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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good indeed, but slightly disappointed
I loved Child 44. Smith (or should it Rob Smith? Perhaps it should; calling someone "Tom Rob" makes them sound like they're straight out of Deliverance) created both a taut thriller as well as a utterly believeable recreation of Stalin's Soviet Union - the fear and suspicion of life in those terrible times. So I was really looking forward to the follow up...
Published on 28 Mar 2010 by Chris Widgery

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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Second-Book Syndrome
I adored Child 44 and as soon as I'd finished it immediately ordered this follow-up in hardback. It had only been out a matter of weeks but by the time it arrived it was already in its 5th printing. Which just goes to show . . . what exactly?

Because bluntly, in comparison with Child 44 this book is dreadful. The only weak point in Child 44 was a contrived...
Published on 26 Dec 2009 by Jonathan Posner


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good indeed, but slightly disappointed, 28 Mar 2010
By 
Chris Widgery (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Secret Speech (Paperback)
I loved Child 44. Smith (or should it Rob Smith? Perhaps it should; calling someone "Tom Rob" makes them sound like they're straight out of Deliverance) created both a taut thriller as well as a utterly believeable recreation of Stalin's Soviet Union - the fear and suspicion of life in those terrible times. So I was really looking forward to the follow up.

Stalin has died, and Kruschev taken over. Kruschev makes the secret speech - denouncing the crimes of Stalin and tentatively signalling a freer era. And Leo Demidov, our hero from Child 44 returns. He is investigating the murders of former secret police personnel, when he gets drawn into a web of intrigues, conspiracy and, well, action.

The atmosphere is as good as in the first book, but the action is perhaps the issue. There's a bit in Moscow, and then they move several thousand miles east and more happens and then they go somewhere else entirely and more happens. And the travelling almost makes it feel like different things thrown together. I can't quite put my finger on why, but it doesn't quite work. Maybe all of the jet setting makes it feel like a 50s James Bond on a lower budget. It's all highly readable, and very enjoyable, but it's just not as good as child 44.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Second-Book Syndrome, 26 Dec 2009
By 
Jonathan Posner (LONDON, England United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Secret Speech (Hardcover)
I adored Child 44 and as soon as I'd finished it immediately ordered this follow-up in hardback. It had only been out a matter of weeks but by the time it arrived it was already in its 5th printing. Which just goes to show . . . what exactly?

Because bluntly, in comparison with Child 44 this book is dreadful. The only weak point in Child 44 was a contrived 'action' sequence on a train. Now I can almost imagine the conversation between Smith and his dumbed-down, know-nothing publishers as, flushed with the success of a first novel they exhorted him to write another 400 pages of the same kind of action, certain that this - as opposed to any kind of literary merit - was the winning formula. To see all Smith's undoubted writing potential thrown away like this is as heartbreaking as this book is unreadable. And to think that this is the same writer who was actually nominated for the Booker prize!

In the end this isn't so much of a novel as a comic without the pictures: the narrative is rushed, the characters implausible and the dialogue, far from giving us insight into character, creaks instead with often undigested dollops of history so obviously lifted from the research material.

I couldn't wait to finish this book. Tom Rob Smith is capable of so much more and if I were him I'd be making it my new year's resolution to stop hanging around with the wrong crowd and get in with a new set of literary people who can instead nurture and promote this writer's obvious talent and ability. If he does (and only if he does) will I be the first in line to buy his third novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Rob Smith, 20 Jan 2010
By 
Andy Targett (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Secret Speech (Hardcover)
What an amazing book, a great follow up to Child 44. I cannot recommend this writer enough. An absolute star.
Have contacted him via his web site and he is working on book three, as yet untitled, and it should be released in 2011.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere as good as Child 44, 14 Dec 2009
By 
zeev wolfe (MetroWest Boston, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Secret Speech (Hardcover)
As with many second books (especially sequels) this one doesn't measure up to the first (Child 44). Mostly this is because so much psychological karma related to Leo and Raisa was used up in the first book. Leo who had gone from an unthinking automaton (and perpetrator of torture) to a pained reality of what he had done, could never be as powerful a character as he was before.

The Secret Speech refers to Nikita Krushchev's indictment of Stalin at the CPSU Congress in 1956. At that time he accused Stalin (and therefore the Party and the State) of the torture (and forced confessions)and persecution of innocent people. That it was done for no other reason but to cull anyone who might become a threat to Stalin and to cower the rest of the population into unthinking obeyance of every government command.

