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Child 44
2008
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In the years following World War II, Joseph Stalin establishes great power and control over the Russian people; citizens are deceitfully told that their country is free from crime and offenders. However, a serial killer targeting children is, in fact, on the loose. And now, Leo Demidov, a decorated soldier, must locate this murderer while keeping his capture a secret.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Leo Demidov (Male), Married, Exile, War hero, Worked for the MGB, the State Security Force; enforced the rules; wants to serve his country; has arrested and interrogated many civilians; lived in mild luxury until he finds himself demoted; every belief he has ever had shattered; has to stop a real criminal, a murderer that the State won't even admit exists in order to save his life and family
Genre
Fiction
Historical
Mystery
Suspense
Thriller
Topics
Fear
Soviet culture
Soviet politics
Suspicions
Loyalty
Paranoia
Serial killings
Life changes
Exile
Manhunts
Criminals
Murderers
Setting
Soviet Union - Europe
Time Period
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Grisly, gruesome, and gory are just three ways to describe this debut novel by young British screenwriter Smith. While adapting a short story by sf writer Jeff Noon, Smith came across the true account of Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, who after killing more than 50 women and children was executed in 1994. His story inspired Smith to write this grim, 1953-set novel, which ties together just about all of the worst aspects of the Stalinist regime. The Ukrainian famine and the unrelieved horror of the gulag, among other historical hooks, add to the saga of ex-soldier and police official Leo Demidov, who dissects the morbid clues left by the killer. The paradox of crime in a workers' paradise denies any legitimacy to Leo's investigation, since, by definition, such repellent crimes are impossible. With some 20 foreign sales to date and film rights already in Ridley Scott's hands, this successor to Hannibal Lector's lurid mantle has nonstop plotting, a nonstop pace, and even a surprise ending. Horror genre readers will thrill to it; others may be advised to ask for a barf bag as well as their date due slip. Suspense collections in large libraries will likely need several copies to fill waiting lists. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/08.]-Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Set in the Soviet Union in 1953, this stellar debut from British author Smith offers appealing characters, a strong plot and authentic period detail. When war hero Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a rising star in the MGB, the State Security force, is assigned to look into the death of a child, Leo is annoyed, first because this takes him away from a more important case, but, more importantly, because the parents insist the child was murdered. In Stalinist Russia, there's no such thing as murder; the only criminals are those who are enemies of the state. After attempting to curb the violent excesses of his second-in-command, Leo is forced to investigate his own wife, the beautiful Raisa, who's suspected of being an Anglo-American sympathizer. Demoted and exiled from Moscow, Leo stumbles onto more evidence of the child killer. The evocation of the deadly cloud-cuckoo-land of Russia during Stalin's final days will remind many of Gorky Park and Darkness at Noon, but the novel remains Smith's alone, completely original and absolutely satisfying. Rights sold in more than 20 countries. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
In Stalin's Soviet Union, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer--much less a serial killer--is in their midst. Exiled from his home, a war hero must find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists. Unabridged. 12 CDs.
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