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The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

The Secret Speech

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Tom Rob Smith’s debut novel, Child 44, was one of the runaway successes of 2008 and his follow up novel is equally gripping. Set in the Soviet Union of 1956, Stalin is dead and when a secret manifesto is released, to the nation, claiming he was a tyrant and murderer and the Soviet Union must transform, cracks that were already forming in this fragile society start to break wide open and who to trust is impossible to know. From the streets of Moscow to the Siberian gulags this fast paced thriller will keep you hooked on the action from the start. A brilliant look at what might have been.

If you like Tom Rob Smith you might also like to read books by Alan Furst, Robert Wilson and Simon Montefiore.

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The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

Soviet Union, 1956: Stalin is dead. With his passing, a violent regime is beginning to fracture - leaving behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. The catalyst comes when a secret manifesto composed by Stalin's successor Khrushchev is distributed to the entire nation.

Its message: Stalin was a tyrant and a murderer. Its promise: The Soviet Union will transform. But there are forces at work that are unable to forgive or forget Stalin's tyranny so easily, that demand revenge of the most appalling nature.

Meanwhile, former MGB officer Leo Demidov is facing his own turmoil. The two young girls he and his wife Raisa adopted have yet to forgive him for his involvement in the murder of their parents. They are not alone.

Now that the truth is out, Leo, Raisa and their family are in grave danger from someone with a grudge against Leo. Someone transformed beyond recognition into the perfect model of vengeance.From the streets of Moscow in the throes of political upheaval, to the wintry Siberian gulags and to Budapest, where a revolution will destroy as many innocent lives as the regime it is attempting to end, The Secret Speech is another stunning thriller from the author of the Booker- longlisted Child 44.


'TOM ROB SMITH, 30 His first novel, Child 44, appeared on last year's Booker longlist. Worked his magic again with The Secret Speech this year'

'S BEST YOUNG WRITER'S, Evening Standard 30/4 'An epic journey across the blasted Siberian landscape to the dreaded Gulag 57. As with Child 44, Smith's historiography is exact and his early career as a scriptwriter shows in his feel for the necessary rhythms of plot. The feints, bluggs and reveals keep it all rattling along'
The Herald, 25

/4 'The follow-up to smash-hit Child 44 is also set in post-war Russia and follows investigator Leo Demidov from that book as he attempts to protect his family from someone with a grudge against him. VERDICT: As good as Child 44 *****
Heat 16

/5 'This second outing for the conflicted former Soviet law enforcer Leo Demidov shows that the proposed trilogy of novels will be something special... Smith has spoken of his admiration for Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, in which the protagonist has to atone for collusion with evil. That book is a template for Leo's ordeal in The Secret Speech, and if the comparison seems grandiose, one has to admire Smith's ambition. The moral conflicts just about keep pace with the tension in a narrative packed with a dizzying mass of incident
Barry Forshaw, Independent 13

/5 'The central Leo-Fraera-Zoya triangle, interdependent though enemies, is brilliantly conceived and the scenes featuring them are invariably vivid
Sunday Times 8

/6 'Riots, plane crashes and a steadily building body count make this one very packed and chilly ride
Book of the Week, Mirror 10

/4 'Violent actions follow relentlessly on every page. This is a tragic portrait of Russia's brutality. The novel is good, and it's good for you too - educational and informative. But you need a strong stomach for it
Literary Review April issue

'Following his debut child 44, The Secret Speech follows former war hero Leo Demidov and his family as they try to survive the collapse of society in post-Stalinist Russia. A powerful page-turner'
GQ, May issue

'A relentless cold-war thriller set during Stalin's dying days, Child 44 focused on the efforts of officer Leo Demidov to track down a serial killer despite a state ideologically insistent that crime couldn't exist in a utopian society. Avowedly commercial, feverishly executed and soaked in the violent paranoia of Soviet Russia, it won readers acclaim and a place on the Booker longlist...he's just published the follow-up, The Secret Speech. Stalin is dead, Krushchev is in power and Leo and his wife Raisa are struggling to bring up the two orphaned girls they adopted at the end of Child 44. Krushchev's reform and rapprochement policies provided Smith with a ready-made historical backdrop for examining ideas of guilt and repercussions'
Interview, Metro 9

/4 'In a market saturated by production-line thrillers, Child 44 stood out like Hannibal Lecter at a serial killers

... its sequel maintains the momentum . .. If it's thrills you are after, this book delivers. It's a great piledriver of a read
Charlie Higson, Guardian 4

/5 'Tom Rob Smith is patently a talented writer with a rich and complex period to explore
Louise France, Observer 5

/5 'As a study of betrayal at every level The Secret Speech is masterly. It brilliantly portrays a society stripped of every element of love, trust and respect; compassion is a weakness to be exploited and denunciation is accepted with resignation...Read this and shiver
Sunday Telegraph 5

/5 'This is a fast-paced...action thriller set in an exciting period
Peter Millar, The Times 28

/3 'Smith paints a chilling picture of post-Stalinist Russia, and never lets the pace flag as Demidov tries to save his family from foes out for vengeance
TheLondonPaper 7


Remarkable... In Smith's hands [the] scenes attain a pulse of exhilaration worthy of Dickens by way of Conrad...a broadening of moral scope and thematic richness...rendered with passionate and indelible precision.

Dennis Lehane 'Former secret police officer Leo Dormidov goes from hunter to hunted. He knows what to do to save his family, but is it possible? Ace
The Sun 12


About the Author

Tom Rob Smith

Born in 1979 to a Swedish mother and an English father, Tom Rob Smith's bestselling novels in the Child 44 trilogy were international publishing sensations. Among its many honours, Child 44 won the International Thriller Writer Award for Best First Novel, the Galaxy Book Award for Best New Writer, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the inaugural Desmond Elliot Prize. Child 44 is now a major motion picture starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman.

Author photo © Bildschön/Mark Bassett

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Book Info

Publication date

6th April 2009


Tom Rob Smith

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Simon & Schuster Ltd


496 pages


Action Adventure / Spy
Books for the Boys
Thriller / Suspense
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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