Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Eye of the Red Tsar (Inspector Pekkala #1)” as Want to Read:
Eye of the Red Tsar (Inspector Pekkala #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Eye of the Red Tsar (Inspector Pekkala #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,562 Ratings  ·  415 Reviews
One July, 1918, the imprisoned family of Tsar Nicholas Romanov was awakened and led down to the basement of the Ipatiev house. There they were summarily executed. Their bodies were hidden away, the location a secret of the Soviet state.

A decade later, one man lives in purgatory, banished to a forest on the ouskirts of humanity. Pekkala, was once the most trusted secret ag
ebook, BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Sam Eastland's" Shadow Pass.", 304 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Bantam (first published 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Eye of the Red Tsar, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Pete Inspector Pekkala conducts an investigation into the deaths of the Romanov family hoping to discover who was involved in the actual executions and…moreInspector Pekkala conducts an investigation into the deaths of the Romanov family hoping to discover who was involved in the actual executions and whether the child Alexi may have survived. Although Pekkala's own life is at risk late in the story I think this novel fits into the mystery genre better than the thriller genre.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I enjoyed this one, but it gets two stars because, after writing this review, I realized my enjoyment had more to do with the subject matter than with the actual merits of the book. I've always had a fascination with Russian history, especially anything dealing with the Romanovs and the Revolution. I've devoured numerous books on the subject, but this one fell short of my hopes for three reasons.

First, the suspense, for me, was dampened by knowledge of the Romanovs' fate. True, you'd have to liv
Nov 22, 2011 Jay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jay by: Barnes & Noble Staff Recommendation
I am always looking for serial novels that I can read more or less in a sitting or two, that fall into the general category of crime or mystery, and that keep me turning the page with a heightened level of anticipation. A Barnes and Noble staff member recommended Sam Eastland’s “Eye of the Red Tsar”. It is the first in a series of, to date, two works that will engage its protagonist in a variety of investigations in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Eastland’s choice of the staging area of the series undou ...more
Sam Eastland's first (as far as I can tell) novel offers an intriguing setting: the Soviet Union in 1929. HIstorical novels of Russia abound, but most are set either in Tsarist times or in recent decades. Eastland's protagonist, Pekkala (his first name, like Spenser's, is never given), was a detective who was very close to Tsar Nicholas II and his family. After the revolution he was sent to a Siberian labor camp, where he managed to survive in conditions that no one else was able to endure. As t ...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Report: Pekkala is the Tsar's most powerful subject, the only one with the power to arrest even the Tsar himself for crimes against Russia. The Revolution, naturally enough, ends that power, and Pekkala endures torture and isolation for more than a decade before Comrade Stalin needs Pekkala's unique skills and knowledge to solve a lingering mystery: Who actually killed the Tsar, since it wasn't Moscow's orders to do so? Did any of the Romanovs survive Ekaterinburg? T
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Mysteries within mysteries. I loved the complexity of this plot.
I've been having some great luck with first novels lately, and this is another excellent one. The story takes place in 1929 and presents some fresh twists on the old "what really happened to the Romanovs?" conundrum. It's meticulously researched for period detail. Parts of the book were so fascinating that I almost wished it was longer, but I appreciate the author's all-too-rare ability to keep it tight and contained.

There's a sup
I find Russian history fascinating. Russia has been through so many changes and often in a very dramatic way.
With the inclusion of the Romanov family demise and the political landscape 10 years after their death, the author imbued the story with a dramatic and desperate feel.
I was amazed that Pekkala would be so calm after all he'd been through, it just seems like you would want to rail at the system or disappear as soon as you could but I like him as a detective character, that same calmness
Joshua Rigsby
What Eastland does best is his excruciating attention to period detail. The emblems on buttons, the texture of the wall in the prison, the kinds of army rations his characters endure, are all presented precisely and deliberately. It also helps that this book covers a topic and a period that I knew very little about previously, and this also added to the charm.

