Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Secret Speech, by Tom Rob Smith

Following his successful first novel Child 44, Tom Rob Smith continues the story of Leo Demidov in The Secret Speech.  Since his vindication as an investigator in Child 44, Demidov is back in Moscow, heading his own office.  But a criminal group has begun targeting officers of the secret police who abducted and abused their victims.  Demidov is a prime target.  The wife of a priest he arrested now heads up a criminal gang.  They kidnap Demidov's daughter, and he must free the priest in order to get his daughter back.

The Secret Speech is wide ranging and less coherent than Child 44.  In The Secret Speech, Demidov becomes more of an action hero.  He is Jason Bourne, Liam Neeson in Taken, or Jack Ryan.  And just as those fictional counterparts leave a trail of destruction in their wake, so does Demidov.

I enjoyed Smith's weaving of Russian history into the story.  Krushchev's speech, the labor camps, the revolution in Hungary, and Demidov being tossed around by these historical waves all worked together to personalize this period of history, even in done in rather implausible ways.  I enjoyed The Secret Speech, although not as much as Child 44.  This one is less crime fiction, more political suspense thriller.

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