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Shadow Pass

(Inspector Pekkala #2)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,501 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Deep in the Russian countryside, a thirty-ton killing machine known officially as T-34 is being developed in total secrecy. Its inventor is a rogue genius whose macabre death is considered an accident only by the innocent. Suspecting assassins everywhere, Stalin brings in his best—if least obedient—detective to solve a murder that’s tantamount to treason. Answerable to no ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Bantam (first published 2011)
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3.87  · 
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 ·  1,501 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hist-f-c20th
We begin our story about a decade+ past from the prior book in 1939, which came as a bit of a surprise as I thought we’d have a story (or two) set within the period 1928-38 when Stalin purged the Army amongst many other things. My immediate thought was we’ve missed a trick here skipping so many years!

As to our story, it’s a fast engaging start to the book. Inspector Pekkala is front & centre along with a “victim” & the many protagonists/colleagues involved with said murder. It’s not much
Elaine Tomasso
If you want an uncomplicated, undemanding read this may be the book for you. It is set in pre-war Russia and Stalin sets Pekkala on the hunt for a spy who has leaked details of a top secret tank (the Red Coffin of the title) but as he sets about investigating someone kills the tank's designer. I, personally, found it all a bit cozy given the era and the setting. There is no sense of the pervasive fear or the real shortages that were part of everyday life and Uncle Joe seems almost reasonable. It ...more
Ended up being disappointed by this book. Enjoyed the first, Eye of the Red Tsar , much more. The flashbacks that provide history and perspective were fewer and not as interesting; they seemed almost contrived to fit the circumstances. I still like Inspector Pekkala and will read the next book about him, but will be looking for more character development about Pekkala, his assistant Kirov, and his relationship to Stalin. Stalin was an imposing historical figure, but in this book he seems like c ...more
Rob Innis
What could have been an excellent book spoiled by over use of excruciating similes and adverbs, irrelevant detail (adding nothing to the story) and lose ends. Also some of the characters traits were very hard to believe in the context. But I have read worse.............
John Marsh
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A quick and easy read but nothing special in the genre and will make anyone with historical knowledge of the time cringe with pain.

The historical issues are well covered in other reviews so I will skip them.

It is hard to care for the characters who all fit into a few fairly simple cliches and lack any real depth or personality. Case in point, the main character spent years in a gulag, works for the man responsible for sending people to these gulags, does a job which presumably sends more people
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable series set in the USSR in the 1930s told with flashbacks to the pre-revolutionary era when Inspector Pekkala was the Tsar's most trusted police investigator, wearing a special lapel pin to identify him called the Emerald Eye. Now he works for Stalin, depicted as something like a grumpily exacting uncle figure, which is disconcerting when you consider what the dictator was doing at this time, the Great Terror and starvation in the Ukraine as state policy.

Pekkala must investigate the
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
This is an interesting read even if the main character is implausible. The chief engineer in charge of developing the T34 tank is killed and it is up to Inspector Pekkala to investigate both the death and security at the research base. The story flows easily though it is interrupted by reminiscences which I failed to see the point of (it actually feels like the story is being padded here). Stalin is presented a a very nice fatherly figure (as if!) and there is little (if any) of the neurotic qua ...more
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-books
I feel like the character Pekkala changed from the first novel to this one, I'm not quite sure I like him as much anymore. As is so often the case with sequels, the author seemed unable to keep up the quality in the second story. I may pick up the third one if I happen to come across it when I have little else to be reading, but I won't seek it out as I did this one.
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sam-eastland
It loses a star because I had figured it out around the 50-60% mark, and had my suspicions much sooner. Other than that, the character and writing is great and we even got a laugh at the expense of Stalin. Recommended reading, for sure.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is 1938, and Inspector Pekkala's second case on Stalin's orders takes him into the remote Russian country-side to investigate the macabre death of Colonel Rolan Nagorski, an eccentric inventor whose latest creation is the most closely guarded secret in Russia. Is Nagorski's death connected to his invention? Pekkala arrives at the research facility to find shock at the manner in which Nagorski died, as well as mistrust and rivalry between some of the scientists working there. Nagorski was crus ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
The premise behind the Inspector Pekkala series is an interesting one: a detective protagonist so good at solving mysteries that his monstrous employers (first Tsar Nicholas II, then Josef Stalin) tolerate the fact that he actually has a conscience.

Of course, operating within the constraints of totalitarian systems like imperial autocracy and Stalinist dictatorship, one doesn't get many chances to do more with one's conscience than pay occasional mental or verbal homage to it-- which is the Pek
Gordon Johnston
An interesting read and something a bit different.

Set in 1939, Inspector Pekkala is Stalin's top investigator and is called in when the man leading the development of the T34 tank is killed.. This is highly significant, as war with Germany is imminent and the tank is thought to be crucial to Russia's survival. Pekkala investigates and survives a couple of attempts on his life before solving the case.

