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Mystery Monday – Eye of the Red Tsar


Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland


Review by Cheryl (Spuddie)


Series: Inspector Pekkala #1 (historical mystery set in late 1920’s USSR)

It is late 1920’s in the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin is beginning his rise to power. At his behest, a prisoner sent to the forests of Siberia is freed–Pekkala, also known as The Emerald Eye, who was formerly a close aide to and spy for the Tsar Nicholas Romanov. Barely recognizable as his former self after years in the gulags and living in the forest, Pekkala is brought by a young officer to receive his instructions from (much to his surprise) his brother Anton, whom he has not seen for many years.

Stalin has charged Pekkala with discovering what really happened on the night the Romanov family was slaughtered ten years previously, and to establish at last whether the entire family died or whether there is a possibility of one or more of the children escaping. Were this the case, they would now be of age and a possible threat to Stalin’s rising star.

As Pekkala, Anton, and the young officer go to the Sverdlosk region to Ipatiev House where the executions took place, they find themselves being told much conflicting information and Pekkala must use his knowledge of investigation and human nature to glean the wheat from the chaff. Soon their lives are in obvious danger, but Pekkala is unsure who is trying to stop them from discovering the truth since there could be several parties with that objective in mind.

Very excellent reading of this first book in series (reader: Paul Micheal) and a unique main character in Inspector Pekkala. He does fit the stereotypical Scandinavian (he is Finnish by birth, from before Finland broke free from the Soviet Union) character, rather taciturn and reticent and with a gloomy outlook on life–although given his experiences, that’s certainly justified.

The story itself was interesting and the prose and dialogue flowed nicely and was well-balanced between detail and description and action. I’m not a big fan of Russian history in general, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the details about the period or the Romanovs, but looking at it as strictly fiction about some real-life people and events, I enjoyed it very much. Inspector Pekkala has a unique skillset that means he will likely have several other lively adventures in him, and I plan to be along for the ride!

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One Response to “Mystery Monday – Eye of the Red Tsar”

  1. Dorothy K. says:

    liked this book so much that I ordered the previous ones by this author. All good.

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