The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith is the action-packed follow-up to Child 44. Based in Russia in the 1950s, it is set soon after the fall of Stalin. Three years have went by since the first book and Stalin has died. The protagonist Leo Demidov is trying to be a good father to his two daughters and a good other half to his wife Raisa. He now is at the helm of his own homicide department and is trying to put his past of torturing behind him. This makes him a very complex protagonist.
Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor, compiles The Secret Speech in order to distance the new regime from the violence of the former period. The speech is supposedly supposed to be secret but is leaked throughout Russia causing many of Stalin’s former henchmen to feel incredibly exposed and unsafe. It is rumoured that some senior officials have had heart attacks or committed suicide following the reveal of the speech. Demidov is a former loyal follower and servant of the regime and one of his victims who was sent to prison for seven years comes back to seek revenge.
The book has a very quick pace and is based on the time leading up to the 1956 uprising in Hungary. The process of de-Stalinization is underway and following the speech two separate entities are central in book: on one side the vory and on the other side the state’s torturers and killers. The vory start a campaign against those who helped uphold Stalin’s rule. Demidov was three years with the secret police and was responsible for sending hundreds of people to the gulags, the torture chambers and the executioner. He now has turned over a new leaf and lives with his wife Raisa and his daughters Zoya and Elena in Moscow. Raisa and Leo adopted Zoya and Elena after Leo sent their birth parents to their death. Elena is the youngest and she has settled into the family, the eldest Zoya on the other hand hasn’t. She harbours thoughts of revenge and stands over Leo while he is asleep holding a knife wishing she could kill him.
Meanwhile Fraera, the vory leader who was imprisoned by Leo seven years earlier, also has revenge on her mind towards both Leo and his family. Leo had sent her husband and her to the gulag in the past. She tells him that she “was nothing until I hated you.” She kidnaps Zoya. Zoya becomes a member of the vory going on missions with a young guy called Malysh and they fall in love.
The book has a huge theme in second chances and the follower mentality of human nature. Personally I couldn’t get past the evilness in Leo’s past and the following orders thing didn’t make me feel any different about him and I didn’t particularly like him but not every central character has to be likable in books. My favourite character was Raisa and I also liked the romance between Zoya and Malysh.
Described as “brilliant (Chicago Tribune), “remarkable” (Newsweek) and “sensational” (Entertainment Weekly) I would have to agree. A wonderfully crafted book by a very talented writer.
My review of Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer by E.R. Barr is now up on onlinebookclub.org. It was wonderful as a writer to get the chance to review another writer’s work and it was a really great read. 🙂
My short story collection All You Need Is Love: Short Story Collection is now available to buy on Amazon. There is six stories in it: a longer short story and five shorter ones. I enjoyed putting and hope that everyone will enjoy reading it too. 🙂
To purchase All You Need Is Love: Short Story Collection go to:
I have always been a huge Agatha Christie fan and love a lot of amateur detectives. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at doing my own detective series. And this is the first in the series! 🙂
Entitled Rory Murphy Mysteries: The Church Murders the book centres around my amateur detective Rory Murphy and his boyfriend Joseph, his friend Steven and Steven’s boyfriend Simon as they investigate three murders where the bodies are found on Church alters.
Hope you all like it and it keeps you guessing.
To purchase Rory Murphy Mysteries: The Church Murders go to:
I love reality TV so the idea to set a novel in a reality TV setting was an idea I had for a long time. One Step Closer is set in a reality singing contest. The synopsis goes as follows:
The new TV singing competition One Step Closer is about to start. Follow the ups, downs, the performances and the relationships before the cameras and behind the scenes with the judges Mark, Lucy, Benjamin, Cody and Emily and with contestants like Gavin, Lee, Quarter Note, Katie, Jake and Ocean 5. It’s the first season. Let the adventure begin …
I loved writing it. It is the first in a series of books and can be purchased at:
My new book Hours of Darkness is now available on Amazon. It is a thriller where a spree of murders by a lone gun man take place. Can policeman Michael Hennessy-Walsh solve the case with partner Ian Doyle?
Loved writing it because I love reading mysteries so it was a good experience. 🙂
Bonds That Bind: A Short Story Collection (2016) by Writings by Ender and Beautiful / Losers Magazine founder Austin L. Wiggins is a beautifully written collection of six short stories: The Bird That Flew Overhead, One Man’s Sin, Radiance, The Outsider, Of Flowers and What Ails Us. The book is thought-provoking and asks of readers exactly how far their moral compass goes.
The characters in each of these collections share two traits: a sense of being flawed but also of being human. These stories have very realistic and relateable characters in extraordinary circumstances which many readers will hope they are never in. Written in a very accessible style each story drags you in making you want to continue reading to find out what will happen. There is a beautiful descriptive style to the writing.
The Bird That Flew Overhead has many stunning descriptive lines and is a great opener for the book. The tension and anticipation is very well written in this story and leaves the reader wanting to know how it will end. One Man’s Sin is an intriguing tale of a 40-year-old revenge and once again the reader’s attention is held brilliantly throughout. Although all the stories are great, the best in my opinion is the third story entitled Radiance. The plot is so good and so original. It is the story of George whose best friend Joe has had an affair with George’s wife but is now going to kill himself out of guilt. It is down to George to stop him from doing so. A very interesting plot and keeps your attention to the end as you wait to see whether George will show his humanity or not in light of what he knows. The Outsider is wonderfully written. It deals with quite a mundane situation. Derek is in The Pacific City Wind Ensemble and we as readers get a great sense of his inner feelings about being part of the ensemble and the different personalities of the members. Fascinating and an excellent commentary on human communications. Of Flowers is an interesting story with a bit of a James Patterson feel to it. From one best-selling crime writer to another the final story What Ails Us has a bit of a John Grisham feel to it. We follow Glenda’s story as Price interviews her and it is a cleverly written and thought-provoking plot.
If you would like to read Bonds That Bind: A Short Story Collection by Austin L. Wiggins go to: