Category Archives: Tom Rob Smith

The Farm – Tom Rob Smith

Without making myself sound up my own bottom or like I am some connoisseur of the genre, but it does take a rather different crime to really make my deerstalking covered ears prick up and I settle down to devour a good crime novel (with my pipe and my smoking jacket) in one big gulp because I can’t get enough. This is exactly what happened when I read The Farm by Tom Rob Smith. He who wrote Child 44 which is one of my favourite crime novels of recent years. Oh, though in reality I don’t actually wear a Sherlock Holmes outfit when I read crime fiction, but it’s an idea.

Simon & Schuster, hardback, 2014, fiction, 368 pages, kindly sent by Riot Communications

Imagine one day you are on your way back from Tesco/Waitrose (or any other supermarket) and you get a call from your father out of the blue telling you that your mother is unwell, it isn’t something physical or something terminal, your mother has had a mental breakdown of some sort and she believes that something, which your father won’t divulge, dreadful has happened. This is the rather intense and intriguing way that Tom Rob Smith starts The Farm, yet this is only the beginning.

‘Dad?’ ‘Your mother… She’s not well.’ ‘Mum’s sick?’ ‘It’s so sad.’ ‘Sad because she’s sick? Sick how? How’s Mum sick?’ Dad was still crying. All I could do was dumbly wait until he said: ‘She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things.’

Things get even stranger, very quickly so I am not spoiling anything, as no sooner has Daniel spoken to his father and packed to head for Sweden (where his parents have moved to) he receives a call from the airport from his mother, Tilde. She has been released from the psychiatric ward she had been placed in by her husband and is about to get a flight to Daniel to tell him her story, a story he might not believe and might implicate his own father in having been part of something very dark and very wrong.

To say too much more about the plot would be to spoil what is a fantastically gripping account of a woman who goes back to her homeland, taking her husband with her, to live a life close to nature on a remote farm which at first seems idyllic and soon turns into a nightmare for her.

Looking out the window I was reminded of just how lonely this landscape was. In Sweden, outside the cities, the wilderness rules supreme. People tiptoe timidly around the edge, surrounded by skyscraping fir trees and lakes larger than entire nations. Remember, this is the landscape that inspired the mythology of trolls, stories I used to read to you about giant lumbering man-eating creatures with mushroom warts on their crooked noses and bellies like boulders. Their sinewy arms can rip a person in two, snapping human bones and using splinters to scrape the gristle out of their shrapnel teeth. Only in forests as vast as this could such monsters be hiding, yellow eyes stalking you.  

There are lots of things that are marvellous about The Farm. The main thing for me was the sense of unreliability throughout. Tom Rob Smith has Tilde recount what has happened to her, from her perspective, from start to finish providing items she feels prove her story. These are interjected with questions from Daniel as he tries to understand, as we readers try and figure it all out, and also interjections from his father, Chris, calling trying to find out what is going on and trying to tell Daniel his mother has had a breakdown and isn’t to be believed.

This adds a marvellous sense of tension to the book. Which parent should we believe? Has Chris been part of something horrendous? Has Tilde misread what she has seen with so much additional time on her hands in the remote wilderness, has she escaped to a place of trolls from her childhood, has she gone mad or could she be telling the truth? You are constantly second guessing all of the characters as you read on and just when you think you have taken a side, something happens to make you change your mind. It is a web intricately spun.

What adds to this is the fact The Farm is laced with secrets. As we read on we learn there are many secrets behind the façade of this family (as in real life). Why did Tilde and Chris really leave the UK and head to the middle of nowhere? What happened in Tilde’s childhood which led her to fleeing her home country and makes everyone question her all the more? What is really going on in the neighbouring farm of Håkan Greggson (a brilliantly constructed neighbourhood bully, who I loved to loathe) behind closed doors? What secret is Daniel himself keeping from his parents? Throw in the atmosphere of Sweden with is brooding landscape, mythology and remote nature and how can a read fail to be compelled?

