Tuesday, August 05, 2008

67. "Child 44" - Tom Rob Smith

This novel has been compared to John le Carre's, "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold." It's not nearly as intriguing, and much more mainstream than I expected from a Man Booker 2008 long lister.

Leo Stepanovich is working for the MGB in 1953 USSR. He has arrested more people than he can remember, and it isn't until a co-worker's son is killed - and Leo must force the family to believe it was an accident - that he begins to question the loyalties of those around him.

Demoted, depressed, he and his wife, Raisa, are sent to a small town. While there, Leo finds the body of another child. The case is similar to his co-worker's, and Leo begins to unravel the mystery of the killer.

Unlike most whodunits, it is obvious from the beginning of the story that the murderer is __________. The red herrings come from the trust and/or lack thereof that was built upon a Stalinist USSR.

While the historical aspect interested me, the overall feel of the book was average: average writing, average characterization, average content. It reads like a movie, and the author has already sold film rights to Ridley Scott. A perfect vacation or beach read, but not a book that should made the Man Booker short list.

3.25 out of 5.0 Russian Turkeys.


Stefania said...

Actually many have criticized the fact that a thriller novel has made it to the Booker longlist (see "The Guardian"'s website), since this is usually considered to be a genre, and therefore highly predictable.

Kristin Dodge said...

I have nothing against genre fiction - my first book was a romantic suspense (*cringe*). But there are the Edgars for that. It would be like Tom Clancy winning the Pulitzer.

Somewhat off-topic - I would give brownie points because Tom Rob Smith is one good-lookin' man. Whew!

diana raabe said...

This one's going on my TBR list. I read more nonfiction than fiction, but sometimes a novel proves too good to pass up.

amcorrea said...

Same here. It was a mildly interesting read, but nowhere near worth all of the hype. I paid $13 to download it online and felt it wasn't quite worth that.