Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

(hb; 2008: first novel in the Agent Leo Demidov trilogy)

From the inside flap:

"Stalin's Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals.

"But in this society, millions do live in fear. . . of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty -- owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time -- sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions. Defending the system from its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force. And no MGB officer is more courageous, conscientious or idealistic than Leo Demidov.

"A war hero with a beautiful wife, Leo lives in relative luxury in Moscow, even providing a decent apartment for his parents. His only ambition has been to serve his country. For this greater good, he has been arrested and interrogated.

"Then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal -- a murderer -- is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, his world turned upside down and every belief he's ever held shattered. The only way to save his life and the lives of his family is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer -- much less a serial killer -- is in their midst."


Child is an excellent and thrilling novel, with relatable characters (who are realistic in their mix of darkness and light), its historic and Russian milieu, as well as its fictionalized/time transposed use of real-life child murderer Andrei Chikatilo. Not only that, there is romance in this harsh tale, which is sometimes tender (often at unexpected moments).

Great read, this -- followed by The Secret Speech.


The resulting film is scheduled for April 17, 2015 stateside release. Daniel Espinosa directed the film, from a screenplay by Richard Price.

Tom Hardy played Leo Demidov. Noomi Rapace played Raisa Demidov. Fares Fares played Alexei Andreyev. Jason Clarke played Anatoly Tarasovich Brodsky. Gary Oldman played General Mikhail Nesterov. Tara Fitzgerald played Inessa Nesterov.

Vincent Cassel played Major Kuzmin. Joel Kinnaman played Vasili. Paddy Considine played Vladimir Malevich. Charles Dance played Major Grachev. Vlastina Svátková played "Rostov Parent #1".

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