I thought The Farm was superb. Cliché alert, I couldn’t put it down. I read it in just two settings begrudgingly putting it down when I selfishly needed some sleep before waking up very early to get back into it. Tom Rob Smith creates a genuinely thrilling mystery where secrets brood along with the atmosphere. Whilst also being a gripping read it looks at the stories we tell our families and also, more importantly, what we leave out. It also takes an interesting look at mental health and asks some big questions surrounding that. All in all The Farm is a multi-layered compulsively readable thriller that puzzles and provokes. One of my books of the year so far.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Books of 2014, Review, Riot Communications, Simon & Schuster, Tom Rob Smith

Simon’s Bookish Bits #3

The first bookish bits of 2010 is a bit jam packed, I apologise though it will be worth it. There is a lot of help and recommendations needed today but as a thanks there is a chance of a winning some goodies (ooooh). One thing that there won’t be is any moaning reports on how difficult it is to not buy books as I am saving that for Monday I will be reporting back on that soon enough.

So first up was a bit of a request from one of your favourite non blogging people Granny Savidge Reads, or just Gran, who whilst on the phone the other day asked me if I could post something on the blog. She would love to hear some bookish thoughts from you all about ‘The Blue Flower’ by Penelope Fitzgerald. Now the message was a bit garbled as she was in the middle of stripping the kitchen but I gather that this was a choice at one of the many book groups that she is a member of which got cancelled. So she is now feeling slightly annoyed she can’t discuss it and as I hadn’t read it I couldn’t discuss it with her. If you have reviewed it on your blog leave a link as well as your thoughts and I think Gran will pop by. If they are rave reviews who knows it might go on my wish list.

It seems Gran has been rather snowed in, hence the book group cancellation and so no Blue Flower chat, as I showed you in a picture I am now going to show you again as it links to my next enquiry.

Books based in the snow! Yes, it’s been snowing in the UK if you have somehow managed to miss it. I was listening to the Guardian Books Podcast (this weeks favourite Podcast) was all about snow, when it wasn’t about the Costa winners including the amazing Brooklyn which is Costa Novel of the Year – it must be overall book of the year. Sorry I digressed back to snowy books… Overall I wasn’t too sure of their recommendations;

  • The Snow Tourist – David English
  • Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
  • The Shipping News – Annie Proulx
  • Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard – Sara Wheeler
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  • The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
  • Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow – Peter Hoeg
  • The People’s Act of Love – James Meek
  • The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

Though I had heard of some, and of course read The Snowman (though I am not after Christmassy tales) as a child, most I know little or nothing about and so wondered which snow filled books would you recommend to me, would any of the above be on the list? Mine would be ‘Child 44’ by Tom Rob Smith which has some murders in the snow or my most recent snow filled read, and one that I adored, ‘Legend of a Suicide’ by David Vann. Both I have realised are quite dark snow filled books.

Funnily enough this book ties in with a giveaway, the first two of three opportunities to win a copy this marvellous book from the very kind people of Penguin open to you internationally. If you pop a link or your thoughts on ‘The Blue Flower’ by Penelope Fitzgerald then you will be entered into one draw. Leave recommendations for snow filled reading then you will be entered into another draw for a copy. Do both and you double your chances, you have until the end of Tuesday… Good luck!

P.S I know you would have all joined in without prizes but I do love a good giveaway!

