At the start of this superior psychological thriller from Thriller Award–winner Smith (Child 44), the narrator, a Londoner known only as Daniel, receives a phone call from his father, who has retired with his wife to a farm in Sweden. The father tells Daniel that his mother is in the hospital. For months, she has been “imagining things—terrible, terrible things.” Before Daniel can fly to Sweden, his father calls again to inform him that she persuaded the doctors to authorize her discharge and has disappeared. As Daniel struggles to accept that news, his mother phones to announce that she’s flying to Heathrow and that everything his father has told him “is a lie.” When she arrives, she offers a complex tale to buttress her conviction that she has been plotted against, leaving Daniel uncertain as to whom and what to believe. Smith keeps the reader guessing up to the powerfully effective resolution that’s refreshingly devoid of contrivances. Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (June)
"From the very first page,
The Farm has all the trappings of a thriller with a deep, dark conspiracy at its heart, but Smith isn't content to stick to formulas. Through a first-person narrative that allows us to view this drama through Daniel's always engaging eyes, he weaves in and out of secrets and truths, sins and redemptions, crafting a thriller that weaves a satisfyingly juicy web of deception and is also an unpredictable page-turner. It's a rare thing to see an author so completely embody the trappings of his genre and also surprise the reader, but Smith achieves it with The Farm. Child 44 fans as well as those looking to get lost in an immersive thriller will find this a gripping read." BookPage - One of the Ten Best Mysteries and Thrillers 2014 "[A] superior psychological thriller...Smith keeps the reader guessing up to the powerfully effective resolution that's refreshingly devoid of contrivances." Publishers Weekly ( Starred Review) - One of the Top Ten Thrillers of 2014 "This is easily the novel I talked about the most this year and most adamantly pressed into other people's hands. British author Tom Rob Smith is a thriller writer, but of the literary, fiercely smart variety...Smith spins a novel of doubt and secrets set in a bleak yet beautiful Swedish landscape." Shannon Rhoades, Morning Edition - Selected as one of NPR's 2014 Great Reads "Smith does an expert job of putting readers into the narrator's uncomfortable shoes." New York Post "Tom Rob Smith breathes new life into the landscape, transcending the traditional crime fiction genre with an intricately-knitted thriller steeped in mythology...[Smith] demonstrates the same craftsmanship that saw his highly-acclaimed novel Child 44 claim the Galaxy Book Award for Best New Writer and [be] long-listed for the Manbooker Prize, among its many plaudits. Meticulously weaving together literary themes of revenge and madness...this latest offering is a tapestry of fairytales old and new; so unsettling and oppressive that it blurs the distinctions between sanity and madness, reality and fantasy, leaving the reader guessing until the bitter end." The Independent (UK) " The Farm sustains its high dramatic pitch from London to Sweden and back through an immersive and tough-to-predict series of revelations about falsehoods and fantasies." The Philadelphia Inquirer "This is a neatly plotted book full of stories within stories, which gradually unravel to confound our expectations...Smith's twisting, turning novel shows that Scandi crime also retains the ability to surprise and thrill." The Guardian (UK) - One of The Best Crime and Thrillers of 2014 "Tom Rob Smith's The Farm is an absorbing, unsettling, multilayered novel... The Farm is beautifully crafted, its effect enhanced by the author's admission that his own family faced a similar experience." The Times (UK) "'Impossible to put down' has become as overused a thing to say about books as the one saying that the people writing them should stick with what they know. In the case of The Farm, it is close to true (I read it in about three sittings and real life felt like an impertinent interruption whenever I had to put it down). Child 44 was one of those rare books that managed to thrill both the Booker judges and the Richard and Judy brigade. The Farm is, perhaps, even better. It is so good, in fact, that you will finish it quickly and then be jealous of anyone who hasn't read it yet." The Independent (UK) "A cast-iron premise and a breathtaking opening... Smith has constructed a canny and enthralling story, one that veers off in unexpected ways to complicate and deepen his carefully timed plot. Throughout, he keeps us off-kilter at every turn." The Seattle Times "Perhaps his best novel yet...Scarily claustrophobic . . . genuinely, lingeringly frightening." The Guardian - Best Thrillers of 2014 "Is there anything more innerving than the realization that you can't trust your own mother? Maybe the realization that you can't trust your father either. That's the killer premise of The Farm." New York Times Book Review "Gripping, atmospheric...This absorbing novel thrives on gradually revealing the intimate details of lives, showing how they become hidden not only from strangers, but from those closest to them. The relationship between parents and children is excellently explored as the author traces the toxic effect of lies and reveals some shocking home truths." The Observer (UK) "Chilling, hypnotic and thoroughly compelling. You will not read a better thriller this year." Mark Billingham, international bestselling author of The Dying Hours "On rare occasions, an author pulls off the high-wire act of writing a crime-oriented novel that easily transcends the genre. The Farm is one of these...[Smith's] skills are as finely honed as ever, with this tale that's both a page turner and a searing examination of the lives of our protagonist, his lover and his family. Structurally innovative and stylistically resonant, The Farm is a remarkable achievement." Jeffery Deaver, bestselling author of The Kill Room "I read this book in two greedy sittings, absolutely and joyfully clueless as to where it was leading. Tom Rob Smith has created a truly original and chilling thriller, which makes you ask yourself 'who would I believe'?" Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You
"Tom Rob Smith is a name to watch."
