A few posts back I mentioned that I was reading, or at least, trying to read, Mr. Tom Rob Smith's book Child 44. It was a long, hard slog with frequent pauses for me to swallow down the nausea brought on by Mr. Smith's all too accurate depiction of life in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. The central love story intrigued me because it featured a young married couple made up of a man who was so indoctrinated with the Party line that he could see no further than the nearest Party edict, and a woman who despised him and herself for a life of deliberate deception necessitated by the sheer struggle to survive under the regime. Very gradually they change under the pressure of events and come to recognise each other's virtues. The plot line was suitably enigmatic and interesting but gradually, as the story turned into more of an 'actioneer', it began to verge into the preposterous. At the time I bought the book I also bought a later one of his, again set in the Russia of the early '50s, but the fact is that I simply cannot face another descent into the totalitarian hell of Stalin's Russia. The problem is that Mr. Smith depicts it all with too much verisimilitude and, wimp that I am, I simply cannot face a second dose of it.