Customer Reviews for

The Secret Speech

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Brilliant, thrilling follow up to Child 44

Forget about Sophomore Slump...Tom Rob Smith has executed an amazing sequel to the captivating Child 44. We're able to pick up where we left off and begin a whole new adventure, learning even more about the complex characters who took us on the first ride and moving for...
Forget about Sophomore Slump...Tom Rob Smith has executed an amazing sequel to the captivating Child 44. We're able to pick up where we left off and begin a whole new adventure, learning even more about the complex characters who took us on the first ride and moving forward with them. If it was a whole new world in the first book, it is all over again. The rules have changed, and yet they are almost the same in that they are soul squelchingly impossible to navitage and live within. The writing is tight (perhaps tighter than in Child 44) and the action is fast-paced while the emotion remains deep and well explored.
This is an amazing book that pulls you in from many different angles and never lets you down. I wish I'd had it on vacation -- i lost a lot of sleep during a work week when I couldn't put it down.

posted by 1220999 on April 13, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Misses The Mark Set By CHILD 44

I read CHILD 44; CHILD 44 is an all-time favorite of mine; I know CHILD 44. THE SECRET SPEECH is no CHILD 44. Tom Robb Smith set a high mark for himself with his debut that educated readers on what it was like to live, work, and suffer in Stalinist Russia. He accompli...
I read CHILD 44; CHILD 44 is an all-time favorite of mine; I know CHILD 44. THE SECRET SPEECH is no CHILD 44. Tom Robb Smith set a high mark for himself with his debut that educated readers on what it was like to live, work, and suffer in Stalinist Russia. He accomplished that while thrilling us with an original,superiorly written serial-killer mystery, the solution of which was compromised at every twist and turn by a repressive, persecuting, communist regime where villains flourished, innocent victims were forgotten and rescuers were stopped. Surely a masterpiece. Smith's second attempt delivers little flavor of Russian history, a villain lacking credibility, and many victims we care nothing about. Every few pages one or more of the many characters find themselves in one contrived predicament after another, escaping from storms, ships, prisoner uprisings at sea, gulag uprisings, tortue, runaway trucks, sewers, apartment windows,balconies, gunpoints, tank attacks, exploding buildings, bridge jumpings, and riots until you as the reader finally make the ultimate escape by reaching the end.

posted by Brewer on June 1, 2009

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  • Posted June 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Misses The Mark Set By CHILD 44

    I read CHILD 44; CHILD 44 is an all-time favorite of mine; I know CHILD 44. THE SECRET SPEECH is no CHILD 44. Tom Robb Smith set a high mark for himself with his debut that educated readers on what it was like to live, work, and suffer in Stalinist Russia. He accomplished that while thrilling us with an original,superiorly written serial-killer mystery, the solution of which was compromised at every twist and turn by a repressive, persecuting, communist regime where villains flourished, innocent victims were forgotten and rescuers were stopped. Surely a masterpiece. Smith's second attempt delivers little flavor of Russian history, a villain lacking credibility, and many victims we care nothing about. Every few pages one or more of the many characters find themselves in one contrived predicament after another, escaping from storms, ships, prisoner uprisings at sea, gulag uprisings, tortue, runaway trucks, sewers, apartment windows,balconies, gunpoints, tank attacks, exploding buildings, bridge jumpings, and riots until you as the reader finally make the ultimate escape by reaching the end.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2011

    nice

    nice

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    Not as good as Child 44

    This book is an ok read, but nowhere near as good as Child 44. If you think you're going to get a compelling follow-up, you will be disappointed.

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  • Posted October 22, 2010

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    Broadening the Moral Scope of Leo

    "The Secret Speech" by Tom Rob Smith is the fictional follow up to his engrossing debut book "Child 44" (book review) in which we continue follow the tortured life of MGB agent turned homicide detective Leo Demidov.

    In 1956 Soviet Russia was shaken by the contents of Nikita Kruschev's secret speech denouncing Stalin and ushering in a new era have became public. The criminal gangs of the vory have begun a wave of reprisal against those who enforced the brutal policy of the State. One of those people is former MGB agent Leo Demidov.

    Leo, his wife Raisa and two adoptive daughters, Zoya & Elena, live in Moscow where they try to adjust to their new life. Elena is adjusting nicely, but Zoya, the older daughter, still blames Leo for the murder of her parents by one of his colleagues. Leo has left the MGB to start an unofficial homicide department (there are no crimes in the "People's Paradise").

    This is when we meet Fraera, an unlikely leader of a vory gang, wife of a priest imprisoned by Leo seven years earlier. Fraera wants her revenge on Leo and she uses his family to exact it. The villain counts on Leo to do anything to protect his family, but she did not count on his skill, determination and great luck.

    Inevitably this book is compared to its brilliant predecessor which recounts the fictional pursuit of a mass murderer, as well as Leo's realization that working as a government agent, he might not be the "good guy" in the story of life. This book never achieves that urgency and rush which resonated with "Child 44" but I will try to review it on its own merit.

    What "The Secret Speech" does achieve is broadening the moral scope of the protagonist, questioning his share of the collective guilt of institutionalized oppression against your own people. Much like the Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev's secret speech (secret because it was supposed to be heard only behind closed doors) which is referred to in the title and drives the plot, the theme of guilt is played out well together with the absurdity of blindly following the "state".

    The feeling of Soviet paranoia and instability, so prominent in "Child 44", simply isn't there. The plot is so unnaturally twisted that the book almost seems as if it is written as a Hollywood screenplay instead of a story arc. Leo's character seemed almost comical, his ability to overcome every twist, turn and surefire death is uncanny The rest of the characters, well drawn in the beginning, fall flat towards the end. The villain of this story, Fraera, who drives the narrative, is one of the weaker elements of this story.

    One of the strong points of "The Secret Speech" is that the history in this book is accurate. The book is a well written, fast moving page turner in a relentless pace - which, as mentioned above, is also its downfall.

    For more book reviews please visit ManOfLaBook dot com

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2009

    Readable but disappointing sequel

    I absolutely adored Child 44. It was my favorite book of last year and I read about 200. I loaned it to about 10 people, all who raved about it. But The Secret Speech, while readable and ok was disappointing in comparison. On it's own it's an enjoyable read. But anyone that reads it will find it lacking some of the ooomph that was so deliciously creepy in Child 44.
    I'm hoping that the author abandons these characters and goes some place new next time. I think they've gone about as far as they can.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2009

    Sorry Tom

    The tightly woven plot of Child 44 is lost on this second go-around. Unfortunately like most sequels The Secret Speech loses the impact of the treacherous Stalin era.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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