The Secret Speech

The Secret Speech

4.0 162
by Tom Rob Smith
     
 

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Tom Rob Smith-the author whose debut, Child 44, has been called "brilliant" (Chicago Tribune), "remarkable" (Newsweek) and "sensational" (Entertainment Weekly)-returns with an intense, suspenseful new novel: a story where the sins of the past threaten to destroy the present, where families must overcome unimaginable obstacles to save their

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Overview

Tom Rob Smith-the author whose debut, Child 44, has been called "brilliant" (Chicago Tribune), "remarkable" (Newsweek) and "sensational" (Entertainment Weekly)-returns with an intense, suspenseful new novel: a story where the sins of the past threaten to destroy the present, where families must overcome unimaginable obstacles to save their loved ones, and where hope for a better tomorrow is found in the most unlikely of circumstances . . .
THE SECRET SPEECH Soviet Union, 1956. Stalin is dead, and a violent regime is beginning to fracture-leaving behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. A secret speech composed by Stalin's successor Khrushchev is distributed to the entire nation. Its message: Stalin was a tyrant. Its promise: The Soviet Union will change.
Facing his own personal turmoil, former state security officer Leo Demidov is also struggling to change. The two young girls he and his wife Raisa adopted have yet to forgive him for his part in the death of their parents. They are not alone. Now that the truth is out, Leo, Raisa, and their family are in grave danger from someone consumed by the dark legacy of Leo's past career. Someone transformed beyond recognition into the perfect model of vengeance.
From the streets of Moscow in the throes of political upheaval, to the Siberian gulags, and to the center of the Hungarian uprising in Budapest, THE SECRET SPEECH is a breathtaking, epic novel that confirms Tom Rob Smith as one of the most exciting new authors writing today.

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Editorial Reviews

Dennis Lehane
In Smith’s hands scenes attain a pulse of exhilaration worthy of Dickens by way of Conrad…a broadening of moral scope and thematic richness…rendered with passionate and indelible precision.
— New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly

Set in 1956, bestseller Smith's edgy second thriller to feature Leo Demidov (after Child 44) depicts the paranoia and instability of the Soviet Union after the newly installed Khrushchev regime leaks a "secret speech" laying out Stalin's brutal abuses. Now working as a homicide detective, Leo has long since repudiated his days as an MGB officer, but his former colleagues, fearful of reprisals from their victims, have begun taking their own lives. Leo himself becomes the target of Fraera, the wife of a priest he imprisoned. Now the leader of a violent criminal gang, Fraera kidnaps Leo's daughter, Zoya, and threatens to kill Zoya if Leo doesn't liberate her husband from his gulag prison. Shifting from Moscow to Siberia and to a Hungary convulsed by revolution, this fast-paced novel is packed with too many incidents for Smith to dwell on any in great depth. Though its drama often lacks emotional resonance, this story paints a memorable portrait of post-Stalinist Russia at its dawn. (May)

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Library Journal

The main characters introduced in Smith's debut, Child 44, continue their ferocious saga to find love and consolation against a backdrop of the totalitarian Soviet state. In 1956, copies of Khrushchev's anti-Stalin speech are delivered to officials responsible for the purges and repressions, thus releasing a new round of murders and suicides. At the same time, a second plot twines with the first as ex-lovers from Child 44 grapple in a macabre contest of vengeance and hate. Smith has proven his brutal touch when describing human conflict. With this thriller, he offers a fierce account of fighting onboard a storm-wracked prison ship on the Sea of Okhotsk-a hair-raising scene, alone worth the cost of the book. For all popular collections; be ready for short-term demand owing to heavy promotion. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/09.]
—Barbara Conaty

