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Eye of the Red Tsar

(Inspector Pekkala #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  4,358 ratings  ·  546 reviews
This riveting suspense debut introduces both a stellar new voice and a remarkable detective, an outsider who must use his extraordinary talents to solve the one case that may redeem him.

Shortly after midnight on July 17, 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. T
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Bantam Books (first published 2010)
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Pete Inspector Pekkala conducts an investigation into the deaths of the Romanov family hoping to discover who was involved in the actual executions and whe…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)

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  4,358 ratings  ·  546 reviews

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Start your review of Eye of the Red Tsar (Inspector Pekkala, #1)
Another new series for me, which I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while now. Having recently completed the David Downing’s excellent Station series this will be my first foray into the status quo on the “other” side that of the Soviet Union in the interwar & war years, a period ive studied but not really read about so it’ll be interesting to see how much is familiar to me & looking forward to it as heard good things about the writing style.

We start after the Russian revolution which is a
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Richard Derus
Nov 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: It is the time of the Great Terror. Inspector Pekkala - known as the Emerald Eye - was the most famous detective in all Russia. He was the favourite of the Tsar. Now he is the prisoner of the men he once hunted.

Like millions of others, he has been sent to the gulags in Siberia and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he is as good as dead. But a reprieve comes when he is summoned by Stalin himself to investigate a crime. His mission - to uncover
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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.
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm an Open University* student. I study one module (equivalent broadly to one semester) per year. The courses run from the beginning of October to the Beginning of June which leaves me most of June, July, August and September to read whatever I like. Literary stuff. Science. Children's books. YA novels. Rubbish. Anything at all.

This year I noticed that my TBR bookshelf is full of non-fiction, a lot of which is social science related. But I wanted a break from that and really struggled to find s
Mar 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 08, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jennifer W
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
May 01, 2015 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
It is the time of the Great Terror. Inspector Pekkala - known as the Emerald Eye - was the most famous detective in all Russia. He was the favourite of the Tsar. Now he is the prisoner of the men he once hunted. Like millions of others, he has been sent to the gulags in Siberia and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he is as good as dead. But a reprieve comes when he is summoned by Stalin himself to investigate a crime. His mission - to uncover the men who really killed the Tsar and ...more
Lots of needless foreshadowing killed the thrill. I truly found some decisions of the protagonist extremely unbelievable. (view spoiler) I don't know if his decision somehow is a long thought out vengeance plan, to be carried out in rest of the series, but this book really left me unsatisfied. ...more
Jul 15, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked this book. War is ugly and this book showed that in grim detail. I am somewhat fascinated with Russian history, both old history and things that have occurred in the last century. It is during the last century that they seem to have struggled with identity. They have been constantly evolving, changing, and searching. This book deals with takeover after the death of the Romanovs.

Overall, I liked the character development and the sense of place in this. So 3 stars.
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful first novel in the series. Yes, Sam ones write under this pseudonym, and I therefore expected it to be a bloody good novel. I was surprised how good it was......and read the whole book inside 30 hours. Simply, a wonderful read.
Mark Miano
Dec 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Back in the 1990s I became obsessed with a young up-and-coming author named Paul Watkins. His first novel, NIGHT OVER DAY OVER NIGHT, written when he was just twenty-three, is the stunning narrative of a young German soldier who is thrown into the Battle of the Bulge. Descriptions in that book (“ersatz coffee”) still pop into mind when I think of it.

Over the years, I collected -and read- every book that Watkins wrote, attended every signing he did in the cities that I lived in, and even convinc
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Tsar Nicholas and his family, Stalin, and the revolution are key to the story of Pekkala, a detective in the new Soviet Russia. Pekkala is the guide through that chaotic time of history. He is on the path to discover the truth of the Tsar's fate and the location of his treasure. The author has created a plausible scenario involving what might have happened to these historical figures. Pekkala, as befits all fictional detectives these days, is a damaged man with a passion for doing the right thin ...more
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
This was an okay book. Fun while it lasted, but nothing special. I found some actions of characters a bit unbelievable. Not that I mind that the author twisted history a bit, it's fiction after all, but I couldn't imagine doing the things and making the choices the characters did. It didn't feel logical at all. ...more
In the newly formed Soviet Union, the Tsar’s best secret agent is released from prison to investigate the Romanovs’ murders and to locate their hidden fortune.

Suspenseful mystery with fascinating Russian history. I especially enjoyed reading a spy novel from this rare perspective.

Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a good 3.5- I really enjoyed the book, but the story was stronger than the writing and masked some flaws. I think he would have killed Dtalin at the end even if it meant being killed himself since at that point he was under no illusions about anything. Was the Ilya photo doctored like the Potemkin village? I will try the next in series to see if characters develop more....
Jane Zanker
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fab, actually made me research the Russian revolution
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 29, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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Made up "history" 4 23 Jun 30, 2016 07:51AM  
SSG: Spy/Spec-Ops...: Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland 3 87 May 09, 2015 10:57PM  

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A pseudonym used by Paul Watkins ...more

Other books in the series

Inspector Pekkala (7 books)
  • Shadow Pass (Inspector Pekkala, #2)
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