Tom Rob Smith‘s Child 44 Trilogy — Child 44, The Secret Speech, and Agent 6 –– cast a brilliant spotlight on life in the USSR under Stalin, Khruschchev, and Brezhnev. My review of Agent 6 gave all three books high marks. Which will explain why I was so deeply disappointed in Smith’s latest work, The Farm.

In a word, The Farm was a drag. Literally. Marketed as a “psychological thriller,” the book was anything but thrilling. The text consists of one long, not to say tedious, paranoid rant by the narrator’s “Mum,” a Swedish-English woman who had migrated to Great Britain five decades earlier. Under murky and troubling circumstances, she returns to visit her son, Daniel, launching into her diatribe about a vast conspiracy in Sweden. Finally, nearly at the end of the book, Daniel flies to Sweden to learn the truth underlying his mother’s allegations. What he learns is, of course, surprising. Big deal. By that point, I was nearly asleep.

I hope Tom Rob Smith returns to historical fiction and leaves behind the autobiographical references. (He is the son of a Swedish woman and an English father and grew up in London.)

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith ★★☆☆☆

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