Krushchev's denunciation of Stalin, therefore accused all who were involved and part of the Great Terror (1936-1939) and those (the MGB and KGB) who ran the Gulag. The Party could NOT admit that it had made a mistake and Krushchev was eventually overthrown in 1964 by a coup d'etat led by Brezhnev and Kosygin. Most western historians tended to believe Krushchev because he had been the leader of the Ukraine SSR and a member of the Politburo during most of the last twenty years of Stalin's reign.

The weakness in the book is Leo's invariable ability to work his way through some of the worst parts of the Gulag and survive. The time on the prison ship and the personality of the camp commander are hard to take at face value. Leo (with Raisa) being able to escape the Soviet Union and venture to Hungary in itself (even though he has the help of a powerful KGB general) is too fantastical. Then the number of coincidences that occur ask the reader to ignore too much to make the last part of the story possible. The semi-happy ending at the end is in itself totally implausible.

Zeev BM Halevi
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bitterly disappointing sequel to the fantastic Child 44. - Don't waste your money., 23 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Secret Speech (Hardcover)
Bitterly disappointing sequel to the fantastic Child 44.

This book is awful. Simple as that. What Tom Rob Smith achieved with Child 44 has been wiped out by this poor follow up. Whilst there are interesting ideas in the book, it's a mish-mash of scenes and doesn't flow particularly well...one wonders if the words 'film rights' have been mentioned to the author and he's thinking movie adaptation.

I truly wanted to love this book as I did Child 44, but alas there is no substance. Will give great consideration to ever reading this author again.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor show, 27 Nov 2009
By 
Moonlit (scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Secret Speech (Hardcover)
I read Child 44 a few months ago and really enjoyed it even though I'm not hugely keen on thriller type books but I thought it covered life in Stalinist times fairly well. The Secret Speech though is very different. I bought it in a 3 for 2 offer and wish I hadn't; it's a complete waste of money. It's written in what I can only describe as a haphazard way and seems to jump about like a Mexican bean from scene to scene. I wonder whether the author was under some pressure to produce a sequel in a hurry but it could do with editing to make it clearer. I'm not going to say much about the plot for like most thrillers it's implausible. That on its own wouldn't make me dismiss a book. Rather it's the lack of character development which is more concerning. Shame because I did think that Child 44 was an interesting premise.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A major disappointment, 22 May 2009
By 
L. Wynn Williams (Swansea Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Secret Speech (Hardcover)
After being absolutely enthralled by Tom Rob Smith's first book "Child 44"(I would give that 5 stars)I eagerly awaited the publication of his "The Secret Speech" - it was a major disappointment. A totally impausible story line with the author trying to pack in as many of the key Communist events of 1956 as possible even if it meant the story and the plot becoming convoluting and ludicrous. Before the story moved to Hungary I would probably have awarded it 3 stars,-from that point on it was downhill all the way.How can two books by the same author vary so much in outcomes for the reader?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 July 2014
By 
H. Newman (london UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Secret Speech (Paperback)
Great item
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, 19 Jun 2014
By 
Amazon Customer "Big Ears" (CHELMSFORD, ESSEX United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Secret Speech (Kindle Edition)
Set in Russia not long after the death of Stalin this story follows the political fall out from a speech given by Stalin's succesor Kruschev denouncing Stalin and the brutal acts carried out by peolple in his name. In Stalins Russia almost everybody was complicit in the often violent oppression of those judged either rightly or wrongly to be enemies of the state. The main protagonist of this story
Leo Demidov has hands more bloody than most. As a previous member of Stalin's secret police he has condemned many innocent people to torture, imprisonment and execution. He cannot escape his past and a price will be exacted.

Tom Rob Smith has done his research and this book convinces in detail. A great thriller which leaves you understanding a little more about recent Russian history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book!!, 29 May 2014
By 
Mrs (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Secret Speech (Kindle Edition)
A book full of close and complex relationships! Touching and heart warming. If you enjoyed Child 44 then don't miss this- it's a gem!!
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The Secret Speech (Child 44 Trilogy 2)
The Secret Speech (Child 44 Trilogy 2) by Tom Rob Smith (Paperback - 7 July 2011)
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