The Child Thief: A Novel

( 19 )

Overview

A troubled WWI veteran races across the frozen steppe of 1930s Ukraine to save a child from a shadowy and sadistic killer with unthinkable plans
December 1930, Ukraine. Luka is a war veteran who now wants only to have a quiet life with his family in his village. But everything changes the day the stranger arrives, pulling a sled bearing a terrible cargo. In the chaos that ensues, a little girl vanishes. Luka is the only man with the skills to find who could have stolen a child ...

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Overview

A troubled WWI veteran races across the frozen steppe of 1930s Ukraine to save a child from a shadowy and sadistic killer with unthinkable plans
December 1930, Ukraine. Luka is a war veteran who now wants only to have a quiet life with his family in his village. But everything changes the day the stranger arrives, pulling a sled bearing a terrible cargo. In the chaos that ensues, a little girl vanishes. Luka is the only man with the skills to find who could have stolen a child in these frozen lands – and besides, the missing girl is best friend to Luka’s daughter. Together with his sons, Luka sets out in pursuit across lands ravaged by war. Soon they realize that the man they are tracking is no ordinary criminal, but a skillful hunter with the child as the bait. It will take all of Luka’s strength to battle the harshest of conditions, and all of his wit to stay a step ahead of Soviet authorities.

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Editorial Reviews

Val McDermid
“Steve Mosby has become one of a handful of writers who make me excited about crime fiction.”
The Guardian
“He writes like the very best American thriller writers. Cancel all other engagements for the day.”
Publishers Weekly
British author Smith (Dry Season) makes his U.S. debut with this highly atmospheric thriller set during the winter of 1930 in the Soviet Union. One day, a wounded stranger pulling a sled stumbles into Vyriv, a remote Ukrainian village. Two dead children lie on the sled, their bodies mutilated in a way that suggests cannibalism. The stranger soon dies, yet during his brief stay, nine-year-old Dariya goes missing into the nearby forest, the mythical home of “Baba Yaga,” an old hag who eats children. As snow falls the next morning, the girl’s uncle, WWI veteran Luka Mikhailovich Sidorov, gives chase with his twin 17-year-old sons. Days later, just as the three are closing in on their quarry, government agents capture Luka, who’s subsequently interrogated and tortured. He manages to escape with a few clues to Dariya’s disappearance and resumes his search. From the arresting opening to the tense finale, Smith doesn’t hit a false note in this captivating tale of the power of the human spirit when pushed to the brink. (June)
Raymond Khoury
“Dangerous and compelling – a powerful thriller with a dark heart.”
The Sunday TImes (London)
“Smith succeeds in creating a narrative that is both an engrossing thriller and the story of a man struggling in the grip of historical events that he only partially understands.”
The Mail on Sunday
“Haunting stuff from a new writer to watch.”
Library Journal
In 1930, Soviet leader Stalin's cadres crushed Ukrainian villages to collectivize their farms and exile the kulaks (well-to-do peasant farmers) to Siberia, resulting in a great famine. So far the village of Vryiv has remained hidden from the authorities. But when villager Luka, a war vet and devoted family head, encounters a dying stranger pulling a sled with the butchered corpses of two children and brings him to the village, the villagers' fears turn into violence. In the midst of the chaos, Luka's niece vanishes, and Luka and his twin sons vow to save her. As a military tracker and sharpshooter, Luka has unusual skills, but his prey is wily and pitiless. Even worse misery befalls Luka when he is snared by soldiers enforcing the new farm policy. VERDICT Though in the gruesome vein of Tom Rob Smith's Child 44, Smith's (Dark Horizons) fourth adult novel laments "for the darkness that had come into this life and for the light that had gone out of it." Luka's inner dialogs show a core of moral strength and integrity that will keep readers on the edge of the chair rooting for him and his kin. Marked by clear writing and laser-portrait characterizations, the book builds a deftly-nuanced plot. The evocation of the frozen steppes will chill your beach-warmed bones.—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Set in 1930, a former soldier must leave his quiet farm life in the outskirts of Soviet-controlled Ukraine to find his kidnapped niece. British author Smith's (Dark Horizons, 2011, etc.) latest thriller begins with Luka, a veteran of World War I and the Russian Civil War, discovering a mysterious stranger who is barely conscious and pulling a sled loaded with two dead children. When his neighbors in the small Ukrainian farming village learn of the children, Luka is unable to prevent the hastily formed mob from lynching the stranger. Luka's inner turmoil increases when his brother-in-law (and the leader of the hanging party) realizes that his daughter is missing and it becomes clear that Luka is the one person who has the skill set to recover the missing girl. With the potential threat of an encroaching Soviet police force sweeping the countryside, Luka leaves his wife and daughter behind and sets out with his twin sons into the harsh Ukrainian wilderness. The stakes are raised when Luka realizes that the kidnapper is using the young girl as bait to lure Luka and his sons into a dangerous labyrinth where their own lives are continually threatened. The tension steadily increases as Luka uses his military training in a battle of wits with the unknown kidnapper, and the division between the hunter and the hunted becomes more and more blurry. In a style that methodically builds suspense, Smith delivers the story of a hero able to rise to the challenge in the face of escalating troubles.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605985718
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 6/15/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 357
  • Sales rank: 492,731
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Among other novels, Dan Smith is the author of The Child Thief and Red Winter, which are also available from Pegasus Crime. He lives in Newcastle with his family. Find out more about Dan, his novels, and the places that inspire them at www.dansmithbooks.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 4, 2013