67 Comments

Filed under David Vann, Dorothy Savidge, Give Away, Penelope Fitzgerald, Penguin Books, Simon's Bookish Bits, Tom Rob Smith

Books of 2009

As the end of the year draws in I find that I become quite reflective. I have actually had a bit of an issue with reading this week and wonder if that is an end of year thing, more on that at some other point. 2009 has been a big year for this blog; it’s also been a big year for my reading. It seems a delightful coincidence that today as I wrap up my best reads of 2009 it is also my 500th post which I think deserves some fireworks…

My original idea of doing my ‘best of’ like I did last year with The Savidge Dozen just wasn’t working. I have read too many brilliant books and so I thought I would instead do two separate top ten’s. The first being my favourite books published or re-issued in 2009 itself which was hard and actually I got down to a final twelve but I had to cut the delightful books Notwithstanding and ‘The Earth Hums in B Flat’ and be tough to make the ten which are (click on each title for full review)…

10. Legend of a Suicide by David Vann – One of the most emotionally raw novels I have ever read. Fictional accounts of a father’s suicide, the events leading up to it and the effects of this tragedy on his son and others around him, based in parts on the authors own fathers suicide. Moving and masterfully written.  

9. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood – The first of two Atwood novels that truly made my year. This dark (and often darkly funny) tale of the future of humanity starts off sounding like something out of a sci-fi novel yet disturbingly slowly reads as a not too distant possibility.  

8. After The Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld – Without question the debut novel of the year for me. A book many are labelling as being a ‘War book’, I wouldn’t 100% agree with that as its so much more. The author calls it a ‘romantic thriller about men who don’t speak’ I would call it ‘a book about the dark truths behind the faces of those we love’ a compelling and moving read.

7. Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill – Some loved it some hated it, I revelled in it. Susan Hill’s thoughts on some of her books and the people she met who wrote them. And she popped by and made a comment or two.

6. The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan – A fictional account of those famous Bronte Sisters which sadly didn’t get the Man Booker notice it should have. This brings the Bronte’s to life and you will think of them slightly differently. Made me want to read every Bronte book I could… as yet I haven’t started but a possible resolution for 2010, that or read all of Morgan’s prior works.

5. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – The deserved winner from the Man Booker Shortlist and the one I guessed (though I was hoping a certain other book would win, see below). I thought that there had been Tudor fiction overload, I was wrong just as I was wrong that reading a book about Thomas Cromwell that was huge would bore me to death, I was enthralled and enwrapped.

4. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie – The only way I can think of to describe this book which skips such a huge expanse of time is ‘a war torn epic’. I thought this was marvellous and was thrilled I got to hear her speak about it and even ask her a question; I was a bit in awe.

3. Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran – Definitely the non fiction book of 2009, well published in 2009. Getting a glimpse into the private world of such a marvellous author and how her criminal mastermind brain worked and plotted was utterly fascinating.

2. Henrietta’s War by Joyce Dennys – Technically not actually released originally in 2009, but thankfully brought back from the past thanks to the wonderful Bloomsbury Group. The tale of Henrietta and the villagers she lives with during the war had me laughing out loud all over the place.

1. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin – A book I fell wholly in love with from start to finish. It might not have the biggest plot or be brimming with a huge cast of characters but its simplicity is what makes it so stunning. An interesting look at the life of a woman who is sent to be saved from the poverty in Ireland by being shipped to America, only not everyone wants to be saved. Utterly stunning and quietly intense.

***

Then I had the ridiculous task of finding the ten ‘best of the rest’ which in a year where I read such delights as The Secret Scripture (which lost a point or two for the ending I won’t lie) and the joy Miss Garnett’s Angel and had a Sensation Season was going to be tough. OK, so it’s not quite ten but it’s as close as I could get. The final ten (cough, eleven) are…

10. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith – I wasn’t convinced that a thriller based on a child murderer in the time of Stalinist Russia would work for me. I was utterly wrong as I think for me it’s been the thriller of the year. Also thrilling was getting to go to Tom’s house for coffee and questions.

9. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood – Proof that sometimes books can be hard work but all that hard work is definitely worth it. Opening with the suicide of the narrator’s sister, this becomes an epic novel of the lives of the Chase sisters and the effects of the Second World War. Also comes with an intriguing novel inside the novel and a sci-fi-ish novel inside that one, are you keeping up?

