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The Secret Speech Hardcover – 6 Apr 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 380 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Child 44 Trilogy Series

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Hardcover, 6 Apr 2009
£102.88 £0.01
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; First Edition edition (6 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847371280
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847371287
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 380 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 514,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Tom Rob Smith’s first book, Child 44, enjoyed unprecedented attention and acclaim (as did its youthful author), so it was inevitable that the appetite for that novel’s successor would be keen. Now it’s here, and The Secret Speech, largely speaking, lives up the promise of its Fleming-Dagger-winning predecessor, despite being a very different book: Ex-MGB officer Leo Dormidov returns and becomes involved in a narrative so incident-packed it makes the earlier book seem positively sedate.

The most memorable thing about the first novel, of course, was the moral transformation of the hero, initially a charismatic tool of the brutal state apparatus, enforcing the Stalin-era edicts with grim efficiency until he becomes hunted rather hunter and earns some hard-won humanity. Part of the point of Child 44 was the protagonist’s journey of character – so how to follow this, when Leo has become a human being by the end of the first novel?

The Secret Speech performs this tricky balancing act by taking the reader back to 1949, with Leo the unreformed agent of the state, behaving with the callousness he once possessed before his life was turned upside down. We are then taken to the mid-fifties, after the death of Stalin (as cracks begin to show in the totalitarian Soviet State). Khrushchev’s famous denunciation of the Stalin era ushers in significant changes, and Leo Dormidov (along with his wife Raisa and their daughters) are in danger, as the power of the police is undercut – and, in fact, the police are now identified as enemies of the state. This is only one of the dangers that Leo faces: there is now a ruthless enemy on his trail – as ruthless as Leo was himself in the days of his authority and acclaim.

There is no denying that the bracing innovation of the first book (in what is to be a trilogy) burns at a lower wattage here – that’s inevitable – but Smith is too adroit a writer not to keep us comprehensively gripped (breathless, even, as climax after climax is piled into a crowded narrative). --Barry Forshaw


'As a study of betrayal at every level, The Secret Speech is masterly. It brilliantly portrays a society stripped of every element of love, trust and respect; compassion is a weakness to be exploited and denunciation is accepted with resignation... Smith's vision of the past skilfully enables the reader to imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever, and the fact that the boot is worn by the victim's children opens up a fresh hell unimagined by Orwell. Stalin's stock seems to be rising in Russia again. Read this and shiver.'
-- Sunday Telegraph, March 29 2009

'As in Child 44, Smith's plotting is elaborate, and his pacing is relentless. His characters are wonderfully drawn, and the near-nonstop action is utterly gripping. Again, as in the earlier book, however, the author's greatest success is in personalizing the stunning tragedy and brutality of life for many millions of Russians. The Secret Speech is a harrowing novel, but everyone who loved Child 44 will leap to read it'
-- Booklist, February 15 2009

'Smith's ability to summon the paranoia and tumult of the post-Stalin period in all its dingy glory is truly astounding...His characters, from the relentless Leo, to the petty criminals who populate the underworld, to a lonely guard aboard a frozen prison ship, are perfectly formed. His depiction of dismal Soviet society feels uncannily real, and his taut plot barrels onward like a loaded prisoner train headed for the Gulag. Finally, Leo is a fantastic creation: relentless, decent and wonderfully complicated.'

'A superb thriller, full of pitch-perfect atmosphere.' -- Kirkus Reviews, April 1 2009

'This is a fast-paced...action thriller set in an exciting period...' -- The Times, April 3 2009

'This is a tragic portrait of Russia's brutality. The novel is good, and it's good for you too - educational and informative. But you need a strong stomach for it' -- Literary Review, April 2009 Edition

'Tom Rob Smith is patently a talented writer with a rich and complex period to explore' -- The Observer, April 5 2009

`The Secret Speech is the keenly anticipated follow-up to Rob Smith's first novel, Child 44, which won 2008 Best Thriller of the Year from the Crime Writers' Association. Fans will be happy to find that Rob Smith has evaded the dreaded second-novel syndrome to produce another tense, masterful and lip-biting read.' -- The Independent 50 Best Summer Reads

`Tom Rob Smith has created another insanely exciting story, while making you feel you're learning a bit of history along the way'
-- Suzy Feay, Independent on Sunday

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