Book Review: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

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I bor­rowed this book from the local library.

"Child 44" by Rob Tom Smith is a tightly woven fic­tional story tak­ing place in old-school Rus­sia where Big Brother is every­where and a fab­ri­cated incrim­i­nat­ing charge is just a step away — a charge no-one could defend against.
Because that would mean the State is wrong.

The story starts with the ter­ri­ble dis­ap­pear­ance of a boy named Andrei dur­ing the famine in the 1930's. with­out expla­na­tion the story hops 20 years ahead to the ter­ri­ble death of another young boy named Arkadi. At the same time, an adult Soviet cit­i­zen named Ana­toli is run­ning away from the state secu­rity forces, the MGB.

This is just the lead for the intro­duc­tion of Leo, an ide­o­logue MGB offi­cer who is ambi­tious as well as unques­tion­ing of the poli­cies he is enforc­ing — believ­ing in the State and the greater good. Leo's faith in the State is so blind that he even goes to the house of his friend Fyo­dor, the griev­ing father of the dead Arkadi and a col­league at the MGB to tell / threaten / warn the fam­ily to stop yelling "mur­der" because Arkadi's death was a tragic acci­dent.


So said the State — even if they refuse to show Leo and Fyo­dor any evi­dence.


Vio­lent crimes do not exist in the worker's par­adise since no-one is starv­ing (sup­pos­edly) and the State takes care of all one's needs (as lit­tle as they may be).


So why com­mit crimes?


Heck, even sug­gest­ing that there has been a crime, is a crime unto itself. 

The author is unapolo­getic and uncom­pro­mis­ing, the story is raw and hon­est but not over-the-top (I read some­where that the author based part f the story on Russ­ian ser­ial mur­derer Andrei Chikatilo). The pic­ture painted of Com­mu­nist Rus­sia is bleak, vivid, stark and freight­ing.
I enjoyed this book tremen­dously; it is fast paced, inter­est­ing, great char­ac­ter­i­za­tion (includ­ing minor char­ac­ters) twists galore and a sur­prise end­ing. The plot twists and turns often and leaves the reader guess­ing and hun­gry for more, there are acts of heinous vio­lence and polit­i­cal intrigue.


"Child 44" is well writ­ten book, even though it's around 450 pages the story moves swiftly and there is not a word out of place. 
My rat­ing for Child 44 — 5
Zohar — Man of La Book

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