RoadTrip America

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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.

John Mormon

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