A minor point where the book falls short is the amount of time it spends on the main character's relationship with his estranged brother.
May 01, 2015 Bandit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Random selection, just wanted something to listen to, but this turned out quite good. Really interesting setting, compelling mystery. Finnish inspector searching for the long buried secrets of the royal Romanov family. Solid pacing, plenty of suspense, excellent descriptions. Few far stretched plot points towards the end thrown in for the dramatic effects, but what thriller doesn't. Of course, it's a series, genre writers seem practically unable to leave a good thing well enough alone, but at le ...more
Amber Dunten
Fact: During the 1917 Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II and his family were arrested and imprisoned.

Fact: They spent part of their year-long imprisonment under house arrest at the Ipatiev House in the town of Yekaterinburg, while the Bolsheviks argued over what to do with them. Some wanted to simply execute them, but the cooler heads argued a public trial would help bolster the legitimacy of the new government.

Fact: As the anti-communist White Army approached the town, rather than risk allo
Jan 19, 2011 Shannan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Megan
Shelves: 2011
This book had nice character development and some very thoughtful reflections on life and war and change. I enjoyed reading this book merely as a stand alone suspense novel, but not as a work of historical fiction. Actually the sub-title reminds us that this is indeed a "Novel of Suspense" perhaps so the reader wont get too caught up in the names and dates and well, the truth. The author does include an index at the end with facts, and I fought the urge to flip back and read it because I think i ...more
Jennifer W
Feb 26, 2010 Jennifer W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book on goodreads giveaways!! My first win! Can't wait to get it. I love the Russian Revolution, it's got the perfect mix of story elements- kings and queens, a mystical doctor who basically controls the family, rebellion, murder, and a possible escape. What more could you want in a story?

I was really quite impressed with this book. There are some minor areas that could be better but overall a very good first book from an author that I will certainly be reading in the future. I think
Mar 04, 2010 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
A first-reads win.

I've been reading an unusual amount of historical thrillers this year. Eyes of The Red Tsar is set in Stalinist Russia and it is a entertaining but flawed mystery. This book appears to be the first of a series. The author puts together a strong protagonist named Pekkala with a number of Sherlockian skills like quick perception and a photographic memory. Yet this first novel of the series lacks the pacing and action I would expect from this type of tale. While I found it quite r
Jaideep Gill
The history of the Romanovs and controversy regarding their execution is a topic that has fascinated me since a very long time. The number of theories about certain members,most notedly Alexei and Anastasia being alive and that they had been sited at various places has been a hot topic of discussion over the years. Until recently, the circumstances leading to their execution and disappearance of their bodies was considered one of the most mysterious in the history.

The eye of the Red Tsar by Sam
Aug 28, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: BOTNS
Just arrived from Finland through BM.

A very griping espionage story of Inspector Pekkala who formerly was Tsar's special investigator.

The plot involves the Romanov's assassination with the historical background of the Russian revolution.
L'unica parte decente e interessante di questo libro sono le note storiche alla fine del volume, probabilmente perchè ricalcano i passaggi dei libri biografici presi come fonte storica e citati nel libro stesso. Visto che non sono neanche una decina, ci si può rendere conto della ricerca storica che si è fatta per scrivere questa meraviglia, probabilmente ne ho letti più io.
I personaggi principali di questa storia sono delle macchiette completamente improbabili del contesto storico che si voleva
This was a book I won in a First Read's giveaway.

Sam Eastland's affable first book of an investigator in Stalin-era Russia is an interesting, if predictable, read.

For a "thriller," the novel is noticeably lacking in thrills. The first four-fifths contains no sign of an adversary as the hero and his cohort extensively investigate the Romanov's disappearance with no resistance at all. "Chill[s}" likewise are noticeably absent from this formulaic murder investigation. Until very late in the book,
Subjects in crime fiction seem to come in waves these days. Russian history seems to be one of those waves, either that or there's some weird synergy going on in my life. EYE OF THE RED TSAR is one of the Russian themed books I've been lucky enough to receive recently. Set against Russia under the rule of Stalin and all the brutality and ruthlessness that regime imposed, this is a book about the life of Pekkala. A favourite of the Tsar, Pekkala was known to be utterly loyal to his master.

