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The Child Thief

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In the snow, death is not the coldest thing waiting for you...

About the Author

Dan Smith grew up following his parents across the world to Africa, Indonesia and Brazil. He has been writing short stories for as long as he can remember and has been published in the anthology MATTER 4, shortlisted for the Royal Literary Fund mentor scheme, the Northern Writers Awards, the 2010 Brit Writers Published Author of the Year award and the Authors' Club First Novel award. He lives in Newcastle with his family. Find out more at


British author Smith (Dry Season) makes his U.S. debut with this highly atmospheric thriller set during the winter of 1930 in the Soviet Union. One day, a wounded stranger pulling a sled stumbles into Vyriv, a remote Ukrainian village. Two dead children lie on the sled, their bodies mutilated in a way that suggests cannibalism. The stranger soon dies, yet during his brief stay, nine-year-old Dariya goes missing into the nearby forest, the mythical home of "Baba Yaga," an old hag who eats children. As snow falls the next morning, the girl's uncle, WWI veteran Luka Mikhailovich Sidorov, gives chase with his twin 17-year-old sons. Days later, just as the three are closing in on their quarry, government agents capture Luka, who's subsequently interrogated and tortured. He manages to escape with a few clues to Dariya's disappearance and resumes his search. From the arresting opening to the tense finale, Smith doesn't hit a false note in this captivating tale of the power of the human spirit when pushed to the brink. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Atmospheric pursuit thriller set in 1930s Ukraine in which war veteran Luka stalks his niece's psychopathic kidnapper across frozen terrain. * BIG ISSUE IN THE NORTH * Smith is a talented writer who incorporates the forbidding landscape of Ukraine as a central character in the cat-and-mouse chase ... the well-constructed plot is nicely complemented by Smith's adept turn of phrase * SUNDAY BUSINESS POST * A terrific book with an original setting ... [it] works both as a compelling thriller, in which readers are drawn into Luka's confrontation with the mysterious child thief, and as the story of one man entangled in historical events larger than his personal battle against a psychopathic murderer * BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE * The tone is dark and disturbing in this tightly written story, tension mounting until the unexpected ending. Sure to appeal to fans of David Benioff and Tom Rob Smith * THE BOOKBITCH * ... a straightforward, beautifully written thriller about surviving hardships against all odds with honor and humanity. * NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS * This is a pursuit thriller of the highest quality, reminiscent of the classic of the genre, Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male. * IRISH INDEPENDENT * 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. * SUNDAY TIMES *

In 1930, Soviet leader Stalin's cadres crushed Ukrainian villages to collectivize their farms and exile the kulaks (well-to-do peasant farmers) to Siberia, resulting in a great famine. So far the village of Vryiv has remained hidden from the authorities. But when villager Luka, a war vet and devoted family head, encounters a dying stranger pulling a sled with the butchered corpses of two children and brings him to the village, the villagers' fears turn into violence. In the midst of the chaos, Luka's niece vanishes, and Luka and his twin sons vow to save her. As a military tracker and sharpshooter, Luka has unusual skills, but his prey is wily and pitiless. Even worse misery befalls Luka when he is snared by soldiers enforcing the new farm policy. VERDICT Though in the gruesome vein of Tom Rob Smith's Child 44, Smith's (Dark Horizons) fourth adult novel laments "for the darkness that had come into this life and for the light that had gone out of it." Luka's inner dialogs show a core of moral strength and integrity that will keep readers on the edge of the chair rooting for him and his kin. Marked by clear writing and laser-portrait characterizations, the book builds a deftly-nuanced plot. The evocation of the frozen steppes will chill your beach-warmed bones.-Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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