    Absolutely, a can't put it down book. Terrific account of early

    Absolutely, a can't put it down book. Terrific account of early 1930's Ukraine, but the story of a missing child and the search for her is riveting. The moral choices that are made in a tumultuous time period makes this a remarkable read.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    Excellent read!

    This is one of the best books I've read in recent years, and I read a lot! The descriptions of the political turmoil in the Russia/Ukraine regions in the 1930s; the strength and resilience of the people in tiny obscure villages; and the brutal winter conditions in which they live put you right there in the action. And there's plenty of action, suspense,heroic acts, heart-breaking sadness, and a very shocking twist that completely took me by surprise. The main character, Luka, wears many boots: husband, father, respected man in the village, professional soldier, and a very loyal uncle to his kidnapped niece. He reminds me of the movie hero, Rambo, in that he is a "one man army" at times, and survives unbelievably brutal conditions throughout the story. I didn't want this incredible story to end! I have a new found respect for the people in this region, and will remember this story often when I'm outside walking on my frozen lake in northern Wisconsin this winter. I highly recommend this book!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    Excellent. Shades of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

    Excellent. Shades of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Anon

    Dan Smith has found a way to take you into the mind of an honest man who has balanced pragmatism with emotion; Luka is believable because of his insistent humanity as he faces survival against all odds. A truly rewarding read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2013

    Sorry agian were was i oh yes stuipd posting problem

    I was uh yes if you love a good storie about a child than you would like this book i sertenly did it was amazing !!!!!! How absurd though!!?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2013

    Great Book

    This book was on the under $5.00 list and I was so surprised that it turned out to be so good. I really enjoyed it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    This book is one you will not be able to put down. It is very well written. I stayed up late at night reading because I wanted to know what would happen next. You will not be disappointed at any time during this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2013

    Interesting reading

    I liked this tale and the twists and turns of the plot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2013

    The Child Thief

    Excellent book start to finish. Hard to put down

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2013

    Wonderful Book

    A very unique plot and well written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    Great Read

    Excellent read, couldn't put it down. Highly, highly recommend! Just when I thought these people couldn't endure more, they did. Well rounded, likeable characters, plot moved along at a great pace. Buy it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    Amazing

    Had a great ending. I couldn't put my nook down!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted May 10, 2014

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    Posted December 11, 2013

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    Posted July 26, 2014

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    Posted October 14, 2013

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    Posted December 2, 2013

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