Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Secret Speech - Tom Rob Smith

I actually finished this last week but it’s a book that you need to take a bit of a step away from to sort out all in your head. Partly because it’s quite complex (I admit I got a little confused once or twice) and also because there’s so much action in it you feel like you have lived it with the characters. Yes I can say that Rob Tom Smith’s The Secret Speech is just as thrilling as its predecessor Child 44, only in a completely different way. Now how do I review this without giving anything away from either of the books?

The Secret Speech is the second in what is now going to be the Leo Demidov Trilogy. The first Child 44 was all about a serial child murdered in the early 1950’s before Stalin’s regime comes to an end (that doesn’t give anything away does it). Now we meet the former MGB Agent Leo Demidov once more now as the head of his own special homicide department, the first that Russia has sanctioned. Oddly this homicide department doesn’t see much action in this book as it’s all about the time after Stalin’s rule and how Russia seems to turn on its head the police are now the criminals and that includes Leo. How will society react to the fact that all they saw Stalin implement is denounced in ‘The Secret Speech’ and will they seek revenge on their former rulers and tormentors?

Behind this is also a big family plot for Leo and his wife Raisa as they bring up two young girls they have adopted and who aren’t taking to Leo at all. How will Leo cope when one of his own daughters is used as the perfect weapon for revenge from an enemy of his past changed beyond recognition?

The Secret Speech isn’t quite the crime thriller that Child 44 was its still very good though. Instead this is a thriller of two very different plots, one is the political thriller and one is the personal family thriller and they work very well together and take Leo on quite the adventure through Siberia and Budapest. I did find some parts very confusing though partly because so much is happening very quickly and occasionally action seems to overcome explanation but this is very rare and sometimes I needed to re-read parts of the book. This is probably my own fault because in wanting to know what’s happening and finding it so addictive I was whizzing through the pages. If I had to compare them I would say Child 44 has the edge just because I love crime, however I did really enjoy the mix of personal drama and political thriller and still find the whole era in Russia’s history really interesting and cannot wait for the next one.

Oh and if you thought that the last one was gory and that this one not being about a serial killer it would be any easier you would be mistaken. There isn’t any cat killing in this one though, so cat lovers can sleep tight. My interview with Tom Rob Smith will be up the week after next (nearer the release of the book in just under three weeks) I can tell you he was quite lovely though.

3 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I had NO IDEA there was a Leo trilogy...I am totally psyched. When I read Child 44, I was sad to see the character go, as he was very rich and I felt I knew him (and liked him). I may try listening to this one on audio. Child 44 was a good listening experience, and maybe listening will cut down on the confusion (or not!).

farmlanebooks said...

I'm really interested in both books now, and can't wait to see the interview - did you have tea and biscuits with him?! Was it in his house? I think I could give you a whole interview about what it was like to interview an author!

Simon Savidge said...

Sandy - it might be a great listen actually though do they edit them a lot? I havent a great depth of knowledge with audio books. I didnt know it was a trilogy till the interview. Leo is a brilliant character. Very like Broadie in the Kate Atkinson crimey novels she does.

Farmlane - it was in his amazing apartment/penthouse and it was more donuts and tea lol. The books are great and though I personally liked Child 44 a bit more that was simply because I like a good crime novel! The Secret Speech is ace though!