The character development is strong throughout although the plot twists are all rather obvious.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second Inspector Pekkala mystery, straddling his work for the Tzar in flashbacks and currently working as the special chief inspector for Stalin. Pekkala, the Russian "Bernie Gunther."
This one involves the development and intrigue around the Soviet T-34 tank, murder, and mayhem. Good and interesting characters, nice to spend some time with. Oh. And, interesting times; moments before the Molotov / Ribbentrop pact.
David Lowther
The Red Coffin is Sam Eastland's second in the Inspector Pekkala series. It was very strong on character (Stalin himself makes an appearance or two) but less so on plot. Irritatingly there were numerous flash backs which slowed the pace of the novel a little.

Nevertheless Pekkala is a fascinating character and I shall resume reading the series in due course.

David Lowther. Author of The Blue Pencil, Two Families at War, Liberating Belsen and The Summer of '39
Dianne Landry
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it appears that the designer of a new tank nicknamed the red coffin is trying to sell the plans to the Germans Stalin calls Pekkala in to investigate. Things take a turn when the scientist is murdered and Major Lysenkova of the NKVD takes over the case. She screws up and so Pekkala has to step in and solve the case. There were interesting twists and I liked the flashback pieces. I really enjoy this series and look forward to reading the next one.

Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspector Pekkala is a great character. A Finn in the Soviet Union. I will keep reading this series. I first came across the author in a bookstore in London, a super cool store that had an entire room for mystery, another entire room for fantasy, even a room for science. Every recommendation they made has panned out for me.
David James
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love these books. Pekkalla has a badge from the Czar,a gun and a letter from Stalin. He has been involved with the last Romanovs, met Rasputin; pure fiction but Eastland makes the reader believe it. He makes history come true however unlikely the book is. The plots are simplistic, it's just the atmosphere that attracts me. How long can Pekkala keep going?
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I’ll start by saying I really liked the first book in this series. This second book was a quick read, and not awful, but I found myself wanting to just get finished with it in the last 50 pages or so. I’ll try the third in the series and hope it is more on par with the first in the series.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a suspense series set in WWII where the protagonist is a Russian who works for Stalin. I would definitely recommend this series to someone who is looking for a suspense/action series and has read all the super popular authors already.
Chris F
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I mostly enjoyed this one, which is the second in the series. However, the character of Stalin comes across as a bit weak and not very historically accurate.
Lynne Premo
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
On the continuum of sequels, not a bad read. Different formula than the first book, further character development and backstory. Relatively engaging.
Not as good as the first one, this time the going back and forth in time with Pekkala's memories got annoying.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good page-turner.
Larry Lange
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book as I did the first one. It makes good listening while I am on the treadmill. I will listen to the third book if it is available.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More adventures of The Finnish-Russian detective, steeped in Russian history. This time, the czar is dead and he's working for Stalin, but the intrigues are just as labyrinthine and the dangers as imminent. The premise is original and engaging, the twists and turns intriguing; it would have earned five stars had it not spent so much time recalling the events that occurred in the first volume, which were unnecessary.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Eye of the Red Tsar, the first in the series about Inspector Pekkala, was a Good Reads giveaway I'd won over a year ago. I loved the book, gave it a great review, passed it on to friends, made a note to follow the series and then became engrossed in many other books and forgot about keeping track of the author's new books. Recently, looking for something new to read I came upon Shadow Pass and decided to order it. It is as good or better than the first installment.

Inspector Pekkala is a Finn who
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In the second book to feature Inspector Pekkala, history has moved forward nearly ten years. In THE EYE OF THE RED TSAR, Inspector Pekkala is assigned a case that he is uniquely able to investigate. Pekkala had been the eyes and ears of Tsar Nicholas II. As the tsar’s chief spy, Pekkala was known by the badge given to him by Nicholas, a badge describes as an emerald eye. Pekkala’s loyalty to the tsar earned his a death sentence in Siberia but Pekkala survives and finds himself called upon by Sta
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a long time, I wasn't really sure which way to go on this one.

Was it long and dull and miserable, with not an awful lot of any consequence happening after the initial, interesting set-up?

Or was it a slow-burning, languid, subtle study of a police investigation in late '30's Russia? A Russia still remembering and indeed revering the rule of the Tsars, whilst feeling its way forward into the true terror of the workers paradise Stalin had in store. A story where all that goes before the final t
Andrew Lee
There seems to be some variance in titles for these books but I've managed to sort out that "The Red Coffin" and "Shadow Pass" are one and the same. I'm guessing there were different editions? In any case, this is the second installment in the Inspector Pekkala series about the incorruptible former personal investigator to the Tsar and now serving in a similar role for Comrade Stalin in the Soviet Union.

The first volume spent a great deal of time exploring Pekkala's backstory and trying to show
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A pseudonym used by Paul Watkins

Other books in the series

Inspector Pekkala (7 books)
  • Eye of the Red Tsar (Inspector Pekkala, #1)
  • 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)