Kirkus Reviews
From Smith (Child 44, 2008), an intense thriller set in the Soviet Union during the tumultuous days that followed the death of Stalin. When Khrushchev delivered a speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, admitting to the paranoid excesses of his predecessor Stalin's regime, he did much to loosen the bonds of fear that kept Soviet society in line. However, in this novel, the speech also triggers a wave of vicious reprisals against secret policemen who were responsible for some particularly brutal acts during Stalin's reign of terror. Among those in danger is Leo Demidov, the reformed security officer with a conscience who tracked down a serial killer in Child 44. In order to redeem his brutal past, Leo has leveraged the official attention he received from catching the child killer to create a specialized homicide unit, something that would have been unthinkable under Stalin. After investigating the death of a former prison guard and having a conversation with a terrified former colleague who also winds up dead, Leo begins to put the pieces together, eventually realizing that those targeted are connected to the case of a dissident priest, a case to which Leo himself was intimately connected. When the danger expands to include the patchwork family Leo has been trying desperately to hold together, he must confront the terrible mistakes of his past to save his adopted daughter. Smith's ability to summon the paranoia and tumult of the post-Stalin period in all its dingy glory is truly astounding, as is his detailed knowledge of both the Soviet-era bureaucracy and its underworld. His characters, from the relentless Leo, to the petty criminals who populate theunderworld, 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.
RoadTripAmerica
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....Dennis Boutsikaris' performance made me feel like I was living in Stalinist Russia, and I was totally swept away by his work on this audio prduction.
Sukey Howard
Looking for un-put-downable suspense, guaranteed to give you chills during the dog days of August? Then Child 44, Tom Rob Smith's dazzling debut novel, enhanced by Dennis Boutsikaris' race-paced, authentically accented performance, is it....As Leo hunts the killer, the MGB hunt Leo, investigator becomes fugitive and the pulse-pounding excitement ratchets up in this transporting thriller-diller.
BookPage
Nelson DeMille
"This is a truly remarkable debut novel. CHILD 44 is a rare blend of great insight, excellent writing, and a refreshingly original story. Favorable comparisons to GORKY PARK are inevitable, but CHILD 44 is in a class of its own."
Starred BOOKLIST
"Smith's pacing is relentless; readers wanting to put the book down for a brief rest may find themselves persevering regardless. Expect the same kind of critical acclaim for this compelling tale that greeted the publication of Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park (1981) more than 25 years ago...a very, very good read. Don't miss it."
Sukey Howard - BookPage
Looking for un-put-downable suspense, guaranteed to give you chills during the dog days of August? Then Child 44, Tom Rob Smith's dazzling debut novel, enhanced by Dennis Boutsikaris' race-paced, authentically accented performance, is it....As Leo hunts the killer, the MGB hunt Leo, investigator becomes fugitive and the pulse-pounding excitement ratchets up in this transporting thriller-diller.
Lee Child
"An amazing debut—rich, different, fully-formed, mature...and thrilling."
Scott Turow
"CHILD 44 is a remarkable debut novel--inventive, edgy, and relentlessly gripping from the first page to the last."
From the Publisher
"This is a truly remarkable debut novel. CHILD 44 is a rare blend of great insight, excellent writing, and a refreshingly original story. Favorable comparisons to GORKY PARK are inevitable, but CHILD 44 is in a class of its own."—Nelson DeMille"

Smith's pacing is relentless; readers wanting to put the book down for a brief rest may find themselves persevering regardless. Expect the same kind of critical acclaim for this compelling tale that greeted the publication of Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park (1981) more than 25 years ago...a very, very good read. Don't miss it."—Starred BOOKLIST"

Stellar debut...completely original and absolutely satisfying."—Starred PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

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....Dennis Boutsikaris' performance made me feel like I was living in Stalinist Russia, and I was totally swept away by his work on this audio prduction.—RoadTripAmerica

*Starred Review* Dennis Boutsikaris expertly conveys the fear and paranoia that permeates Smith's outstanding debut novel of murder in 1950s Stalinist Russia....Using Russian accents to their full advantage, Boutsikaris infuses his characters' dialogue with a deep sense of downtrodden melancholia.—Publishers Weekly

Looking for un-put-downable suspense, guaranteed to give you chills during the dog days of August? Then Child 44, Tom Rob Smith's dazzling debut novel, enhanced by Dennis Boutsikaris' race-paced, authentically accented performance, is it....As Leo hunts the killer, the MGB hunt Leo, investigator becomes fugitive and the pulse-pounding excitement ratchets up in this transporting thriller-diller.—Sukey Howard, BookPage"

Dennis Boutsikaris's Russian accents are superb. He brings even minor characters to life..."—AudioFile

Booklist
Smith's pacing is relentless; readers wanting to put the book down for a brief rest may find themselves persevering regardless. Expect the same kind of critical acclaim for this compelling tale that greeted the publication of Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park (1981) more than 25 years ago...a very, very good read. Don't miss it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446402408
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
05/19/2009
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

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What People are saying about this

Nelson DeMille
This is a truly remarkable debut novel. CHILD 44 is a rare blend of great insight, excellent writing, and a refreshingly original story. Favorable comparisons to GORKY PARK are inevitable, but CHILD 44 is in a class of its own.
Scott Turow
CHILD 44 is a remarkable debut novel-inventive, edgy, and relentlessly gripping from the first page to the last.
Sukey Howard
Looking for un-put-downable suspense, guaranteed to give you chills during the dog days of August? Then Child 44, Tom Rob Smith's dazzling debut novel, enhanced by Dennis Boutsikaris' race-paced, authentically accented performance, is it....As Leo hunts the killer, the MGB hunt Leo, investigator becomes fugitive and the pulse-pounding excitement ratchets up in this transporting thriller-diller.
— BookPage
Lee Child
An amazing debut—rich, different, fully-formed, mature...and thrilling.

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