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Friends, Lies and Alibis


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About the Author

Debby Holt is the mother of five grown-up children, and lives with her husband in Bath. She has had over fifty short stories published in women's magazines. Visit


The main characters introduced in Smith's debut, Child 44, continue their ferocious saga to find love and consolation against a backdrop of the totalitarian Soviet state. In 1956, copies of Khrushchev's anti-Stalin speech are delivered to officials responsible for the purges and repressions, thus releasing a new round of murders and suicides. At the same time, a second plot twines with the first as ex-lovers from Child 44 grapple in a macabre contest of vengeance and hate. Smith has proven his brutal touch when describing human conflict. With this thriller, he offers a fierce account of fighting onboard a storm-wracked prison ship on the Sea of Okhotsk-a hair-raising scene, alone worth the cost of the book. For all popular collections; be ready for short-term demand owing to heavy promotion. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/09.]-Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Set in 1956, bestseller Smith's edgy second thriller to feature Leo Demidov (after Child 44) depicts the paranoia and instability of the Soviet Union after the newly installed Khrushchev regime leaks a "secret speech" laying out Stalin's brutal abuses. Now working as a homicide detective, Leo has long since repudiated his days as an MGB officer, but his former colleagues, fearful of reprisals from their victims, have begun taking their own lives. Leo himself becomes the target of Fraera, the wife of a priest he imprisoned. Now the leader of a violent criminal gang, Fraera kidnaps Leo's daughter, Zoya, and threatens to kill Zoya if Leo doesn't liberate her husband from his gulag prison. Shifting from Moscow to Siberia and to a Hungary convulsed by revolution, this fast-paced novel is packed with too many incidents for Smith to dwell on any in great depth. Though its drama often lacks emotional resonance, this story paints a memorable portrait of post-Stalinist Russia at its dawn. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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