Threaten To Undo Us by Rose Seiler Scott

Threaten To Undo Us
by
Rose Seiler Scott

Rating:

Threaten To Undo Us is the suspenseful story of a German family living in Poland during and after World War II. In this excellent book, Liesel and Ernst Hoffmann are raising four young children in a Polish village. But Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 has put citizens with German backgrounds in a dangerous situation and alliances are tested. Many of the men join the German forces, but others, like Liesel and Ernst, just want to live their lives in peace. Ernst is forced to enlist in the German army, however, and Liesel is left alone to manage. As Hitler’s regime collapses, Soviet forces enter with equal hostility and Liesel must do her best to keep her family safe, and together.

Threaten To Undo Us focuses on the innocent German families in this region who are caught in an impossible conflict and tells how they are forced to flee their homes. Many families are separated and sent to Soviet labor camps, where they face harsh winters, disease and starvation. They must rely on faith and resolve to endure the brutal conditions, with little hope of being saved.

Although there are many books of historical fiction set during World War II, I enjoyed this one because of its different angle. I especially liked seeing Liesel’s character develop and strengthen as she struggles to keep her family together. And while the story moves at an exciting pace, the reader can still feel how its characters must endure long periods of separation and suffering. But this is not just an action novel. Scott parallels the larger tragedies with Liesel’s family life and struggles, adding dimension to the story and her characters. She also includes the question of faith as characters depend on an inner strength to survive. Its title comes from the Lutheran hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” a theme that is frequently referred to as Liesel faces adversity.

I read this on my Kindle, and, although there were a few issues with formatting, its presentation was otherwise flawless and a great entertaining read!

I received a copy of Threaten To Undo Us in exchange for an honest review.

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Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44

Child 44
by
Tom Rob Smith

Rating:

How do you fix the mistakes in your life? When you are Leo Demidov, a disgraced member of the Soviet MGB and you are responsible for capturing, sentencing and killing untold numbers of regular people, people who are just trying to survive under Joseph Stalin’s oppressive regime, the question is hard to answer. Leo’s epiphany comes late. His wife, Raisa already hates him. He’s been demoted to the militia, a low-level assignment. He’s lost his privileges and has more than a few enemies. Leo and Raisa have almost nothing. They can only survive by staying together.

Someone is murdering young children, leaving their bodies to be discovered. The government claims to solve the murders as individual cases, but Leo sees a pattern and he knows someone is still out there, planning another attack.

That’s the premise of Child 44, the first book of Tom Rob Smith’s thriller trilogy. It’s also a soon-to-be-released film, due out in April 2015. The storyline is based on the murders of Andrei Chikatilo, who was convicted of fifty-two murders of women and children in the Soviet Union.

I enjoyed reading this fast-paced book. Smith does a nice job developing a suspenseful plot and good characters with uncertain alliances and motives. Survival is the word in Child 44. It dominates the thinking of all the characters, the ones with power and the ones who have nothing.

Smith tells a story about the serious business of tracking down a monster, but this is not a heavy book with complex characters. Despite Leo’s moral dilemma, it’s a quick, plot-driven story and an entertaining read.

I liked the dynamic between Leo and Raisa, who in some ways becomes the dominant character. She’s a strong force and reminds me just a little bit of Lisbeth Salander, who is the ultimate in female strength in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson.

Smith’s writing style is interesting. He writes in simple sentences, with an overlapping repetition of facts, which drives home his point about the desperate conditions in the Soviet Union under Stalin. The one thing I do not understand about his writing is his overuse of “would’ve,” “should’ve,” “could’ve,” and “might’ve.” They’re everywhere and someone should’ve told him to cut back! Maybe he is using these contractions to establish a trademark style as a suspense novelist. To me, it seems contrived and takes away from the polish of the rest of the book.

Smith ties the story together neatly, with a slightly open-ended ending, preparing you for the next book, The Secret Speech. Some readers may not like the way it all works out, but I think that’s an accepted part of the genre.

So all-in-all an enjoyable and quick read. I’m looking forward to the movie!

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What’s up next? Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44

I just started reading Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith. It’s a crime thriller that takes place in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union and it’s the first book of his trilogy. Smith based Child 44 on the crimes of Andrei Chikatilo, who was convicted of fifty-two murders of women and children in the Soviet Union and was executed in 1994. The story features a disgraced MGB agent, Leo Demidov, who is investigating a series of child murders. The second and third books are The Secret Speech and Agent 6.

Tom Rob Smith www.curtisbrown.co.uk
Tom Rob Smith http://www.curtisbrown.co.uk

Tom Rob Smith is an English writer and Child 44 is his first book. In addition to numerous awards and nominations, Child 44 received the Crime Writers Association’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award in 2008 for the best thriller of the year. Smith’s fourth book, The Farm, was published in 2014.

Child 44 has been made into a movie, due to be released in April 2015. It’s directed by Daniel Espinosa and its screenplay was written by Richard Price. The movie stars Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Naomi Rapace.

I don’t usually read thrillers, but I’m trying to break out into new genres. Once I get started on a trilogy, I have to keep going. If I can handle Child 44, I’ll read the next two!

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