Mrs. K edited the summary of Child 44 Tuesday, April 17, 2012.
The book opens with two brothers hunting a cat to use for food. The younger brother is clumsy, nearsighted, and idolizes his older brother. They catch the cat and are gathering wood to cover the cat on the way home. Suddenly, a man hits the older brother on the head and the younger brother returns to his mother without the cat and without his brother, Pavel.
Leo Demidov works for the Soviet government. He becomes disillusioned when he is responsible for the arrest of an innocent man. Vasili, a co-worker, hates Leo and plots his downfall. With a demotion, Leo and his wife move and he becomes embroiled a series of murders that he is intent on solving. Someone, and Leo thinks it is one man, is killing children, stuffing their mouths with bark and cutting out their stomachs. Leo, with the help of his wife and other citizens, tracks the person he believes is a serial killer. The surprise is Leo's connection to the killer and what happens to Leo, his wife, Vasili, and the killer.
Leo remembers his childhood. The parents of a child who was starving planned to kill him to feed to their son. By the time they arrive home with the two boys, their son was dead. They raised Leo as their own son. Only rarely does he even remember that his name was Pavel.
When he tracks the person who had been killing children, he finds his brother. The younger brother has been killing to get the attention of his older brother. He never believed he was dead and was angry and bitter that his Pavel had never looked for him. Pavel, or Leo realizes his brother has killed so many children that he won't stop.
Vasili finds Leo and plans to arrest him and have Leo and his wife killed. Leo's brother kills Vasili and Leo, in turn, kills his brother.
Leo and his wife return to Moscow where Leo requests a job with the police. He wants to be able to solve murders and with the right spin to satisfy the government that the job is needed to help the country, he and his wife are ready to start a new life.