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The Red Moth (Inspector Pekkala Book 4) Kindle Edition
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The Red Moth is the fourth book in the "Inspector Pekkala" series. It can be read without knowledge of the previous three books because enough background information is given to fill in the gaps in Pekkala's biography. When the book opens, Pekkala has advanced to a senior position in the Soviet Union's secret police, the NKVD, and is the possessor of a "shadow pass", a Classified Operations Permit, which enables a man to "appear and disappear at will within the wilderness of regulations that controlled the State" and also to requisition any person or equipment required for their special operations.
In The Red Moth, we find ourselves in 1941. The German army is advancing eastwards through Russia and is even beginning to threaten Moscow. Stalin is directing the war effort but is worried about Russia's great art treasures and is determined that they will not fall into German hands. In the art galleries and museums of Moscow lists are being drawn up of the most valuable artefacts so that they can be moved eastwards but for items located in the grand palaces of the west, it may already be too late.
Stalin is particularly worried about the Amber Room, installed by Empress Catherine I in 1717 in the Catherine Palace or Tsarskoye Selo. This magnificent and priceless artefact consists of a room with walls lined in amber. The author helpfully lists its real-life history at the end of the book. It is sometimes dubbed the eighth wonder of the world, and reconstructed in 2003 (see Wikipedia article and click on the photograph to see it full size). Inspector Pekkala is tasked with the job of securing the Amber Room, an incredibly complex and challenging task, but with Comrade Stalin's commands behind him, he has no option other than to try to rise to the challenge.
The core of the novel is surrounded by a number of sub-plots and as Pekkala and his colleagues travel around Moscow we learn much about daily life in Soviet Russia. In a parallel story line which eventually converges with the main one, we become acquainted with a Russian anti-aircraft gun team who are operating on the Russian/German front-line near the Catherine Palace. The author describes the grim realities of war as the soldiers deal with incoming planes and advancing tanks, in an attempt to defend the palace.
A wide cast of characters support the story, including Stalin himself, who seems to be realistically drawn, bearing about him such an air of terror that even his favoured servants have to walk in fear for their lives. At one point, Pekkala has to visit a convict in the Lubyanka prison and the author spares his readers no detail of the dreadful conditions in the underground cells. Pekkala knows of course that mission failure on his part could see him incarcerated along with those he has come to interview.
The Red Moth is a very well-written and cleverly-constructed book and having read it I now want to go and read the other three novels in the series.
Pekkala is a Finn in Russia, ex-super-investigator for the Tsar, and current top investigator for Stalin, as You can read in the former books of the series: Eye of the Red Tsar,Red Coffin aka Shadow Pass: A Novel of Suspense (Inspector Pekkala),Siberian Red (aka Archive 17).
Once sent by Stalin to Siberia to live or die, didn't matter for the new ruler of all Russians, he was recaalled into service because of his special ways of investigating. And for an other virtue: Pekkala cannot be broken or bought - he is absolutely loyal to his master...
Hitler's forces are invading the Soviet territory, but there are scout planes who are entering Russia before the army marches on. One of these planes is forced down near Catherine Palace - supposed to be the hiding place of the most priced treasure of the whole Russian Empire: The Amber Room. The passenger fulfils his last mission in the cruelest way possible. And a design is found in the plane: A Red Moth... Pekkala knows of those moths, and soon will be able to solve the mystery about this picture.
And then will start a race against the time to save the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and to put it into a safe hiding place. But it's almost too late!
So Pekkala has to put his own life on the line to outfox the German invaders...
As always, Sam Eastland - which is a nom de plume - is writing about the desperate fight of the Russians against the German invaders. But - as always - he is bending some facts into the shape he needs to create the highest suspense possible...
After the end of this book I am avidly awaiting the release of the Nr 5 of the series The Beast in the Red Forest: Inspector Pekkala Series, Book 5 (Inspector Pekkala 5)!
PS: Which I have bought for kindle right in this moment!
And the saga about Pekkala the Mysterious goes on...
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