[BOOK REVIEW] Imaginative Successor to Child 44 is no Secret

New York Times bestselling author, Tom Rob Smith, returns to a time of great change in the Soviet Union’s history in his second book The Secret Speech. Following the success of his debut novel Child 44, this book is set against a fascinating historical backdrop.

A fast-paced page-turner, The Secret Speech completely immerses the reader in the 1950s Soviet Union. After the death of Stalin, the new government is working to throw off the country’s brutal past, starting with admitting mistakes. This admission leads to a complex time of upheaval; those wronged are angry and those who participated in the cruelty caused by Stalin’s brutal regime are forced to face the consequences of their actions.

In this novel, former Secret Police officer turned homicide detective, Leo Demidov, struggles with his past while investigating the deaths of two former colleagues. As the case unfolds, Demidov is forced to experience some of the pains caused by his actions as an MGB officer (Soviet Union’s secret service prior to the KGB) in an effort to save his adopted daughter.

The pacing of this book stalls slightly before the shocking twist is revealed, plunging the reader down another path like a roller coaster that has crested a hill. While “protagonist faces sins of the past” in not a new story line, The Secret Speech is a captivating book. This is a credit to Smith’s descriptive style of writing and the numerous turns his lead character is forced to take as the story is unveiled.

Although crime drama/mystery is not the genre I traditionally read, I would definitely recommend this book.

May 3, 2010, Tom Rob Smith’s The Secret Speech will be released in paperback. This edition includes a Q&A section with Smith along with discussion questions/topics for a book group. More information about this book and author can be found at www.thesecretspeech.com.

The opinions expressed in this review are those of the author. The author was provided with a complimentary review copy of the book.

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