Book Note: Child 44

I’m a sucker for magazine and website articles like 87 Ways to Save More.  They tend to be full of good advice, like pay off your highest credit card first, and just subscribe to basic cable.

The fact is, however, that I am cheap.  I pay off credit cards in full each month, and we don’t have cable at all, so really, the only advice that can help me save is stop wasting money buying magazines in order to read inapplicable advice on saving money.

I resolved to get a library card, and have challenged myself to become as avid a reader as I was in my youth.  I have absolved myself of any duty to read important or meaningful books, so have not yet checked out any Tolstoy.  I’m not swearing off classics or high literature, but I’m just giving myself a break.

Like it or not, I will be delivering book reports as I make my way through the stacks!  Recommendations will be welcomed, considered, and probably followed.

Last week, based purely on the illustration and jacket blurb, I picked Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, a murder mystery set in the USSR during Stalin’s final days.

(And Tom Rob Smith – what a name!  I ran it through the anagram finder, because I figured it couldn’t really be just Tom Rob Smith, but unless Robots Hmm It or Mobs Mirth To mean something to you, then I guess it really is just his name.)

The Stalin angle elevated it from a so-so mystery to a fascinating read.  In a worker’s paradise, where everyone is equal and everyone has all they need, there is no crime.  Faced with clear evidence of a deranged serial killer, the hero must not only follow the clues, but do so against the express wishes of the police and secret service, who, for political reasons, deny any crimes have occurred.

I don’t know if it was intentional, but the writing, at least in the first half of the book, made me feel like I was waiting in a bread line, which gave me a real feel for Stalin-era life.  Get to the point, comrade, and loosen up!

No shortage of doublespeak, denouncements, torture, and people working institutional paranoia to their benefit.  From the way the book ended, I smell a series.  I’d probably read it.

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