I found myself running home this afternoon and packing my bag to get on a plane for a last minute business trip.  My friend lent me his book Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, which I really didn't know anything about before I cracked it open.  I was engrossed by the time I boarded the plane and read the entire flight.


The novel is a murder mystery but the plot set up does not give the reader that impression.  The main character, Leo, is easily disliked from the beginning of the novel.  He is a member of the USSR's security force, loyally and blindly investigating "enemies of the state" or those suspected of not being loyal to the Soviet Union.  These investigations lead him on an envious climb in the government and jealousy of his position ultimately results in him and his wife being accused of being spies.  Meanwhile, young children are found naked and murdered by the train tracks in different cities of the Soviet Union.  As "murder" is not allowed in the Stalinist regime, these cases are never connected together until Leo stumbles upon them.  The author brings the story full circle in a surprisingly satisfying way, with all the loose ends being wrapped up cleanly at the end.  The serial killer is a creepy character, and without giving it away, Smith is able to subtly and effectively craft a subplot around that individual as well. 

This is one of the best mysteries that I have read in awhile and is a great summer beach read.