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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars

on 8 March 2013
Although I am not a regular reader of fiction, preferring non-fiction, this book caught my attention due to its interesting characters and scenario. I learnt something about Czarist and Stalinist Russia whilst enjoying a relaxing read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 February 2013
The Red Moth is a gripping novel set in Stalin's Russia involving a personal audience with Stalin, a hunt for a great art treasure and a terrifying journey across the Russian/German front-line.

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.
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on 31 December 2013
...for the last Tsar's Greatest Mystery?

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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on 21 December 2014
I have read each of the novels in this 'RED' series and this is the 4th. The central character in the series is a Fin called Pekkala who was the Tsar's personal, trusted, investigator. After years in Siberian exile he has been snatched from the wilderness by Stalin, the Eye of the Red Tsar, to become his special agent. The story of Pekkala's rise under the Tsar and how he comes to work for Stalin is told in the Red Tsar Eye of the Red Tsar (Inspector Pekkala). In the succeeding novels that backstory is oft repeated but not in this book. This one is much more focussed on the 'now' and it benefits from that as the telling is more compact and it maintains a fast pace throughout.

The Red Moth is set during WW2 in the summer of the Nazi advance on Leningrad and the beginning of the encirclement of the city. In their route of advance lies the Tsarskoye Selo, the Tsar's grand summer palace in the country and in that palace is the spectacular amber room. Before the Germans take control of the palace a German plane is shot down in its vicinity. The plane is carrying just the pilot and and as SS Man. The SS Man is carrying a small leather case and in that case there is a small painting of a red moth. The painting comes into Russian hands and the question is why was it so important to the SS and what were they doing over Russian territory.

Stalin summons Pekkala to investigate the painting, its source and its meaning. A task about like that given by Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel to tell and interpret his dreams, with a similar penalty for failure. Pekkala's investigation leads to a reunion with an old pre-revolutionary friend and a woman who reminds him of his lost sweetheart. Kirov, Pekkala's sidekick plays a more prominent and independent role in this novel, no longer in the background behind his mentor but playing an important role in his own account. When Pekkala is sent behind enemy lines to try to prevent the amber room falling into Nazi hands it is Kirov who is summoned to stand before Stalin at all hours of the day and night and give account of his investigation.

There are a lot of really interesting, well drawn characters in this book and some graphic accounts of the brutality of front-line fighting. Treachery and revenge are writ large and there is also a shocking ending to the story.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 May 2013
Superb episode in a fine, original historic fiction/crime series that features the unlikely relationship of Joseph Stalin and the last Tsar's personal security associate, Inspector Pekkala. This time around, the year is 1941, the Soviet Union has been invaded by the Nazis and a national treasure is under threat from the latter's advancing forces. After decoding the details of the German plot to steal the priceless piece of Russian cultural history, Pekkala is dispatched by Stalin to besieged Leningrad to stop the perpetrators. A parallel story line realistically portray what it was like to be an ordinary Soviet soldier standing in the way of Hitler's forces at the beginning of the German-Soviet conflict.

Author Sam Eastland has a real talent for fast-paced action, interesting plot twists, and first and foremost, pulling together some terrific characters. "The Red Moth" is a good example of his skill at providing the reader with an intelligent story (admittedly bordering on the implausible at times) and a bang-up, action ending. A highly entertaining read in its various parts and highly recommended.
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on 1 June 2013
I absolutely love these books. They are consistant in their great plots and descriptive pros and each time a new one is published it feels as though you are catching up with an old friend. Although this is the fourth book in the series, Sam Eastland compiles the story in such a way it will always 'fill in the gaps' even if you have not read the preceeding three books.

Like all the other books in the series The Red Moth has a number of plots interwoven within in the main storyline. The only problem I had with the book was that I could not put it down and therefore finished it too quickly! I hope that there is a sequel in the pipeline somewhere in the near future.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 December 2014
I can't say I found the plot in this book (Germans v Russians over the Amber Room) particularly gripping until about 70% in when it got riveting but I liked the historical detail of how and what Russian soldiers suffered during the war as it was very interesting and I think Mr Eastland has done a great job of portraying the chaos of war. I don't feel that I can say much more about the plot as it starts with very little and gradually builds up so more detail would include spoilers. Stick with it because the ending is great but a bit of a cliffhanger so I'm going to have to read the next one (The Beast In The Red Forest) straight away to see what comes next.
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on 10 April 2016
Inspector Pekkala is my hero. He is one of my two favourite characters (the other being Matthew Shardlake in the series by CJ Sansom). Kirov is also very endearing and I love his loyalty to Pekkala.
The series takes us into a little known world and makes it all so easy to understand yet also evokes the feelings of fear and suspicion in the Stalinist Soviet Union. I think Sam Eastland has done a magnificent job with this series. I would love to see this as a tv series (not a film - it wouldn't be long enough).
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on 6 July 2013
The story was OK to a point but dragged a bit and at no time could I call it exciting. The book makes a simple holiday read that does not take too much effort but I will not be reading the next in the series (this was the 2nd Pekkala book I have read) - I had just finished Dan Browns 'Inferno' when I read this book and found 'Inferno' to be on a completely different, higher, and more intelligent level than 'The Red Moth' although a lot more difficult to read and follow.
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on 6 May 2013
I'm a big fan of the Inspector Pekkala series but was a bit reluctant to start this one because the third book was less then impressive with lots of flashbacks and not a very interested present story, this one however was a great book from Eastland. Pekkala was at his best while the war is going on, and a twist at the end that should prove to be very entertaining in the next book.
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