Mar 02, 2010 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. It's still an honest review, but the FTC wanted you to know...
This was a good story, which I won from goodreads. Despite being a little slower than I expected (the book is advertised as a thriller, but is more of a historical mystery) I really enjoyed it. It takes place in the early 1900s in Russia, where the Tsar's most trusted investigator is pulled from a prison camp to investigate the death of the Tsar and his famil
Apr 10, 2010 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nicholas Romanov, Tsar of Russia was a very powerful man. With wealth and power comes the danger of people always wanting to kill you.

While training in the military, Pekkala met Romanov. They became friends, formed form their admiration for each other. Due to Pekkala amazing ability to remember things, even down to the smallest of things like how many buttons are on someone’s coat; Romanov brought Pekkala into his closest circle. Pekkala became known as “The Red Eye of the Tsar.
In 1917, Romano
Won this book in a tag-give-away on Facebook. Look forward to read it very much!

At last I had the time to read this book.

While reading, some of the expectations I had were not fulfilled: the text on the back cover suggests that it is a very exciting book, but for me it was not.
During the story I was curious about what would happen, but did not sit on the edge of my seat, ready to warn the main character that something is about to happen what I know, but he is not. (Sometimes I have that with a
Oct 29, 2010 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This debut historical thriller takes the execution of the Romanov royal family in 1918 as the catalyst for its plot. (A word of warning to anyone with a an interest in or knowledge of the Romanovs and/or that era of Russian/Soviet history -- the author takes a great deal of fictional liberties with the known facts -- as is his right as a storyteller -- so don't expect one of those works of historical fiction that dovetails perfectly with reality.) The protagonist is a Finn named Pekkala who enli ...more
Gail Bradshaw
I enjoyed the writing style of Sam Eastland, especially some of his descriptions of small things that were pleasantly surprising and clever. His characters were mostly believable, the plot was good (if you don't know the actual story of the Romanov's murder then it is a surprise ending). The only thing I didn't like was what I considered a flaw in the main character near the end of the book, he did not get something right that I believe if he truly was the strong character he was made out to be ...more
May 20, 2011 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me want to know more about Russian history. It made me wish I had listened more closely in my world history classes growing up. I really liked Pekkala's character. I love characters who have strong morals and stick to them despite adversity and/or temptations of monetary gains or promises of power.

I have to admit that I wasn't always sure who could be trusted throughout this book which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout it. I don't know if that is a function of my lack of k
Stephanie C.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 11, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes Russian stories, or mysteries, or the time it takes place.
Recommended to Richard by: I read all Mr. Eastland's work.
Finally we learn the previously unknown story of exactly what happened to the Romanov family after the Reds took over Russia following the Communist Revolution. There has always been lots of speculation, and our investigator hears lots of stories from the various "eye" witnesses to their final hours.

Pekkala, previously the tsar's independent police inspector, is tasked with finding out the truth by none other than Joseph Stalin, The Red Tsar, himself. This is after serving a tough 10 years in a
I have to admit. I inadvertently read the second book in the Pekkala series (#2 Shadow Pass) first. I enjoyed it quite a bit, so I received this as a gift from my girlfriend, and while it was slow mostly the first half of the book, it ended with a much more intense tone. The book is labeled as a "suspense/thriller" novel, but I would consider it more a "mystery/suspense". Admittedly, I am 100% new to the genre of mystery, technically this is my second mystery book ever (Shadow Pass being my firs ...more
Mar 03, 2010 Sheri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won the Eye of the Red Tsar (Sam Eastland) on Good Reads. This is a fantastic story set in Russia, under the reign of Josef Stalin, during the (Russian) revolution.

