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The Child Thief: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Dan Smith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the tradition of City of Thieves and Child 44, a troubled First World War veteran races across the frozen steppe of 1930s Ukraine to save a child from a shadowy killer with unthinkable plans

Luka is a war veteran who now wants only to have a quiet life with his family. His village has, so far, remained hidden from the advancing Soviet brutality. But everything changes the day the stranger arrives, pulling a sled bearing a terrible cargo. When the villagers’ fear turns deadly, they think they have saved themselves. But their anger has cursed them: in the chaos, a little girl has vanished. Luka is the only man with the skills to find out who could have stolen a child in these frozen lands—and besides, the missing girl is best friend to Luka’s daughter. He swears he will find her. Together with his sons, Luka sets out in pursuit across lands ravaged by war and gripped by treachery. Soon they realize that the man they are tracking is no ordinary criminal, but a skillful hunter with the child as the bait in his twisted game. It will take all of Luka’s strength to battle the harshest of conditions, and all of his wit to stay a step ahead of Soviet authorities. And though his toughest enemy is the man he tracks, his strongest bond is a promise to his family back home.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Luka is a soldier turned reluctant farmer, living a hand-to-mouth existence in a small Soviet village with his wife and children. While hunting, he finds a strange, sick man pulling a sled holding the bodies of two young children. Everyone in this small village lives in fear of the Communists taking their homes and putting them on work farms, so a stranger in their midst causes a panic. The townspeople turn on Luka and hang the unconscious man, scaring Luka’s young niece and prompting her to flee. Or was she abducted? Luka sets off through the frozen wasteland with his twin teenage sons and the girl’s father to find the girl and the man who took her. The terrain is barely passable and the weather is brutal, but Luka soldiers on, killing when he has to but determined to bring the girl home. The tone in this tightly written story is dark and disturbing, with tension mounting steadily until the unexpected ending. Sure to appeal to fans of David Benioff and Tom Rob Smith. --Stacy Alesi


Past praise for Dan Smith:
“Haunting stuff from a new writer to watch.” —The Mail on Sunday

“Dangerous and compelling—a powerful thriller with a dark heart. Does for Brazil what The Beach did for Thailand.” —Raymond Khoury

“A better class of thriller.” —The Independent on Sunday

“Smith succeeds in creating a narrative that is both an engrossing thriller and the story of a man struggling in the grip of historical events that he only partially understands.” —The Sunday Times (London)

Product Details

  • File Size: 605 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (June 4, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BNPI7G0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,556 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steadfast Hero January 26, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
If you want to capture someone's attention, don't shout - whisper. In the midst of so many thrillers that shout - with fast action, chases, violence and gore - The Child Thief is all the more riveting because it is so quiet. Even Bronson Pinchot's narration is hushed, compelling you to hang onto every word. The search for the kidnapper is quiet in a landscape muffled with deep snow that silences footsteps, but captures footprints, and the chase is a dangerous chess game of "come and get me if you dare".

While the landscape is vast, the viewpoint is small and detailed, as if even a person's soul can be seen through the sniper's scope on Luka's rifle. A study of good and evil and of individuals struggling to save what is human in themselves through the search to save someone else. To me Luka is heroic in the best sense - someone who stays true to himself and his family in the face of mob madness, danger from the Red Army, and unthinkable evil from the child thief. One of the strongest characters I have read in a very long time.

(This says Kindle Edition, but I actually listened to the Audible version. Did not see where to change that designation. For Audible members - the narration is top notch and adds much to the atmosphere.)
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely chilling thriller August 9, 2013
It is 1930 and the remote village of Vyriv waits in tense fear for the arrival of the Red Army. But it isn't one of Stalin's soldiers who breaks apart their town. It's a sick and dying man trudging through the snow. Luka and his son find the man, barely able to stand, dragging a leaden down sled. Upon examination, Luka discovers the man has been dragging the bodies of two children, one of which shows signs of unthinkable mutilation. The man is in such bad shape that there's no way for him to tell his own tale or come to his own defense so Luka, a parent and a former soldier, sets aside his suspicions for the meantime and takes the man into his own home to recover. The people of the village are not so willing to wait. When they get word of the man and the dead children, they demand immediate justice. In the wake of their actions it is discovered that one of their own has disappeared. For Luka and the people of Vyriv, the nightmare has just begun.

There's a lot going on in THE CHILD THIEF. First and foremost is the cat and mouse game between the child thief and Luka. Then you have the town's fear of the Red Army who have been seeking out small villages like theirs and enacting punishment - whether deserved or not - for crimes against the country (crimes like providing food and shelter for your family before the collective). The setting is harsh both in terms of time and locale, which adds immensely to the tension of THE CHILD THIEF.