Agent 6 - Ten Best Crime Novels
"Tom Rob Smith is a name to watch."
Agent 6 -- Ten Best Crime Novels
"In Smith's hands [the] scenes attain a pulse of exhilaration worthy of Dickens by way of Conrad...a broadening of moral scope and thematic richness."
Dennis Lehane for The New York Times Book Review on The Secret Speech
"His mastery of suspense will make any reader's heart pound."
Financial Times on Child 44
"[Agent 6 has] an improvised feel, a terrific, freewheeling energy and pace, to which Rob Smith's non-nonsense prose is perfectly suited."
Daily Telegraph on Agent 6
"After the stunning Child 44... comes the sweeping, brilliant finale of his Cold War epic."
"Tom Rob Smith is back, from Russia without love. Reading his books is a roller coaster experience ... In the amusement park of contemporary literature, Smith's attractions are among the most exciting ones."
Corriere della Sera on Agent 6
"The phrase 'master storyteller' simply cannot do him justice...The curtain may have fallen on this particular dark tale, but it has been well and truly raised on a new talent who looks set to be entertaining and moving us for many decades to come."
"Superb ... action-packed, immaculately researched ... pungent and powerful."
"An intricate game, a history lesson, philosophy in action."
"With Agent 6, Smith has created an epic finale...Smith has a gift for sharply-etched characterization...A twisty thriller in a class with le Carré, Agent 6 is a satisfying culmination to the trilogy."
Suspense Magazine on Agent 6
"The best thrillers combine narrative tension, first-rate plotting and enough psychological insight to satisfy the human hunger for identification...Smith can do all this."
"Agent 6 has all the elements that made the first two books in the series hits: relentless action, a flawed but fascinating protagonist and a clear-eyed view of the absolute brutality of an authoritarian government."
Dallas Morning News on Agent 6
"When a trilogy is as unpredictable and riveting as Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 series, set as it is both in the harsh Russian landscape and the dense thicket of the human soul, expectations quickly evaporate in a page-turning frenzy....Smith, a young British screenwriter turned best-selling novelist, has created in Leo Demidov a Kafkaesque modern hero for our times, a good man trapped in a corrupt, manipulative system, forced to choose between loyalties to family, country and conscience. With a cinematographer's eye for settings and historical detail, Smith uses Leo's journey to examine larger issues, especially the political, social and religious systems that both unite and divide us."
"This concluding installment [is] another first-class, must-read crime novel...In [the] first two volumes, Smith brilliantly illuminated the horrors of Stalin's Russia and the Gulag. He also gave readers Leo Demidov, duty-bound, introspective, enduring, and ultimately a figure both tragic and heroic."
Booklist on Agent 6 (starred review)
"One of the rare pleasures of the book-reviewing trade is first hearing all sorts of advance hype about a novel and then finding out that every word was true."
Chicago Tribune on Child 44
"Sensational...crackling...Smith's prose is propulsive...his real genius is his careful potting...an elaborate mystery."
Entertainment Weekly on Child 44
"Chilling, hypnotic and thoroughly compelling. You will not read a better thriller this year."
"I read this book in two greedy sittings, absolutely and joyfully clueless as to where it was leading. Tom Rob Smith has created a truly original and chilling thriller, which makes you ask yourself 'who would
"On rare occasions, an author pulls off the high-wire act of writing a crime-oriented novel that easily transcends the genre.
