23.6.10

Book Review: The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

The Soviet Union 1956: after Stalin's death, a violent regime is beginning to fracture. It leaves behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. Stalin's successor Krushchev pledges reform. But there are forces at work that are unable to forgive or forget the past.Leo Demidov, former MGB officer, is facing his own turmoil. The two young girls he and his wife Raisa adopted have yet to forgive him for his part in the brutal murder of his parents. They are not alone. Leo, Raisa and their family are in grave danger from someone with a grudge against Leo. Someone transformed beyond recognition into the perfect model of vengeance. Leo's desperate, personal mission to save his family will take him from the harsh Siberian Gulags, to the depths of the criminal underworld, to the centre of the Hungarian uprising- and into a hell where redemption is as brittle as glass. 
I'm so glad that I finally got round to reading this book. I thought that Child 44 was one of the best books of 2009 and The Secret Speech is just as good.
Tom Rob Smith's writing style and beautifully crafted plot had me feeling as though I was holding my breath the whole way through. I felt as though, once again, he had captured the oppressive state of living at the time, never being able to relax or know who to trust.
I thought that Leo had been through so much in Child 44 but it is nothing compared to what he has to endure this time. Stalin's death has created a whole new kind of fear, it is now the State and those who carried out their work that are the criminals, criminals desperate to cover up their actions no matter what the consequences for the innocent people who have already experienced so much injustice.
We follow Leo as he fights to get his adopted daughter back. He travels undercover on a prison ship in order to enter one of the Gulags. Tom Rob Smith paints a vivid picture of the awful conditions, it is heightened because you know that these places actually existed, they are not a work of fiction.
I wouldn't want to give the plot away as it is truly excellent. I think that you would get more from this book by reading Child 44 first, it would certainly give you a fuller picture of Leo's character. I would highly recommend The Secret Speech; the plot has a fantastic pace, Tom Rob Smith has clearly done his research and it is extremely difficult to put this book down.

7 comments:

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Great review! I really have to check out this author. His books seem to be powerful. Thanks for sharing!

Dot said...

Irena- Thank you, they are really good books, so well researched and delivered.

savidgereads said...

I liked this one a lot, but it didnt hold me the way Child 44 did, I almost felt there was too much going on if you know what I mean?

thebookwormchronicles said...

I'm so glad you got round to reading this and enjoyed it! Again I agree that the detail and research that Smith put into this was amazing. However I do think for me that Child 44 is still the marginal winner lol.

Dot said...

Simon: There was a lot going on, I just love how Tom Rob Smith draws you in though.

thebookwormchronicles- Child 44 was brilliant but I'm pleased that there is a sequel as I wanted to know what happened next.

farmlanebooks said...

I have only heard bad things about this book so far. It is good to see someone being positive about it for a change! I was a massive fan of Child 44, so I will have to find out what happens next at some point - thanks for letting me know that there is at least one person in the world who enjoyed it!

Dot said...

farmlanebooks- I think that if you really enjoyed Child 44 then you will like this one, it's just good to find out what happened to Leo.

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