This book by Tom Rob Smith is the first in a trilogy that revolves around the Soviet Union. This particular novel focuses on the investigation of a child serial killer with an excess of fifty confirmed victims. It touches on several famous “stalin-isms,” such as the infamous statement “there is no crime in paradise.” Murder, especially of a repetitive nature, was considered to be a capitalist crime, a consequence of competition and dogma. The book is highly interesting in that it follows the investigation from start to finish, unpacking the deeper issues surrounding the investigation. What would it mean to claim you’re investigating a murder in a state where even to talk of such crimes as a possibility was itself a crime?
So often, truth is stranger than fiction. This is no different. The book is loosely based off of the true events surrounding Andrei Chikatilo. This was not just a murderer, but a serial murderer who raped and often cannibalized his victims. His story is quite dark, and there’s no reason to darken counsel with it here. Just know that in this region in such a pivotal time period, there was indeed atrocious crimes being committed that shook the system to its core. Chikatilo was executed in 1994.
This ties into our region in the discussion of power. Power, when abused, can become ugly, as in the case of such horrendous crimes. Power can also be blinding. It was power that shut down early investigations of this terror, early investigations that could by all means have saved many. It was power wanted to hide the most powerful thing, truth. Because the truth has the propensity to invariably cripple all illegitimate power sources around it. This is also a discussion of culture. Such wrongs, wrongs that can be so universally agreed upon, change a place. This wrongs that dwelt in darkness were brought to the light, and they changed the environment. Lastly, this relates to empire. This murders took place all around the soviet union, and Chikatilo himself was originally from Ukraine. No ladies and gentlemen, the Soviet Union is NOT Russia.
To study is to embrace all aspects, and no nation is perfect. Take this time to learn from this example; embrace truth, for it’s the truth that sets you free.