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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

(Book received from, and review written for,
Fear and Hope under Stalin           My rating:  5/5

This is an exciting, fascinating and thought provoking read.
Set in 1953 (the year of Stalin’s death) the book has two themes: firstly the investigation of a crime, and secondly what life was like under Stalin for ordinary people through to the secret police. It is set in Moscow, villages and small towns throughout Stalin’s Russia.
For me the horror and hardship of living under this terrifying regime was the main focus of the first half of the book (I kept stopping to think about what I was reading, and talking to others about it), and then in the second half the crime solving took over as I raced to the end.
From the point of view of a tourist (or anyone else!) I think this is an essential read. When visiting Russia if you meet (or see) anyone over the age of 60 you will look at them with eyes of wonder, as you realise that they lived through this time. It also gives a different perspective on their lives today compared to those of us brought up in the UK (or a country with similar politics).
The writing style is easy to read, the characters are easy to follow (the names are not too difficult). At the end of the book are some “Stalinist Statistics” which are interesting/shocking.
I think this is one of the best books I have read for a long time; not only for the reading of it, but also for the conversations I have had with others about it.
And the great news is that there are two follow on books!

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