8. State of Happiness by Stella Duffy – I am a big admirer of Stella and her work and this to me is her best fiction yet (oh but wait for the next one in 2010) despite loving her latest book The Room of Lost Things in 2008. This is a tale about love and ultimately death and it broke my heart and made me cry quite a lot. If you are up for an emotional journey and wonderful writing you simply cannot miss this book.

7. Lady into Fox by David Garnett – Wonderful surreal and touching fable of a husband and how he deals with his wife randomly turning into a fox one day. This is may only be 96 pages long but each page is perfection.

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – Most of the planet with have read this novel so I will simply say a modern classic masterpiece about a dystopian future where we are all under the watchful all seeing eye of Big Brother and should ever be fearful of Room 101.  

5. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett – My first year of reading Persephone books and this one just took me on a journey that I wasn’t expecting. A sensational tale of rich American heiresses, one whom meekly marries an Englishman for a title and vanishes, the other a forthright woman who wishes to seek her sister out and solve the mystery of what has befallen her.

4. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – A total surprise hit of 2009 for me. I never thought that a ‘sci-fi’ book about a mentally handicapped man and a genius mouse would grab me let alone move me to tears and yet this frankly marvellous book did exactly that.

3. Small Island by Andrea Levy – Really this is a modern masterpiece. A tale of two completely different women brought together through war and adversity. Also a tale of forbidden love, war, racism and hope, a remarkable book I was glad Granny Savidge Reads recommended so strongly and so often.

2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – This book is what I may now consider the greatest nonfiction book I have ever read (so far – though unlikely to be beaten). A true tale of the ruthless killing of a family in America, and a thought provoking quite often disturbing study of their murderers. In parts bleak and horrific, it’s also emotional (I cried at this one too) and yet a darkly fascinating insight into the minds of killers.  

1. East Lynne by Ellen Wood/Armadale by Wilkie Collins – Technically I am cheating but I really couldn’t decide between these two. The epic scope, characters and thrilling plots of each of these was utterly remarkable. In a year where I rediscovered my loved of all things sensational I found these two new favourite books. Both of these are genuine gems of sensation novels and couldn’t have more mystery, twists, dramas or thrills if they tried.

***

I have to say I don’t think that minimal short snappy reviews are my fortes so do visit the full reviews, they are much better. Should you be really tough and ask me which out of this final twenty one would be my favourite of the year I would have to go with… Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. I know some people will be surprised after my sensation fiction love in and some of you won’t agree and that’s fine, though don’t push your negative comments below this post (ha, ha, ha), for me it was just wonderful and a true surprise delight in this years Man Booker Longlist read-a-thon. There will be much more Toibin to come in 2010 I promise you. Now I must dash as I have a party to prepare for (attending not hosting) and some resolutions to make… What have been your best books of 2009?

49 Comments

Filed under Agatha Christie, Andrea Levy, Books of 2009, Colm Toibin, Daniel Keyes, David Garnett, David Vann, Ellen Wood, Evie Wyld, Frances Hodgson Burnett, George Orwell, Hilary Mantel, John Curran, Jude Morgan, Kamila Shamsie, Margaret Atwood, Stella Duffy, Susan Hill, Tom Rob Smith, Truman Capote, Wilkie Collins

Savidge Reads Grills… Tom Rob Smith

It’s not everyday that your first novel sells millions, ends up on the Man Booker Long list, gets chosen by Richard and Judy and has the film rights bought by Ridley Scott. However Tom Rob Smith it did with his debut novel Child 44 and now he is hoping to follow that success with The Secret Speech. Savidge Reads was incredibly lucky to be able to pop round to his converted Jam Factory house for a nice cuppa, a catch up and some Jammy Dodgers… in what I am hoping will be a regular on here with ‘Savidge Reads Meets…’


