Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith (Read by Dennis Boutsikaris)
This is an outstanding book, one of the best I have listened to this year! The author succeeds in recreating the living conditions in Stalinist Russia and weaving a terrifying novel of suspense, intrigue and horror. The resolution at the end of the book is beautifully set up by the various turns of fate that befall the protagonist. This book gave me chills, and it was nearly impossible to break away while listening.
The foundation of the story centers around Leo Demidov, a high-ranking police inspector and patriot who seeks to promulgate the government's viewpoint that Russia is a worker's paradise, where all of the citizen's needs are met and a place where citizens need not worry about murder, kidnapping or child abuse. Demidov works for the secret MGB, an agency tasked with the job of ensuring that no discontent or negative feelings are publically expressed by the citizens, despite the grim circumstances of their daily lives. Unfortunately, in the course of his duties, he discovers that a serial killer is targeting children. He knows that if he investigates this series of crimes he could well forfeit his job and the safety of his wife and family.
Despite the resultant loss of prestige
and the depravity he and his wife face when he is sent
to the Gulag, Demidov continues to press the investigation
forward. Dennis Boutsikaris' performance made me feel
like I was living in Stalinist Russia, and I was total
swept away by his work on this audio prduction. Wondering
what will befall the courageous detective will keep
you glued to your seat as each twist is revealed in
the text. Child 44 is not only a searing indictment
of the political beliefs of the period, but a testament
to the enduring quality of people who reject inhumane
thinking and seek resolution even if it means personal
loss and the challenges of confronting personal moral
dilemmas. The first part of the book is grim, but the
depiction of the desperate living conditions of the
people of Russia is essential to understanding the context
of this magnificent work of fiction. I would rate this
a solid 10 out of 10.