Sometimes I get a lull between shipments of children’s books and read a “Grown Up’s” book. The one I read most recently is a mystery that takes place in the time of Stalin’s reign, shortly after the assassination of the Romanov family.
Eye of the Red Tsar
I was put off at first by the switching back and forth between the present action to large junks of backstory, but I soon got into the rhythm of the narrative. The title comes from the nickname for Stalin.
The main character, Pekkala, was Tsar Nicholas Romanov’s most trusted agent, after the Tsar watched Pekkala disobey a direct command to jump his horse over a barbed-wire obstacle after the horse had been injured during a previous attempt. Tsar Nicholas was impressed that Pekkala would disobey his superior to save the horse. So, when Pekkala is discharged from the Corp for insubordination, he is recruited by Romanov to be part of his personal cadre of secret agents.
The two become good friends and Pekkala also strikes up a friendship with the rest of family. But, after the family is murdered, Stalin makes sure Pekkala ends up in a prison, originally for the rest of his life.
Of course, circumstances change and his services are need again. Stalin wants Pekkala to tell him where the Romanovs buried their treasure. Which means Pekkala has to figure out where the family was buried after their murders. He does that, but finds no sacks of gold.
The story is complex and Pekkala’s friendship with the Romanov family is fully fleshed out. The several subplots add depth to the story. So, if you want something different from your usual reading habits, I would recommend this book.
BIBLIO: 2010, Bantam Books/The Random House Publishing Group, $25.00.
Next week, I’ll be reviewing the latest batch of children’s book I’ve gotten. The first batch of 2017! One of the books is a new one from Nicola Yoon, who wrote the outstanding Everything, Everything. I’