Book Review: The Red Coffin by Sam Eastland

the red coffin #russia #stalin
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 one, Inspector Pekkala has the dictator’s permission to go anywhere and interrogate anyone. But the closer Pekkala gets to answers, the more questions he uncovers—first and foremost, why is the state’s most dreaded female operative, Commissar Major Lysenkova, investigating the case when she’s only assigned to internal affairs?

I got an uncorrected proof copy of this book as part of LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers. There are a couple of minor proofing issues I spotted, and hopefully these will be picked up before the official release. Nothing too major (I hope!)

This is the second of the Pekkala books, but the first one I have read. As a thriller, it is enjoyable and fast paced, especially at the end. There are a number of flash backs during the book, which I can see as annoying to others, but only one (the combined memories of his ex-love) which I thought was a little shoe-horned in, and split up the narrative, even if it was only a page or so long.

Pekkala’s does have a “all access pass” into Stalin’s presence, which is a little difficult to understand, considering his previous relationship with the Tsar. I have read other depictions of Stalin that, rightly or wrongly, present Stalin as a paranoid control freak, so Pekkala’s apparent easy access is incongruous. This may have been explained in the previous (or future?!) books.

The representation of the Tsar and Tsarina were reasonable, showing them as slightly out of touch, but so enmeshed in politics and personal relationships, including that around Rasputin, that you can see where some of their problems lay.

On the whole an enjoyable read, and would read similar by this author

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