Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Archive 17-Sam Eastland

Archive 17

Sam Eastland

Bantam, Feb 28 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780345525734

In 1939, Stalin and Hitler expect war soon in spite of armistice talks. However, the vicious Russian dictator has inside issues as he has led the Communist nation over the edge spiraling into bankruptcy. Needing capital, Stalin assigns his most trusted (at the moment) investigator Inspector Pekkala to look into the homicide of former Tsarist cavalry Captain Ryabov in the Borodok labor camp in Siberia. Pekkala knows the camp first hand having spent time there as a former Trist guard courtesy of Stalin.

Though Stalin worries that his enemies will use the murder to try a coup, the homicide inquiry is partly Pekkala’s cover, as he demands his agent find the missing Tsarist gold. Thus Pekkala must pretend to be a political prisoner while he infiltrates the dwindling remaining loyal Tsarists, those willing to die for the cause of the Comitati gang.

The third Pekkala Stalin era thriller (see Eye of the Red Tsar and Shadow Pass) is a great tale that shows how quickly the brutal dictator can turn from best friend to murderous enemy. In many ways Siberia steals the show as an incredible location for the tundra-isolated stark camp (mindful of the Gulag Archipelago memoir of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) in a sort of locked room mystery with “barbarians waiting at the gate for escapees. This is a strong historical.

Harriet Klausner

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