Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to Ma Russia + a mystery

The Book: Child 44
The Writer: Tom Robb Smith
The Deal: If you like exquisitely fashioned writing with no loose ends left dangling, this is the book for you. It was pitched to me as 'a serial killer running around post WWII Russia- where crime is non-existent, per state order'. So, I hopped aboard. I must tell you, in the first few chapters, I alternated re-reading the back cover and plumbing the depths of the storyline, waiting for the serial murder part to kick in. Then, I got it: Smith is a writer who meticulously sets each player up as a fully-realised entity. Only then does he move forward, stealthy as a cat, to a set of circumstances. Then, connects each as delicately as a brain surgeon. What amazed me was that, even someone mentioned in passing, was not to be forgotten or cast aside in the interests of rapid fire plot devises. No character left behind is the maxim by which this book lives. And live it does. Once you are involved with the major players, the book picks up speed. I found I had to get the book on CD, as well, since I could not bear to be parted for those trips 64 miles up and back, to teach, at night. Whether this is a good thing or, as Prendie would say, an 'other' thing, I had this enormous cast of characters to keep me company on the route home. After dark. By myself.
I had figured that Smith must have been born and raised in Russia (not so); amazingly, he only visited once, after he began the story, to make sure of his geography. I also pictured him, in a tiny room, completely surrounded by post-its, maps and string-connected index cards, carrying important facts and 'persons of interest'. If you enjoyed The Devil In The White City and Thunderstruck, you really need to investigate Child 44.

Grading Session: 4.5+ stars out of 5. I have to 'point down' strictly because I had to wait patiently to download the essentials before we even got to 'Child One'. But, if you crave well-plotted, character-centric mysteries- and be warned, this is not for people who are squeamish about the essential plot device (a serial murderer, after all)- look no further than Child 44.

Lessons Learned: Don't talk to strangers- even if they have this killer collection of stamps you simply must see. Also, don't think that because you have stopped thinking about someone, that they have stopped thinking about you...and not always in a perky, happy to see you! way.

No comments:

Post a Comment