Now for anyone who has been on Mars and missed the amazing success of Child 44 can you tell us a bit about it?
It is set in the 1950’s in Russia in the time leading up to Stalin’s death. It’s also actually based on a real life notorious Russian serial killer who got away with a horrendous amount of murders simply because people didn’t believe someone would do something like that and people weren’t looking for him. In fact they denied he existed and many innocent people were killed for the crimes he committed. I thought it was an interesting way to look at society then with a crime background. I wanted to write something that was a page turner something that was thrilling and hopefully that’s what it is.
How did you come up with a story like this?
I came across the original idea for a screen play; well I was researching a screen play which was an adaptation of a Jeff Noon short story about how to make serial killers safe in a science fiction world. As I knew nothing about serial killers I thought I should read up about them and came across the real life case which happened quite some years after the setting of Child 44. I just wanted to tell that story and then to have the whole Stalin Regime setting too worked for me.
How did you create the atmosphere of Stalinist Russia, as obviously you weren’t there…
Quite right yeah (laughs) it was all through other books really. In a way the weird thing, though a good thing, with the secret police was that they confiscated so much stuff particularly diaries. Now these people weren’t hoping to be published they were just daily diaries and they make amazing reading and snapshots of their lives and then I put myself in their positions.
So how do you put yourself in the mind of a killer? Reading the part from the killer’s perspective when he captures a victim is hard going I found as a reader personally…
Well the thing with that was that as you are dealing with a killer who has murdered many victims I didn’t want people to become immune to it, so you get a lot of mentions of the way bodies are found and the clues it leaves but then at the same time I wanted people to really feel the fear and the horror of the situation.
Well you did that at the start for me by killing a cat!
(Laughs) Well it wasn’t a cute cat, it was a scrawny cat. It had fought really hard to live that long but that’s the way it goes. I do have to kind of forcibly say to people ‘I do like cats’ (laughs) but it was true domestic animals disappeared very quickly at that time and I wondered about people who loved their pets enough not to eat them… so it was born out of sentamentalism
So now The Secret Speech which is set a while after Child 44, did you intend to write a sequel?
No, I had no idea. I didn’t even know if the first one would do well. Child 44 wasn’t presold when I wrote it I just wrote it. Once it had sold, I then thought ‘well is there another story’ and I knew if there was it would have to be another historical event and came across this marvellous speech and what happens after Stalin, so there was already a what happens next. I am not saying though as then no one will pick it up (laughs) so you’ll have to read it to find out. I will say its set in a fascinating period, it’s a revenge story in a world that’s completely upside down.
I have to say that I was really pleased Leo was back, but I have to admit I didn’t like him at first and then grew to really like him and warmed to him. How did you write him, were you aiming to get him to grow on the audience.
In a way… I mean at first I don’t think people twig he is even going to be the hero, I brought him into the book in a slightly peripheral way. Once people know he is the hero they say they find him hard to like until a good way in and that’s right. The job he did, though with his best intentions as to why he does it and his beliefs, is essentially a horrid job, they are the baddies. He does that job because he genuinely believes he is building a Utopia and that is hard for people to see and I wanted people to try and see it from a different perspective.
Was the instant success a shock?
Yes, you have this little dream in your head of what could happen and how well a book could do and how badly. Then when it does as well as Child 44 did, it’s a shock. Part of you is amazed and then part of you thinks what about the next one, will that do as well? If I do great, if I don’t I don’t mind… ok I do. I just wanted to write something I wanted to read, something exciting and new as I loved Conan Doyle and the like when I was younger. Plus I used to commute across London and to not have a book was hellish, I would actually walk back all the way home if I got to the station bookless. I wanted to write something that made people miss their stops, I didn’t think of the prizes or awards.
Now the Man Booker long listing caused a bit of controversy in some ways how was that for you as the author?
I didn’t mind the debate about genre particularly I think that’s actually an interesting debate. As to debating the book… well lists are always going to be debated and people will always say “oh this should be on there and that shouldn’t” that side of it didn’t bother me. I find the genre thing really interesting as all genres mean are a promise, so a thriller will thrill you and a comedy will make you laugh, that’s it it shouldn’t mean a book isn’t good if it is a crime book or some other genre that not what some people call literature.
Had you always wanted to write?
Yes, I mean I had been writing stuff for quite a long time in terms of plays and screenplays… and some TV. Mind you (laughs) most of the shows I worked on like Family Affairs and Bad Girls seem to have been dumped. Then when I found this story I decided that this might make a very interesting book as opposed to a screenplay which I was originally going to make it. Something clicked and fortunately it has really worked as a project. What’s your writing routine?
I like to start quite early and go on till lunch; have that and a nice walk then do more in the afternoon. I stop around six or seven; I am not a late writer. Do I have any rituals… hmmm… lots of tea (laughs) very British. When I am in American I become the worst Brit and complain about tea…
So what’s next?
Well… The Secret Speech is out, and then I am working on something with Universal screenplay wise. The million dollar question of what will happen with the Child 44 is something that’s in discussion and I am very excited about. I will then the final book in the Russian Trilogy which is a very definite ending, the whole book is about endings. It’s weird I didn’t ever expect it to be three books. I just thought I will try one and see how I go. See people can do anything.

