24 October 2007

Child 44

As anyone who knows me will know, I very reluctantly will read a book outside of my chosen genre – only if bullied or cajoled by someone who’s opinion I trust… Lady Doore, Packfordshire, Heat magazine…

A new bully/friend-from-new-work (who’s opinion I now trust) together with Ridley Scott (who’s bought the movie rights) persuaded me to try a first novel by a rather dashing young man who nine years younger than I am, and half Swedish (if that’s relevant at all) who has recently completed a six month stint in Phnom Penh story lining Cambodia’s first ever soap….. ahem.

Child 44 could not be further from my first choice of book to read if it tried. Opening in Ukraine in 1933 with the line “Since Maria had decided to die her cat would have to fend for itself”, I kind of knew there would be very few troubled relationships, cocktail parties and spending sprees down Bond Street.

I was gripped.

Chapter 2 opens twenty years later in Moscow with the apparent disappearance of a young boy following a rather fierce snowball fight…and Leo Demidov, a member of the Ministry of State Security, being instructed to convince the family who believe their son was murdered that crime simply doesn’t exist in the Soviet Union in 1953….

What unfolds is a really vivid and gruesome story which sees Leo risking everything to pursue a horrific killer….

About a quarter of the way through the book I started wondering what Chapter 1 has to do with the rest of the story.

About half way through a very small penny started to drop.

About three quarters of the way through I downed tools and couldn’t/wouldn’t stop reading till the end.

A couple of scenes will probably stay with me for a long time; and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to think of camphor oil without going cold, but more than that is the fact that I read a book without a pastel cover, and loved every minute of it.

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