three years ago, Leo Demidov moved on from his career as a member of the state security force. As an MGB officer, Leo had been responsible for untold numbers of arrests and interrogations. But as a reward for his heroic service in stopping a killer who had terrorized citizens throughout the country, Leo was granted the authority to establish and run a homicide department in Moscow.Now, he strives to see justice done on behalf of murder victims in the Soviet capital, while at the same time working to build a life with his wife Raisa and their adopted daughters, Zoya and Elena.Leo's past, however, can not be left behind so easily, and the legacy of his former career - the friends and families of those he had arrested as a state security officer - continues to hound him. Now, a new string of murders in the capital threaten to bring Leo's past crashing into the present, shattering the fragile foundations of his new life in Moscow, and putting his daughter Zoya's life at risk.Faced with a threat to his family, Leo is launched on a desperate, personal mission that will take him to the harsh Siberian Gulags, to the depths of the hidden criminal underworld, and into the heart of Budapest and the Hungarian uprising.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Disappointing Followup

I was not as enamored with this effort by Tom Rob Smith as I was with his Child 44. No matter what trauma beset Leo, he had an amazing resilience. The motivations of several characters in the book were not believable. I got the feeling that the story could have ended at any time and there would have not been much less resolution as there was when the book actually did end. If you haven't listened to anything by Smith and want to give one of his books a try, go with Child 44. And then try another author.
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- Ed "Retired former magazine editor who is working harder than ever as Mr. Dad to his 14-year-old daughter."

A Significant Departure from Child 44

The Secret Speech is the second book in the Leo Demidov trilogy, and I dove into it promptly after finishing Child 44. Unfortunately, I found this book lacking in the qualities that made the first book so extraordinary.

Instead of the intimate, personal tone of Child 44, The Secret Speech instead opts for a more impersonal story of a country at war. Perhaps if this was a standalone book, the plotline of a nation at a moment of internal change and the politics involved would have been more engaging. As it was, however, it was difficult to make the shift to a novel far less character driven than the first book had been.

Another challenging aspect for me was the plot’s focus on Leo and Raisa’s adopted daughter, Zoya. While we met Zoya in the first book, little time was spent on her character; and I had a hard time now suddenly caring about her as much as the story demanded. Perhaps this was a personal issue or failure that other readers won’t experience - I don’t know. For me, at least, the sudden jump to Zoya’s plotline was a difficult one, and I was unsuccessful in my attempt to find her at all sympathetic. This proved especially difficult because some of her decisions were so unlikeable I was unable to forgive them, even when taking into consideration her extremely traumatic childhood.

This book attempted a far greater reach than the first book; spanning more time, more locations, more history. Much time is spent on the war, with battle scenes of tanks, masses of protesters, bombs, and the internal manipulations of the top players. Again, perhaps as an independent story it could have worked, but as a follow-up to Child 44 I found it a great loss to not focus on the people and relationships that made the first novel such a triumph.

I’m not sorry I read the book, and for those that loved Child 44 and want to complete the trilogy, I suppose it’s worth reading. Just be prepared for a much broader plot with far less intimacy or character development.
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- Amanda "I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-19-2009
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio