Thanks to my local pet shop owner I have discovered Tim Rob Smith. Having read The Farm in my summer holiday, I settled to the audiobook of Child 44 because it is read by Stephen Pacey, who brings Jussi Adler-Olsen's excellent Department Q books to vivid life. To say tim Rob Smith has done his research well is an unfair understatement. The world he has brought to life in this enthralling, gripping book is an extraordinary mixture of painstaking research and remarkable imagination. Set at the end of Stalin's rule, this reveals the bleakest, terrible lives of ordinary people who have absolutely no freedom. Add into that mixture a hero who is a blind servant of the paranoid State which does not acknowledge the existence of crime, and a series of child murders (based on real murderer of children at that time) , then anyone could be forgiven for not wanting to read this book. But I think it is brilliant - depressing and grim, but not despairing or exploitative - with an intricate plot which tightens like the coil of a snake, and psychologically fascinating characters. I need a breathing space before The Secret Speech, the next in the trilogy, but I know I won't be disappointed. Tim Rob Smith is one helluva writer.