Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith (Audio Book)

Child 44 was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2008 and it’s presence on the list caused a lot of controversy. I had heard so many different reactions to it that I really didn’t know what to expect. I was planning to read it, but when I saw that it won thriller of the year at the Audies I decided to listen to it instead. I am very pleased I made that decision as it is one of the best audio books I have ever listened to.

The book is set in Stalinist Russia during the 1950s and follows Leo, a state security agent, who slowly realises that the system he is part of arrests and tortures innocent people. He decides to work alone, risking everything to find the identity of a man who is murdering children across the country.

I loved every moment of listening to this book – I was gripped throughout. The complex plot was perfectly paced, the characters believable and packed with layers of emotion which were gradually revealed over the course of the book.

I can see why many people objected to this book’s inclusion on the Booker list – it is not literary fiction and contained no symbolism or hidden meanings buried in the text. It is simply a very good thriller, so anyone after a book to study for hours would be disappointed. As a thriller I can’t fault it – the twists were surprising and well thought out, the dilemmas the characters faced were thought provoking and tragic, and the cold, icy setting was perfect for adding to the chilling atmosphere.

There  were a few gruesome scenes, so the squeamish (especially those who love cats!) should proceed with caution, but I thought the violence was appropriate and was needed to emphasize the difficult circumstances the Russian people had to endure on a daily basis.

I highly recommend this book, especially the expertly narrated audio version, to anyone who loves engaging thrillers.



Did you enjoy Child 44?

Have you read the sequel, The Secret Speech?

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  1. lilly says:

    Thanks for letting us know that this book won the audie awards. I really like a good thriller ‘performance’ on audio and I will definitely be looking for this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lilly, I hope that you enjoy listening to it!

  2. Joanna says:

    I’ve heard such good things about this, can’t wait to read it. Plus I’m in the mood for good thrillers at the moment!

    1. Jackie says:

      Joanna, if you are in the mood for a good thriller then I’m sure you’ll love this one.

  3. raidergirl3 says:

    I read it last year and really liked it. Great thriller, and look at Russia during the cold war era. I didn’t realize Smith’s new book was a sequel.

    1. Jackie says:

      raidergirl3, I enjoyed the look inside Russia too!

  4. Simon S says:

    I loved this book and I think part of the reason it got put up for the Booker was, apart from the fact its brilliantly written bar the italics, that no one has attempted to write a book taht looks at how murderers could roam free due to the political state of the country at that time which I would say is quite something and is why I think some people think its a great historical piece (as its based on true events) and also a brilliant thriller, its a fav of mine!

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, I didn’t have any problems with italics as I listened to it! I’ll have to have a quick look at a hard copy to see what you mean.

      I agree that it is a great piece of historical fiction and it also touched on many important political issues – another reason to love it!

  5. I absolutely loved Child 44. While its unusual, I don’t think it’s out of place in its longlist booker spot, as I would say that is extremely well written. For me there were echos of 1984 in this novel and it was clearly well researched. I thought it was much more than just a thriller. Glad you loved it too!

    1. Jackie says:

      Novel Insights, It is very well written and I can see the similarities with 1984, but I didn’t feel it had the literary fiction element to warrant it’s place on the longlist, but then I don’t feel White Tiger did either and it won! I think the Booker judges were quite poor in 2008, but I’m pleased it gave this book some recognition.

  6. Steph says:

    I remember when this was longlisted and all the brouhaha that resulted! I was certainly intrigued by the book, but then kind of forgot about it. You know that I always enjoy a good thriller, so thanks for reminding me of this one again!

    Was it ever revealed by anyone on the Booker committee (or perhaps posited by any journalists) why this made the longlist? Did you find the writing especially good for the genre?

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I haven’t seen any comments by the Booker judges on this book, but I haven’t looked for them. It was very well written. I am often disappointed by thrillers, but this was really good. I am sure that you’d love it.