The Tsar of Russia, Nicholas Romanov and his family have been brutally murdered. Detective inspector Pakkala was Romanov's most trusted loyal ally. Upon the death of the Tsar , Pakkala is imprisoned and Banished to Siberia. Years later he is summoned back to Russia to solve the mystery of the Romanov's death.

Intense drama, with susp
Πάνος Τουρλής
Καλό αστυνομικό. Τύπου Μπελ, καθόλου προχειρογραμμένο. Παράληλλα με την ιστορία του σήμερα (1929) ανατπύσσεται η ιστορία του παρελθόντος του Πέκαλα, ποιος ήταν, ποιες οι αντιλήψεις του, γιατί τον επέλεξε ο τσάρος για στενό συνεργάτη του, ποια η σχέση του με τον αδερφό του, ποια τα καθήκοντά του και τι απέγινε όταν καταλύθηκε η παντοκρατορία του τσάρου. Στο σήμερα ο Πέκαλα επιστρέφει από τις φυλακές όπου τον έριξε το νέο κράτος για να τον παρακολουθεί συνέχεια και αναλαμβάνει να αναγνωρίσει τα πτ ...more
Daisies on Bookshelves
Om te beginnen vind ik de kaft van het boek mooi en goed passen bij het verhaal. Hoewel Sam Eastland zonder twijfel echt een heel vaardig schrijver is en ik heel erg van zijn schrijfstijl genoten heb, had ik hier en daar toch wat moeite om écht in het verhaal te komen. Het begin vond ik sterk geschreven maar daarna krijg je een korte flashback, om dan terug kort naar het heden te gaan, en dan terug naar het verleden,… Het volledige boek wisselt om de gemiddeld 8 pagina’s van tijd. Persoonlijk de ...more
Mar 31, 2015 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not liking this book was a huge bummer. I dig the subject matter and Eastland quickly establishes a fascinating premise in introducing the enigmatic Inspector Pekkala, a relic of Tsarist Russia brought back into service by agents of Stalin. Yet ultimately this book falters as it commits several key cardinal sins of detective fiction: little tension, meager stakes, no drama, and a frustrating dolt of a detective.

The novel jumps between two main narratives spanning different eras of Pekkala's life
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
SSG: Spy/Spec-Ops...: Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland 3 77 May 09, 2015 10:57PM  
Made up "history" 1 7 Mar 27, 2015 05:45PM  
  • The Holy Thief (Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev, #1)
  • Death of a Dissident (Porfiry Rostnikov, #1)
  • Stettin Station (John Russell, #3)
  • The Paths of the Air (Hawkenlye Mysteries, #11)
  • The French Admiral (Alan Lewrie, #2)
  • The Long Walk: Slavery to Freedom
  • Rosa (Berlin Trilogy, #1)
  • Chilly Milly Moo
  • Death of a Nationalist (Tejada, #1)
  • Odd Velvet
  • The Gentle Axe (Porfiry Petrovich, #1)
  • The White Russian
  • The Split Second (The Seems, #2)
  • Moonlight Downs (Emily Tempest, #1)
  • The Bellini Card (Yashim the Eunuch, #3)
  • The Romanov Bride
  • Three Stations (Arkady Renko, #7)
  • City of Silver: A Mystery

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Pekkala (7 books)
  • Shadow Pass (Inspector Pekkala #2)
  • Archive 17 (Inspector Pekkala #3)
  • The Red Moth (Inspector Pekkala, #4)
  • The Beast in the Red Forest (Inspector Pekkala, #5)
  • Red Icon (Inspector Pekkala,  #6)
  • Berlin Red (Inspector Pekkala, #7)

Share This Book

“Greed does not rest until it is satisfied, and greed is never satisfied” 7 likes
“Some people thirst for fame. They will do anything to have it. They will betray anyone. They will humiliate themselves and those around them. To be hated or loved makes no difference to them. What they want is to be known. Is is a sad addiction, and such people wallow in it all their lives, like pigs in filth.” 6 likes
More quotes…