Are there still Komunalkas in Ukraine

Reviews to
Child 44

“Kind 44” is a thriller set against the Stalinist social background of the Soviet Union of the 1950s, in the backdrop of which the acts of a serial killer are integrated. The author's inspiration for this was the deeds of Andrei Tschikatilo, whose series of murders of children, adolescents and young adults actually took place in the years 1978-1990. I found the overall concept of the book about “Jäger als Gejagtem” or “Krimi im Krimi” interesting and appealing. Linguistically, the work is on a very simple level, but is consistently exciting and reads well. But it is definitely not suitable for the faint of heart like "I really enjoy reading thrillers, but it always makes me feel so sick!" There is a lot of raw, excessive violence, a lot of blood, a lot of disgust in very striking form, not only but also in connection with children. I always think it's good when a book inspires me to deal with a topic independently, which is what happened here in the first chapter. The plot of this chapter takes place in the winter of 1933 in the Ukraine and describes how people starve to death and two emaciated children hunt for what is probably the last, equally emaciated cat in the village in order to get their hands on something to eat. As an aside, it is mentioned that cannibalism was not uncommon among the population, which prompted me to google and ultimately led to the Holodomor, the extent and political context of which I was not yet aware of. This is something completely different from the “Ukrainian famines in the thirties”, which I still vaguely remembered. A broad field, which will certainly keep me busy. It continues then in the 50s. Before the hero "Leo" (whose name I find a bit unfortunate choice, here "Lew" would have been more appropriate as the Russian form of Leo), at the beginning of the novel, government servant loyal to the regime, can become a better man chasing serial killer, he needs a purification. This is what the first third of the book deals with. First, Stalin's dictatorial regime of terror is outlined in detail, in which Leo is involved, but too exaggerated and too one-sided for my purposes. A courageous, but for me not completely successful approach by the author. A society consisting only of negative clichés imposes itself on the reader, in which each individual “bought” his or her own survival by denouncing his / her neighbor (neighbor, colleague, wife, parents); Every human relationship network is permeated exclusively by distrust, hatred and authoritarian thinking. The - according to the state definition of the "non-existent crime in socialism" - officially non-existent crimes were blamed on the drunkards, whores and vagabonds loitering on every corner of the street or field, who were then executed quickly in the torture cellars of the state authority were. All of this was undeniably part of Stalinism: but only part. Other social facets are completely absent. After the murder of the proven innocent Brodsky by Leo's employer, the secret service, a rethinking process begins with Leo. When he refuses to denounce his own wife Raisa (although he doesn't actually trust her himself) he is demoted and transferred. In the new domicile, he is accidentally confronted with the file of a case that resembles a known one (blurb!) And he begins to establish parallels and to determine on his own. He suspects what shouldn't be, but obviously is so: a serial offender. From then on, a further arc of tension is drawn to the end and thus also to the introductory chapter from the thirties. Many details are unsatisfactory for me. Consistently following the logic of the “introductory part”, a high-ranking secret service official and his relatives (Raisa was suspected of being a spy - that was high treason, which was punishable by death) threatened to be liquidated instead of being transferred. In addition, the further persecution of Leo by the figure Wassilij - a colleague competing in office who initiated the Raisa denunciation - is not at all understandable. With the transfer of Leo and his own rise in the hierarchy of the authority, Wassilij's personal hatred of Leo should actually have been satisfied. Instead, he continues to chase Leo until the book's showdown. The behavior of fellow prisoners in the deportation scene on the train to the Gulag is just as incomprehensible: consequently, there shouldn't be a silent crowd that would support Leo's and Raisa's escape. By not denouncing Leo and Raisa, these people were threatened with death after they had fled, so why should they have remained silent? There are several scenes of this kind, and many details don't really mesh well with one another. The development of the relationship between Leo and Raisa, who are married but have no basis of trust or any loving attachment, is also part of the plot. After their exile, they meet at eye level for the first time and thus get the chance to work on their relationship. This process is directed too much inwards for me, you experience the thoughts and feelings of both independently of each other, but there is hardly any real talk. The suddenly existing bond, Raisa's unconditional support for Leo in his endeavors to find the murderer, seem somewhat shallow and implausible. I would give “Child 44” an average, good 3 stars, but I would add one because the book really inspired me to deal with historical facts from the Stalin era and especially the Holodomor. There is a reading recommendation for people for whom the tension is more important than the correctly researched framework in which it is integrated and for readers who do not mind minor breaks in logic. Thriller tension is definitely there, I also read this book almost without a break on a day off.