Eye of the Red Tsar takes place in 1929 with Pekkala, the main character, in a Communist labor camp. Pekkala's crime was being the Tsar's closest and most trusted inspector. He was known as the "Eye of the Tsar". After the revolution in Russian, Pekkala was sentenced to 30 years in a labor camp marking trees and having no contact to the outside world, until one day his life changed. He was summoned by Stalin himself and offered his freedom. He only had to complete one task: to find out what actually happened to the Romanovs after their "execution". Lenin had not, in fact, ordered an execution of the Romanovs and actually planned to place the Tsar only on trial. With the possibility of the Romanov family still being alive, Stalin had to act. Stalin chose Pekkala not only because he was very close to the Romanovs, but because he was the best investigator in Russia. With his freedom dangling in front of him, Pekkala becomes the Eye of the Red Tsar.
Eastland creates a puzzle of history and fiction for the reader. This novel is simply hard to put down. Eastland goes between past and present events in order to allow the reader to know the character of Pekkala before the revolution and to explain the events leading up to the start of the novel. All of his characters have a bit of mystery behind them, especially Pekkala who rarely speaks about himself. Instead Eastland allows glimpses into the character of Pekkala through Pekkala's own reflections, which are almost always with the Tsar himself. The Tsar describes Pekkala better than Pekkala ever could and Eastland's portrait of the Tsar makes the reader think he actually sat down with him face-to-face before he wrote a word. Eye of the Red Tsar is a well thought-out and developed novel that will keep any true mystery or suspense fan on the edge of their seat.
Recommended by Shannon Jackson