The Farm is one of these...[Smith's] skills are as finely honed as ever, with this tale that's both a page turner and a searing examination of the lives of our protagonist, his lover and his family. Structurally innovative and stylistically resonant, The Farm is a remarkable achievement."
"A mind-blowing, addictive plot that will have you on the edge of your seat, tearing through the pages as the truth - involving a missing teenage girl, Swedish folklore and some sinister neighbors - slowly leaks out."
"A pacey page-turner with an ending you'll be dying to talk about."
Good Housekeeping (UK) - Thriller of the Month
"This is a neatly plotted book full of stories within stories, which gradually unravel to confound our expectations...Smith's twisting, turning novel shows that Scandi crime also retains the ability to surprise and thrill."
"Tom Rob Smith breathes new life into the landscape, transcending the traditional crime fiction genre with an intricately-knitted thriller steeped in mythology...[Smith] demonstrates the same craftsmanship that saw his highly-acclaimed novel
Child 44 claim the Galaxy Book Award for Best New Writer and long-listed for the Manbooker Prize, among its many plaudits. Meticulously weaving together literary themes of revenge and madness...this latest offering is a tapestry of fairytales old and new; so unsettling and oppressive that it blurs the distinctions between sanity and madness, reality and fantasy, leaving the reader guessing until the bitter end."
The author's first stand-alone novel after his wildly successful Soviet-era trilogy (Child 44; The Secret Speech; Agent 6) hits the ground running. While living in the London flat of his partner, Daniel receives an urgent phone call from his father in Sweden. His mother, Tilde, has been committed to an asylum, believing she is the target of a local conspiracy. No sooner does Daniel get to the airport than his phone rings again: "Everything that man has told you is a lie," Tilde says. "I'm about to board a flight to London." A shocked Daniel spends the rest of the novel listening, as his paranoid mother methodically unspools a story about an elaborate plot set in the Swedish wilderness, which includes an officious neighbor, a missing girl, and a buried secret from Tilde's past. Daniel, like us, can barely believe what he's hearing, but soon gets wrapped up in the mystery himself. VERDICT The unreliability of Tilde's narration—is she telling the truth about this sinister scheme or is she crazy?—provides the novel with a constant tension, but her deliberate and frustrating withholding of information also keeps it from truly taking off. Still, this is a worthy addition to the growing canon of Scandinavian crime thrillers that also includes Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbø. [Smith's mother is Swedish.—Ed.; See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14.]—Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ
Mama's gone crazy, daddy's gone crazy, and Smith (Child 44, 2008) has skipped over from Stalin's Russia to the idyllic Swedish countryside for his latest thriller.The change of scene puts Smith squarely atop territory claimed by Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and other masters of Scandinavian mayhem. Smith, who has family ties to Sweden, works a customarily Nordic twist, too, by setting family members at one another's throats—and quite unnicely, too. A frantic email ("Nothing else, just my name, an exclamation mark") alerts Daniel to the fact that something is rotten across the North Sea, where Mum has been parked in a hospital while Dad mutters worriedly about her declining mental faculties. Ah, but Mum, who turns up in London, having fled, may not be loony at all. Indeed, she has a bag full of notes about Dad's late-blooming nefariousness: "In this satchel," she intones, "is some of the evidence I've collected over the summer." Evidence of what? Well, out among the cornflowers and hollyhocks, a corpse, maybe more than one, might just lie, for Dad has a kinky, hidden side. Meanwhile, Mum is old-school enough to believe that the fairy-tale world of trolls and goblins lies on the edge of the forest, though her hypotheses about the teenage girl who's gone missing from their bucolic farm town have an eminently practical side. Smith does creepy very well, setting scenes that slowly build in intensity, and he keeps readers guessing about who can and cannot be trusted. He also has a knack for finding the ominous in the picturesque, so a candlelight procession of "women dressed in bridal white" turns into a backdrop for a discovery that Daniel isn't quite prepared to make. And, it being Sweden, even bad guys and red herrings are neat, orderly and eminently polite: "It wasn't enough for Håkan to attack me," notes Daniel. "He wanted my permission to do so."They're resourcefully lethal as well. A satisfying mystery on ground that, though familiar, manages to yield surprises in Smith's skillful telling.