Monday, April 28, 2008

Pg. 69: Tom Rob Smith's "Child 44"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Tom Rob Smith's Child 44.

About the book, from the publisher:
An amazingly assured and exciting debut set in Soviet Russia in 1953, with a wonderfully realised sense of all-pervading fear and the desperateness of a chilling race against time. How do you solve an impossible crime?

MGB officer Leo is a man who never questions the Party Line. He arrests whomever he is told to arrest. He dismisses the horrific death of a young boy because he is told to, because he believes the Party stance that there can be no murder in Communist Russia. Leo is the perfect soldier of the regime.

But suddenly his confidence that everything he does serves a great good is shaken. He is forced to watch a man he knows to be innocent be brutally tortured. And then he is told to arrest his own wife.

Leo understands how the State works: Trust and check, but check particularly on those we trust. He faces a stark choice: his wife or his life.

And still the killings of children continue...
Among the early praise for the novel:
"An amazing debut - rich, different, and thrilling."
--Lee Child

"[A] brilliant debut novel that had me clutching it with both hands as if my life depended on reading it in a single night."
--Ali Karim, The Rap Sheet

"Child 44 telegraphs the talent and class of its writer from its opening pages, transporting you back to the darkest days of post-war Soviet Russia and ruthlessly drawing you into its richly atmospheric and engrossing tale."
--Raymond Khoury, bestselling author of The Last Templar

"This is truly a remarkable debut novel. A rare blend of great insight, excellent writing and a refreshingly original story... Favourable comparisons to Gorky Park are inevitable, but Child 44 is in a class of its own."
-- Nelson de Mille

"Child 44 contrasts the bleakness of Stalinist Russia with a love story that unexpectedly and ironically blooms only because the lovers are nearly crushed by a relentless totalitarian regime hell bent on their destruction. As a husband and wife seemingly trapped in a chilly state-endorsed marriage attempt to solve a series of brutal shild murders the government is determined not to acknowledge, they must avoid being killed themselves in a simultaneous flight and pursuit across the wintry Russian landscape. Achingly suspenseful, it's full of feeling and of the twists and turns that one expects from Le Carre at his best. It's a tale that grabes you by the throat and simply never lets you go."
--Robert Towne, Oscar-winning screenwriter, director, and actor

"The phrase 'master storyteller' is horribly over-used. In the case of young, first-time novelist Tom Rob Smith, it simply cannot do him justice. Child 44 is not only a thriller of the highest quality - addictive, pacey, frighteningly unpredictable -- but also a magnificently written novel with far more to offer than carefully managed tension and twists."
--Fiona Atherton, Scotsman

"A thrilling, intense piece of fiction."
--Peter Guttridge, Observer

"Child 44 is a thrilling read from the first page"
--The Sun

"Smith is good at keeping us in suspense. He also succeeds in saying something new on a well-worn subject."
Read an excerpt from Child 44, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Child 44 is Tom Rob Smith's first novel.

Read Ali Karim's interview with Smith at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: Child 44.

--Marshal Zeringue