Leo Demidov is demoted by his colleagues in the MGB and decides to resume the search that caused him to lose his powerful position– a search for a serial killer. But how does one find a killer that the State doesn’t even acknowledge exists?
Child 44 is a novel set in Soviet Russia and is a unique thriller that doesn’t let go. This debut novel is exactly what one author calls “Mature… and thrilling.”
I am not a big fan of historical fiction, so an author has to be very talented to cause me to enjoy the story without being weighed down by the fact that I have to imagine a time much unlike now causing me not to enjoy the story. Smith does this well, however, and I was fascinated by the ease with which he immerses us in the world of the USSR.
Leo is the main character of the novel. A MGB agent for about a third of the novel and an ex agent for the rest. Smith develops his character very well throughout the story. His struggle with the morality of the State and his own self is a story that would be worth reading even without a serial killer in the picture.
The plot is face-paced. It coils around you like a snake and does not loosen its grip. Ever. The tension is there from beginning to end. There are plenty of twists that will make the reader keep on flipping the pages over and over and over as fast as they can. The development of Leo’s relationship with his wife is something that makes the story that much more enjoyable.
Child 44 is a rare find. It combines suspense and romance and moral dilemmas into a story that is worth of its title as a classic.

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