If you enjoy fast-paced and well-plotted thrillers (historical or not), I highly recommend adding Dan Smith to your to try lists.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The child thief August 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Awesome book!! A true cat and mouse thriller . I recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers. Not your usual james Patterson junk. Set in the Ukraine during the civil wars. This gives the book a totally different genre than your usual thriller. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast Start, Slow Finish August 13, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Similarly to a few other reviews I have read, I agree this book starts with exceptional potential. The overall concept is actually quite stunning. The latter portions of the book dissappoint however. Overall worth the time, just wish the ending was on par with the beginning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely thrilling! July 28, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Absolutely thrilling book from the beginning to finish. I enjoyed the writer’s style and also the story telling. It was hard to put that book down. I have seen the book in the library window one day and decided to buy it on Kindle. It took me some time to get to reading this book as I had other books to read but man oh man, what a ride it is!
I will definitely try other books by this author and a note to author from me is to not be discouraged by mediocre reviews, your writing is really great and I challenge the reviewers who left reviews like this to try to write something a bit good like this themselves one day. I say great job and keep these books coming. I am one of your fans now.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read November 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I cannot believe I haven't reviewed this yet. I've raved about this book to anyone who'll stand still and many who won't. It opens as the main character, Luka, and his sons are out hunting. They see a speck on the horizon that turns out to be a man pulling a sled. But this is the 1930's in the Ukraine and strangers in these parts are not welcome. They bring terror as the communist dispatch raiding parties that send it's citizens to the labour camps, or strip the villages bare, leaving the people to starve. So when the stanger is brought to Luka's home, the townspeople are terrified. The man is hanged and the townsfolk walk away thinking this episode is over. It's not. A child goes missing and so begins a game of cat and mouse as the main character and his sons track him through the frozen winter landscape.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Beautifully paced, fantastic narrative, and full of suspense, I was bereft when I finished it. But there's hope. He's written a sequel and I can't wait for it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Baba Yaga (Audible) October 2, 2013
By Susan
This is out of my usual genre, I normally don't choose anything that is about war or holocaust. There were parts that surrounded the Russian Purge of the 1930's that were disturbing but helped to set the scene surrounding the story. I connected and cared about the characters from the very beginning, and the hunt for "The Child Thief" was interesting and exciting. The mystery behind the missing child, the tempered bonding between father and sons, and the rigorous tracking, made this listen fascinating and worth the credit. Dan Smith's illustration of the Ukrainian tundra was elegant. The images he brought to mind were beautiful but at the same time harsh and unforgiving.

Bronson Pinchot's narration was genius as usual, each voice was distinct and the characters personalities were brought to the forefront. All in all this was a good listen and memorable in its uniqueness.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Exciting and well written!!
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The very end of the book was pretty hopeful considering how dark the...
A dark, dark book, but an interesting read. I thought the identity of the villain was telegraphed a bit earlier than it should have been, but I was still invested in seeing how... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Rebecca Widder
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT READ
I could not put it down. k I still think about the characters.
Published 7 days ago by carolyn e. bartell
5.0 out of 5 stars A child is taken in 1930's Ukraine
This was a very interesting book. It's a harsh story occurring during a harsh time in history in a harsh climate. In spite of, or maybe due to, these things, it was riveting. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Mystery Thriller!
This novel kept me reading late into the night, it was really hard to put down. The location, time period, climate, and politics really add to the suspense, despair, and eeriness... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michelle McCoy
5.0 out of 5 stars totally engaging!
Wow! This was a really interesting read, completely different from what I usually read. I'm so glad I took the time to stick with it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by janet s
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
great book
Published 2 months ago by bridget paquette
3.0 out of 5 stars while this is not a bad read, it is rather long and somewhat tedious...
while this is not a bad read, it is rather long and somewhat tedious and repetitive. It does have a very dull extremely fast ending which was unsatisfactory to me.
Published 2 months ago by larry goren
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense, good read.
I found the main character to be intriguing. Not an educated man but very deep. He is constantly faced with decisions without a clear "right" answer. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sally J Irrgang
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty intense book
This was an exciting book that kept you reading more. Kind of demented on what sick people will do. Would recommend it for an intense read
Published 2 months ago by kameron johnson
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More About the Author

Growing up, Dan Smith led three lives. In one he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the padi fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of his own, making up stories . . . Which is where some people say he still lives most of the time.

Dan has lived in many places that inspire his writing - including Sierra Leone, Sumatra, northern and central Brazil. He's even lived in Spain and in the Soviet Union, but he's now settled in Newcastle with his wife and two young children to keep him on his toes. And, boy, do they keep him on his toes!

Past jobs have varied from dishwasher extraordinaire (or, perhaps, just ordinaire), social security fraud (detecting it, not committing it), to working on giant-sized Christmas decorations, and a fistful of mundane office jobs, but throughout all of those things, he's always kept writing.

Dan writes for both children and adults.

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