10 Comments

Filed under Savidge Reads Grills..., Tom Rob Smith

A Month in Books: March & The Orange Prize

Can you believe March has almost been and gone, is it me or is this year going incredibly quickly? So as with February here is my review of the month as a whole. It has to be said on the whole it was a really good reading month, a very diverse range of authors and genres of books. March has been quite influenced by Richard and Judy looking back, mind you now their reads are over next month will be quite different, I still have The Cellist of Sarajevo to go though. I have also travelled a lot going to Los Angeles, New York three times, Russia under Stalin’s regime and the aftermath, Germany during both wars, in the land of theatre twice, strolled through Paris with Edmund White and been to Wonderland. It’s no wonder that I am shattered.

Books read: 12 which I think is a record.
Books added to the TBR Pile: 46 though I have absolutely no idea how that happened.
New author I tried and want to read ‘the works of’: Tom Rob Smith, and I did, all two.
Character of the month: Lilly Aphrodite
Best crime: Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith
Best non-fiction: The Flaneur – Edmund White
Surprise of the month: The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite – Beatrice Colin
Book of the month: Ok this month there are three. The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin, Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith and The State of Happiness by Stella Duffy which you all have to read.

I am excited about what April will bring. It already seems a promising month as I have started The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry and it seems like its going to be a complete corker what more could I ask for at the start of the month. Now this leads on to the next topic of my blog The Orange Prize. The long list has been announced and I have one (Blonde Roots) and heard of three others (Burnt Shadows, Girl in a Blue Dress and The Lost Dog – the latter two were long listed for the Man Booker last year) here is the full long list.

The Household Guide To Dying – Debra Adelaide (Harper Collins)
Girl in a Blue Dress – Gaynor Arnold (Tindal Street Press)
Their Finest Hour and a Half – Lissa Evans (Doubleday)
Blonde Roots – Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin)
Scottbro – Ellen Feldman (Picador)
Strange Music – Laura Fish (Jonathan Cape)
Love Marriage – V.V. Ganeshananthan (Orion)
Intuition – Allegra Goodman (Atlantic)
The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape)
The Invention of Everything Else – Samantha Hunt (Vintage)
The Lost Dog – Michelle De Krester (Vintage)
Molly Fox’s Birthday – Diedre Madden (Faber & Faber)
A Mercy – Toni Morrison (Vintage)
The Russian Dreambook of Colour & Flight – Gina Oschner (Portobello Books)
Home – Marilynne Robinson (Virago)
Evening Is The Whole Day – Preeta Samarasan (Fourth Estate)
Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury)
American Life – Curtis Sittenfeld (Doubleday)
The Flying Troutmans – Miriam Toews (Faber & Faber)
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree – Ann Weisgarber (Pan MacMillan)

They sound like a real mixture of books and I so want to read every single one. Is anyone planning on doing the Orange Challenge and reading the whole long list or will people be waiting until the short list is announced?

