Insp. Pekkala series, No 1
Sam Eastland, (aka Paul Watkins)
Bantam; Reprint edition
January 25, 2011/ ISBN 0553593234
Historical Suspense / Russia, 1929
by L J Roberts
First Sentence: Through blood-dimmed eyes, the Tasr watched
the man reload his gun.
Pekkala was once a highly respected, and feared, secret agent trusted
by both the government and Tsar Nicholas Romanov. Now is a prisoner
in Siberia with only his survival skills to keep him alive. Suddenly
the Stalin and Mother Russia need him back. There is a rumor that
one of the Romanov children survived the slaughter of the family.
It is up to Pekkala to prove, or disprove, the rumor and to find
the equally rumored Romanov treasure.
There’s nothing more enjoyable than a book with a gripping,
dramatic opening. Eastland delivered.
The character of Pekkala could have come off as stereotypical superhero/super
spy but that pitfall was neatly avoided by our being provided a
fascinating and reflective history of his life which is interwoven
throughout the story. From this, one has a greater depth of understanding
and perspective on the protagonist than one is usually granted.
Young Lt. Kirov is a wonderful balancing character with presence
and confidence but the unusual background in that he was studying
to be a chef. The building relationship between the two characters
works very well. It was mentioned to be that they remind one of
buddies from the Old Westerns.
There is excellent dialogue and delightful occasional humor. “Where
will you go when you are free?” asked Kirov. “Paris,”
he replied. “Why there?” “If you have to ask that
question, you have never been to Paris….” Eastland uses
descriptions of nature and weather very effectively—he paints
visual pictures. He also provides an informative look at the period,
good historical information and a very different view of Rasputin
that was interesting.
There was never a moment where I considered putting this book down.
There was a very good red herring followed by an interesting twist,
capped by a tragic and dramatic climax, but the very end didn’t
quite work for me, or at least, I didn’t quite believe it.
Nor do I think we were meant to, but it makes a very good possible
segue to a future story line. What I particularly liked was that
the author didn’t take 400 pages to tell what really was a
very good 200-page story.
Eastland definitely has a way about him and I am certainly looking
forward to his next book.