You know how sometimes you judge a book by its cover? Come, on...we all have done it. I am so guilty of making this mistake with Child 44. I also prejudged the story based on the blurb. And I am the first to admit that I was so wrong!
The first few pages really reel the reader into the story. It is the Ukraine at the height of the vast famine that overtook the country in the 30's- you can feel the despair, hunger and desperation. From there the story jumps to a more modern Stalinist era and an incredible action filled chase.
Tom Rob Smith can weave two seemingly disparate events together into an page turning read fest. I couldn't wait to see how the prologue fit into the story overall.
Officer Leo Demidov is the hero of the story and I initially despised his relentless faith in the 'system' and uncompromising loyalty to the common (Stalinist) good. As with any system, when there is mass paranoia, deceit and suspicion it is almost impossible to win. Demidov finds out first hand how he not only was used an instrument for evil purposes but also how precarious each person's position is in a totalitarian system.
It also cleared up for me how there has always 'seemed' to be such low crime rates in communist countries. If anyone admits the system is broken then questions start to bubble to the surface. Proving that a killer is on the loose is a challenge for anyone who wants to keep their privileged status. Will Demidov ensure that others are protected from the killer or will he protect his own position in the system? I can't wait to read the next book and hoping that the writing, plot and character development stays this strong.