Monday, September 29, 2008

BOOK: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Man Booker longlist 2008

A great crime thriller that had me staying up waaay too late last night as we raced across Russia, escaped from a train headed to The Gulags, and hunted down a serial killer of children. Whew! It was quite a ride, and a provided a look at Stalin's Soviet Russia in the 1950s.

Lots of examining the political structure, where the State is all and anything can be easily misconstrued, and friends and neighbours disappear after the suggestion of evil, or treason. Leo works for the predecessor of the KGB, so he knows exactly how the system works - presumed guilty is the first response, and once accused, there is no escape, because just the hint of treason is enough to ruin a man or woman. There is no crime, only infiltrators from the West trying to take down Stalin. Murders aren't investigators - criminals confess. It makes it difficult for Leo to begin to search for what he believes is a serial killer, because all crime have been solved previously, so if he suggests that there is a serial killer, it means innocent people have been killed, and that the State made a mistake. And that definitely didn't happen.

This year the judges have been asked by booksellers to select more accessible books for the Man Booker longlist. They hit the mark with this one. Politics, crime, interesting characters, action, great twisting plot. I haven't finished Les Miserables yet, but there was a hint of the Javert/Valjean revenge aspect with Leo and Vasili, if we want a classical allusion to make the book seem more Booker-ish. Hell, it was just a great read.


  1. I've been thinking about reading this, so am glad to hear you enjoyed it. Its inclusion on the Booker longlist and its quality in general has been fiercly debated around the blogosphere!

  2. sarah - I can imagine why it would be debated for being on the list, but it was a great page turner. Prob not great 'literature' but definitely enjoyable.

  3. This sounds like a very exciting read! Maybe something good to read between classics...

  4. laura - it would be great between classics. Not too much to think about, but entertaining.

  5. thank you for posting about this book I'd forgotten about it and now you've reminded me, so it's back to the top of my list!! thank you!! and it looks soooo good....

  6. Woo Hoo! I'm thrilled to read that you enjoyed this one. My husband read it and really liked it too. It's on my iPod just waiting for me.


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