Child 44

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the novel. For the film adaptation, see Child 44 (film).
Child 44
Child 44.jpg
1st US edition
Author Tom Rob Smith
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Thriller
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 400
ISBN 1-84737-126-4
Followed by The Secret Speech

Child 44 is a thriller novel by British writer Tom Rob Smith, and features disgraced MGB Agent Leo Demidov, who investigates a series of gruesome child murders in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union.


The novel is based on the crimes of Andrei Chikatilo, also known as the Rostov Ripper, who was convicted of and executed for 52 murders in the Soviet Union. In addition to highlighting the problem of Soviet-era criminality in a state where "there is no crime", the novel also explores the paranoia of the age, the education system, the secret police apparatus, orphanages, homosexuality in the USSR, and mental hospitals.

The book is the first part of a trilogy. The second part is called The Secret Speech and also features the character of Leo Demidov and his wife, Raisa. The third part, called Agent 6, was published by Simon and Schuster in the UK in July 2011.[1] It was published in the US in January 2012.[2]


Child 44 has been nominated for 17 international awards and was the winner of seven. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and was the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award in 2008.[3] Child 44 was on the Richard and Judy "Book of the Decade" list and won the Waverton Good Read Award in 2009.[4][5] It was also shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize for a first novel in 2008.[6] Smith was awarded the 2008 Galaxy Book Award for Best New Writer.[7]


The New York Times called it a "tightly woven", "ingeniously plotted", "high-voltage story".[8] The Sunday Telegraph praised it as a "memorable debut": "the atmosphere of paranoia and paralysing fear is brilliantly portrayed and unremittingly grim".[9] Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review, calling it "smashing"; "nerve-wracking pace and atmosphere camouflage wild coincidences".[10] In an Observer review, Peter Guttridge praised it as a "thrilling, intense piece of fiction".[11] It was also called "an adequate police procedural" by another New York Times reviewer,[12] and a review of the paperback edition in The Guardian said that "the story is exciting, but the characters and dialogue are underdeveloped, and the prose studiously bland".[13] This view was mirrored by a further review for The Guardian, by Angus Macqueen, who stated that while "this is a compelling detective story", he eventually found that "the desire for the plot to encompass every element of Soviet history eventually overrides any sense of artistic seriousness". Macqueen did state that the novel "remains a real achievement" and that it delivers "all the pleasures of a brilliant airport read".[14]

Film adaptation[edit]

Main article: Child 44 (film)

A film based on the novel was announced in 2009, with Ridley Scott attached as director.[15] Plans have now changed and it is now to be directed by Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, of Safe House fame and produced by Ridley Scott and his longtime production collaborator Michael Costigan via Scott Free Productions. English actors Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy as well as Swedish actress Noomi Rapace had been in negotiations to star[16] before they were confirmed.[17] The filming takes place in the Czech Republic, locations being in Prague, Kladno, and Ostrava.[18]


  1. ^ Rob, Tom. "Agent 6". Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  2. ^ "Child 44". Amazon. 
  3. ^ "Tom Rob Smith wins the 2008 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger". 2011-10-13. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  4. ^ "100 Books of the decade - Book Club News - Richard and Judy Book Club". 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  5. ^ "Waverton Good Read | FAQ". Retrieved 2012-02-27. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Desmond Elliott, The Desmond Elliott Prize 2009, Arlington Books, The Desmond Elliott Charitable Trust, The prize for new fiction, literary agent, publisher - Previous Winners - The 2008 Prize - The Shortlist - Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith". Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  7. ^ 2009 winners (2010-12-15). "Culture Vulture - Galaxy Book Award winners". Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  8. ^ Maslin, Janet (May 8, 2008). "Forget It, Comrade. This Is Moscow.". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Yager, Susanna (March 9, 2008). "A crime that officially doesn't exist". The Sunday Telegraph (London). 
  10. ^ Eastland, Sam. "CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith | Kirkus Book Reviews". Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  11. ^ Peter Guttridge (2 March 2008). "Interview: Tom Rob Smith". The Observer (London). Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  12. ^ Koelb, Tadzio (March 13, 2011). "Churchill, Depression and a Talking Dog". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Koelb, Tadzio (28 February 2009). "Review: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith". The Guardian (London). 
  14. ^ Angus Macqueen (2008-04-12). "Review: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  15. ^ "Child 44 Movie". 2007-05-07. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  16. ^ Kit, Borys. "Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace in Talks for 'Child 44'". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Opatrná, Anežka. "Ridley Scott dobývá Prahu!". Student Point (in Czech). Retrieved 29 August 2013. "a tak bude od 10.6. do 20.9. v Praze, Ostravě nebo v Barrandovském studiu probíhat natáčení amerického velkofilmu."