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The Secret Speech

The Secret Speech

4.1 164
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

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.

Editorial Reviews

The Kremlin, February 1956. Nikita Khrushchev, the successor to Josef Stalin, delivers a secret speech, a four-hour tirade against the policies and repression of his predecessor. Distributed throughout the Soviet Union, "The Secret Speech" sets off tidal waves of jubilation and, in some arenas, intense worry and uncertainty. For former state security officer Leo Demidov, this repudiation of harsh Stalinist practices carries with it the fear of approaching retribution. As the country adjusts to this call for reform, Leo and his family brace themselves for numbing waves of terror. A relentless, shocking thriller from the author of the Barnes & Noble Recommends choice Child 44.
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
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.
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446552080
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
05/19/2009
Series:
Child 44 Trilogy , #2
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
53,780
File size:
1 MB

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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.

Meet the Author

International #1 bestselling author Tom Rob Smith graduated from Cambridge University in 2001 and lives in London. His novels in the Child 44 trilogy were New York Times bestsellers and international publishing sensations. Among its many honors, Child 44 won the ITW 2009 Thriller Award for Best First Novel, The Strand Magazine 2008 Critics Award for Best First Novel, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England
Date of Birth:
February 19, 1979
Place of Birth:
London, England
Education:
St. John's College, Cambridge, 2001
Website:
http://www.tomrobsmith.com

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Secret Speech 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 164 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Rita_Gordon More than 1 year ago
The SECRET SPEECH is a very different book from the also-brilliant CHILD 44. It is exciting and tragic and disturbing and fun and urgent in completely different ways. The author throws everything out of balance from the very beginning, upsetting the more or less comfortable approval I felt for Leo by the end of CHILD 44. As we learn more about Leo's past, he and his relationship with Raisa become increasingly complex. And the scope is huge. As in CHILD 44, the sociopolitical reality provides context for a suspenseful story about individual people--but it is also the primary moving force behind a bigger story about the struggles of an entire society living under an oppressive regime. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All I can say is that this book is another one of his winning books on the market. Do not pass this book up, read, read, read!!!!!!!! He is one awesome writer.
bobbewig More than 1 year ago
Let me start off by saying that The Secret Speech is not quite as good as Child 44 -- BUT it is a very good historical thriller and definitely well worth reading. Tom Rob Smith's second novel takes places in 1956, post-Stalin Soviet Union. During this time a violent regime is beginning to come apart, resulting in a society where the police are the criminals and the criminals are the innocent. The "firecracker" during this period is when a document based on a secret speech by Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, is distributed throughout the nation. The basic theme of Khrushchev's message is that Stalin was a murderer and a tyrant, and that life in the Soviet Union will improve. The plot of The Secret Speech moves from the streets of Moscow during its political upheaval, to the Siberian gulags an to the heart of the Hungarian uprising in Budapest. Central to the plot is former state security officer, Leo Demidov, the hero of Smith's Child 44. Demidov is now the head of Moscow's homicide department, and while striving to see justice done, his life is in turmoil due to trying to build a life with his wife, Raisa, and their adopted daughters who have yet to forgive him for his role in the death of their parents. On top of this personal turmoil, Demidov and his family are in serious danger from someone with a grudge against him. The Secret Speech is an exciting, visceral, well-written page-turner from beginning to end that paints a vivid picture of the post-Stalinist Soviet Union at its onset. Further, as was also true in Child 44, Smith's character's are richly developed and are one's that this reader felt he got to know well. I should point out that The Secret Speech isn't flawless, although none of these flaws are major. Perhaps, the biggest of these minor flaws is that some of the plot developments are somewhat too coincidental and a bit far-fetched. But this book is fiction, after all, and these minor flaws do help to contribute to the book's excitement. In addition, I should point out that potential readers of The Secret Speech would highly benefit from reading Child 44 first. Enjoy!
P-G-J-H More than 1 year ago
A sequel that equals, and possibly surpasses, its predecessor? Highly unlikely you may say, but in the case of "The Secret Speech", the follow-up to Tom Rob Smith's thrilling first novel "Child 44", the unlikely is accomplished. Being a child of the '60's fascinated by the Soviet Union of the era I was instantly drawn to "Child 44" when a friend offered her copy. It did not disappoint. The riveting (no other way to describe it) tale grabbed me immediately. The notion that a society could be so perfectly conceived and realized that crime, particularly a serious crime like murder, was unthinkable, is fodder for a terrific tale of intrigue and deception. Compound the story by making the murderer of the vilest nature, a murderer of innocent children, and you have the makings of an explosive, page-turning thriller. Smith handled this potentially lurid novel with style and precision, introducing along the way two complicated, flawed, main characters who have pasts, and presents, that continually prevent us from completely pulling for them. Yet, despite myself, I was able to repeatedly forgive Leo, the former card carrying Bolshevik automaton, for his past transgressions and accept him as a noble, reformed Russian of the "new" order. After successfully solving the methodical and sinister crime mentioned above he is named the commander of the state's first homicide department. It is in this capacity we find him as "Secret Speech" opens. Stalin has died replaced by Nikita Kruschev, a people's leader for a transformed Russia. Leo's newly formed department has its hands full with cases that bear witness to the direness of the Union's predicament. Under the more open regime promised by Kruschev, the masses feel less threatened and fearful. This, while exactly what the reformed Leo longs for, may actually bring about his demise. Someone from his past has a score to settle and will stop at nothing to ensure he not only relive and confess his sins, but suffer as deeply as that of his innocent victims. This novel never stops. The subplots and cast characters (some old, some new) enhance the story and help explain a time of Russian history that is often ignored and poorly illustrated. This was truly a read I could not put down and I will be saddened if there is not at least one more installment to follow. I recommend reading the first of the series "Child 44" before embarking on this novel.
SuzeQSW More than 1 year ago
After reading Child 44, I was thrilled to know that this author wrote a sequel. This second book is even better than Child 44 in that it gave the reader more information on the complexities of the characters and the eras of post Stalin, early Kruschev. I loved every page of it, and am reading it again, as I find I learn more with every reading. I read Child 44 twice also.
Brewer More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Wonderful! After watching the movie, which i thoroughly enjoyed, (Tom Hardy!!!) I realized it was a novel, which I decided i needed to read. I read the novel quickly and loved every word. The main characters Leo and Raisa are likable and believable. Read this book, you'll enjoy it!
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GR12 More than 1 year ago
I was a little skeptical about buying this book. After all Child 44 was his first book, and it was sooo good. Was it possible that he could write another book as good, or was he just a one hit wonder. Let me tell you this book is every bit as good as his first. TMS is a wonderful writer and I'm going to look forward to reading more of his works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
~Back..~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cool
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Each book in the trilogy stands alone, but read them in order if you can; even the ussr ended 20+ years ago, they still feel fresh and relevant
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read before the movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chicktracy More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this sequel to Child 44.  While some reviews complain, I think it was necessary to learn of Raisa and Leo's relationship.  Read Agent 6 as well.  Great series!!  
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Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Not realizing that this was a series until after I had started - I almost stopped. So glad that I didn't. There is no need to have read the first book. The Secret Speech is a fast paced race from the first to the last page. Hard to say too much without giving anything away. Leo is an ex-Secret Police officer in soviet Russia, trying to make a living for himself and his family after the death of Stalin. When the new regime issues a blanket denunciation of everything he did things start to get a little bad, quickly followed up with much worse. His past comes back to haunt him and he learns more about himself than he ever could have imagined as he races to keep his family safe and together. A fantastic and exciting read. I'll be adding the first book to my wishlist.