  7. Sandy says:

    I loved this audio as well. The narrator has a deliciously brilliant Russian accent. There was non-stop action, a damaged hero, murder, mayhem, mystery, everything you need! This was actually one of the first reviews I did on my blog! I was incredibly disappointed with the sequel however. I hope that yummy Tom Rob Smith gets his mojo back.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I remember you recommending the audio version for this book and went to have a quick peek at your review. I agree that the narrator was excellent, although there were a few points when the dodgy accents surfaced it was excellent 90% of the time. I have heard that the sequel is disapointing, but I struggle to see how anything could be as good as this one. I realy hope Tom Rob Smith can produce another great book soon and I will listen to Secret Speech at some point.

  8. Beth F says:

    Not my usual genre, but I can’t resist an audio recommendation! I’ll have to look for it at the library. The Russian accent will remind me of my grandfather.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, If you don’t enjoy this thriller then I’m not sure you’d like any. I think this is amazing on audio and I really hope you like it.

  9. Nicole says:

    Funny that you mention that cats! I am totally against bad things happening to pets in books and movies. I want to check this one out and also Wolf Hall. I can’t remember if you read that one or listened to it. Which would you recommend?

    1. Jackie says:

      Nicole, LOL! I gave Wolf Hall 1 star and couldn’t manage to make it to the end. They are very different books and will appeal to very different people. Wolf Hall is literary fiction – you need to study every word to deduce the meaning. I got so frustrated by it (I read it, so didn’t listen) Child 44 is action, mystery and suspense – it is very easy to read, but packed with things to think about. I recommend you skim the first chapter though – you’ll probably be upset about the cat.

  10. Violet says:

    awesome!!! I just recommended this book to my brother in law and I’ve not even read it, I trust the bloggers so much :)

    I’m glad you like it, I’m looking forward to reading it too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, LOL! I’ve done that too! It is great to know bloggers so well that you can trust their recommendations so much without having read the book. I’m sure you’ll love this one too!

  11. Melody says:

    I’ve heard lots of great reviews about this book. Have to check it out after reading your review and knowing that you enjoyed it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Melody, I’m sure that you’ll enjoy this book. You always seem to find the best thrillers, so I’m pleased that I can return the favour for once!

  12. Aimee says:

    looks supercool…and ive never heard of it! thanks for bringing it to my attention!


    1. Jackie says:

      Aimee, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

  13. Kim says:

    We have a long drive next month, this sounds like the perfect companion!

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I think this would be perfect for a long drive – I hope that you enjoy it!

  14. Jenners says:

    Sounds good to me … I think I’ll check it out. I’m always up for a good thriller … and perhaps this is a good way to start with audiobooks.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I think that this would be a great introduction to audio books. I am sure you’ll be hooked after listening to this one.

  15. Kim says:

    Five Stars from you Jackie, it must be good! Will look for it in audio form I think, sounds like a great thriller.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I don’t award many 5 stars, so you can be sure I love this one. The book might only get 4.5 stars, but the audio version was so good that it raised the score. I hope that you enjoy it.

  16. I loved this book for the most part. Really original characterisation, a terrific political backdrop, startling twists – and then, for me anyway, let down by a denouement that stretched things too far and tried to make the political personal in a way that just felt contrived. But that may just be me. There is still a huge amount to recommend this thriller – and I can imagine how well it translated in the audio version.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jorrit, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time!
      I can see what you mean about it being a little contrived, but I didn’t mind this, as I was so wrapped up in the story. I’m sure that this is not a great book for discovering the truth about Russian politics, but it is a very good piece of entertainment.

  17. Trish says:

    five stars!! I have this one sitting on the shelf and just haven’t made time for it but I’ll think about it a little harder when I’m looking for something thrilling to read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Trish, I am sure you’ll love it!

  18. Geraldine says:

    I hardly ever read thrillers but the political backdrop of this book made it a gripping read. I loved it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Geraldine, I don’t read that many thrillers either, but I do love it when I find a good one!

  19. I love thrillers. Listening to this book was amazing. I just didnt want it to finish.
    Your review is great! I already added you to my favs bookmarks :)
    Oded Frommer

  20. melanie says:

    I read it and loved it – maybe I can get my husband to listen to the audio on his way to work. I haven’t read the sequel yet, I haven’t been in the right mood. But it’s on the list… Are you planning to read (or listen) to the sequel soon?

  21. amy says:

    Thanks so much for the recommendation – just ordered the audiobook :)


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