8 Comments

Filed under Beatrice Colin, Book Thoughts, Edmund White, Sebastian Barry, Stella Duffy, Tom Rob Smith

The Secret Speech – Tom Rob Smith

I actually finished this last week but it’s a book that you need to take a bit of a step away from to sort out all in your head. Partly because it’s quite complex (I admit I got a little confused once or twice) and also because there’s so much action in it you feel like you have lived it with the characters. Yes I can say that Rob Tom Smith’s The Secret Speech is just as thrilling as its predecessor Child 44, only in a completely different way. Now how do I review this without giving anything away from either of the books?

The Secret Speech is the second in what is now going to be the Leo Demidov Trilogy. The first Child 44 was all about a serial child murdered in the early 1950’s before Stalin’s regime comes to an end (that doesn’t give anything away does it). Now we meet the former MGB Agent Leo Demidov once more now as the head of his own special homicide department, the first that Russia has sanctioned. Oddly this homicide department doesn’t see much action in this book as it’s all about the time after Stalin’s rule and how Russia seems to turn on its head the police are now the criminals and that includes Leo. How will society react to the fact that all they saw Stalin implement is denounced in ‘The Secret Speech’ and will they seek revenge on their former rulers and tormentors?

Behind this is also a big family plot for Leo and his wife Raisa as they bring up two young girls they have adopted and who aren’t taking to Leo at all. How will Leo cope when one of his own daughters is used as the perfect weapon for revenge from an enemy of his past changed beyond recognition?

The Secret Speech isn’t quite the crime thriller that Child 44 was its still very good though. Instead this is a thriller of two very different plots, one is the political thriller and one is the personal family thriller and they work very well together and take Leo on quite the adventure through Siberia and Budapest. I did find some parts very confusing though partly because so much is happening very quickly and occasionally action seems to overcome explanation but this is very rare and sometimes I needed to re-read parts of the book. This is probably my own fault because in wanting to know what’s happening and finding it so addictive I was whizzing through the pages. If I had to compare them I would say Child 44 has the edge just because I love crime, however I did really enjoy the mix of personal drama and political thriller and still find the whole era in Russia’s history really interesting and cannot wait for the next one.

Oh and if you thought that the last one was gory and that this one not being about a serial killer it would be any easier you would be mistaken. There isn’t any cat killing in this one though, so cat lovers can sleep tight. My interview with Tom Rob Smith will be up the week after next (nearer the release of the book in just under three weeks) I can tell you he was quite lovely though.

3 Comments

Filed under Review, Simon & Schuster, Tom Rob Smith

Movie Potential

Oh the question from Booking Through Thursday is a really good one this week, well they are always interesting. This week it is this: What book do you think should be made into a movie? And do you have any suggestions for the producers? Or what book do you think should NEVER be made into a movie?

Part of me doesn’t want to have any of my favourite books turned into films, though some of them have, as they always get ghastly movie covers made, why do they do that with books to movie, cant they just keep the same ones? I have never seen a movie cover that I have liked. Here are some of the ones that had I not read them already would have truly put me off. Sorry just a strange issue I have there, moving swiftly on…

vs or vs
If I was too say which of all of my favourite books I would like to see in movie form it would be a huge massive production of The Woman in White (as long as Kiera Knightly doesn’t get to star in it) by Wilkie Collins, I know its been adapted by the BBC but I would love to see that on the big screen. I would say the Life of Pi but I think that is already happening. Oh I have thought of another Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White that would make a brilliant movie, so I guess that one. On the whole though I would rather my favourites were left alone in case they don’t live up to the book as I have translated it into my own head!

The most recent read that I would have made into a film would be Child 44 however that has already been optioned. I am actually interviewing the author Tom Rob Smith today so if anyone has any questions for him do let me know on here or here. It’s a fantastic book and will make an amazing movie.

3 Comments

Filed under Michel Faber, Tom Rob Smith, Wilkie Collins