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Eye of the Red Tsar (Inspector Pekkala) Paperback – 24 Jun 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (24 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571245358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571245352
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A triumph! With a canny eye for detail, Eastland re-creates the tragedy of the Romanov dynasty in this intelligent and relentless thriller."--David Hewson

Book Description

Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland is the first in a gripping new series of detective novels set at the birth of Stalin's Russia.

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4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
A few chapters into 'The Eye of The Red Tsar', I thought I had found a new crime masterpiece. Its premise was sound, and the writing effortless to read. As the novel continued however, cracks began to appear; the novel was no longer flawless. Whilst still a pleasure to read, the plot became farcical, and serious questions arose about the validity of both the setting and the central protagonist.

Inspector Pekkala was the Tsar's finest policeman. A man with a flawless memory and an attention-to-detail that was second to none. The Tsar's right hand man, he had executive powers to arrest anybody he wanted, including the royal family. Conveniently, after the fall of Tsar and the formation of the Soviet Union, Pekkala was not executed, but kept in isolation in Siberia. Now, Stalin has a need for him. Pekkala is recalled from exile to discover the truth of The Romanovs' the final moments. The Eye of the Tsar must investigate his own master's death.

From start to finish this is a very readable novel, but ultimately, as a whole, it lacks substance. Much is made of Pekkala's infallibility, but in order for dramatic tension to be created, the master of memory does the equivalent of forgetting his own mother's name. (I don't want to give away, what he actually fails to notice, lest it spoil the book.) Then there is the whole question of his acceptance of Stalin's orders, and the assurances that any surviving Romanovs will not be executed. He just accepts his persecutors' word for it; such a naïvety from a master detective is nonsensical.

Generally, the sense of paranoia that one associates with Stalin's reign of terror, is absent from this book. Despite the novel's title, the presence of the 'Red Tsar' is barely felt.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By George Rodger on 1 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
The good things for this first outing of a promising new detective series are : an interesting set-up - the Tsar's former special detective is released from the gulag by Stalin to find out who really killed the royal family, and where the Tsar hid his treasure - and the interesting setting of Stalin's Russia, of course; the well fleshed-out persona of the detective, Pekkala, and the other characters, and the general high standard of the writing.

However, some things disappoint : the identity of the killer is obvious early on, as is the location of the Tsar's 'treasure map'; the way the treasure has been hidden uses an element of the Romanovs' terrible fate that is fairly common knowledge now, and Pekkala's attitude towards Stalin in the end scene is frankly incredible.

Also, several of the main characters have been given names that have great resonance in this period - Kirov, Kropotkin, Kolchak, Mayakovsky etc. Why? Why not use nondescript names? You wouldn't expect to read a crime novel set in Nazi Germany, with a group of characters who happen to be called Rommel, Bormann, Doenitz etc. And despite a good sense of the period, there are some basic errors that could have easily been avoided - the 'Emka' car didn't exist in 1929, the Tokarev wasn't general issue then either, the Nagant's special cartridge is mentioned, but not the more significant cylinder to barrel connection vis-a-vis gas sealing, an automatic is called a revolver, and the author confuses the term 'White Army' with the Czech Legion.

The above quibbles are minor, but without wishing to give anything away, there's an incident where Pekkala fails to recognize someone that is simply unbelievable.

Having said all that, there is a lot to recommend in this book, and I would be interested to try the next instalment in the series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Raven TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whilst lacking in the gripping tension of say Tom Rob Smith's 'Child 44' I was nevertheless quite intrigued by this. The whole backdrop of Stalinist Russia and the inherent climate of fear and suspicion was vividly brought to life and add to that the mystery surrounding the murders of the Romanovs this was a tasty little opener to a new series. I look forward to the next one in 2011.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Hugh Glen on 14 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
My wife saw this on the quick choice shelf at Pimlico library and it was also a book I had read about, can't remember where. I read it and I think it could quite easily be turned into a TV series or a film it's that good especially when you find that Sam Eastland is a British writer who lives in the United States. The Eye of the Red Tsar is the first novel in a series featuring Inspector Pekkala.

Book Description/Synopsis

First in a gripping new series of detective novels set at the birth of Stalin's Russia,
It is the time of the Great Terror. Inspector Pekkala - known as the Emerald Eye - was once the most famous detective in all Russia, the favourite of the Tsar. Now he is the prisoner of the men he once hunted. Like millions of others, he has been sent to the gulags in Siberia and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he is as good as dead. But a reprieve comes when he is summoned by Stalin himself to investigate a crime. His mission - to uncover the men who really killed the Tsar and his family, and to locate the Tsar's treasure. The reward for success will be his freedom and the chance to re-unite with the woman he would have married if the Revolution had not torn them apart. The price of failure - death. Set against the backdrop of the paranoid and brutal country that Russia became under the rule of Stalin, Eye of the Red Tsar introduces a compelling new figure to readers of crime fiction.

What Do I Think?

First Sentence: "Through blood-dimmed eyes, the Tsar watched the man reload his gun" that hooked me straight away; however I wasn't expecting a very good read from a debut novel, I was pleasantly surprised I got a good read, fast paced in parts, slow in others but all of it good.
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