Customer Reviews


111 Reviews
5 star:
 (46)
4 star:
 (35)
3 star:
 (17)
2 star:
 (10)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging historical thriller & start of a new series
I enjoyed this book very much. I would have given it 5 stars but for one plot point that I could not believe (later on that - but no spoilers). But even with that, I would definitely read the next book in what I assume will become a series of Inspector Pekkala books (the next book comes out in 2011).

The main character is Pekkala. At the beginning of the...
Published on March 9, 2010 by Sandy Kay

versus
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars In the End, Eye of the Red Tsar was a major Disappointment
Other reviewers have mentioned the my main problem with this book so I won't consider it a spoiler alert. This book certainly started out well but gradually fell apart. It would have been an okay mystery read except for one thing, but it was a major thing and totally ruined the book for me. Pekkala was suppose to be this master investigator with a extraodinary memory...
Published on May 23, 2010 by Lael Prock


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging historical thriller & start of a new series, March 9, 2010
By 
Sandy Kay (Twin Cities, Minnesota USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed this book very much. I would have given it 5 stars but for one plot point that I could not believe (later on that - but no spoilers). But even with that, I would definitely read the next book in what I assume will become a series of Inspector Pekkala books (the next book comes out in 2011).

The main character is Pekkala. At the beginning of the book he is a prisoner in a Soviet labor camp assigned to mark trees for cutting; he has been there for nine years since the Tsar's abdication. A young political officer (Kirov) comes to request his assistance in an investigation because Pekkala is a special prisoner: he was the Tsar's legendary special investigator. Pekkala, along with Kirov and Pekkala's estranged older brother Anton, is charged with investigating the murder of Tsar Nicholas and his family. He has a strong moral code without being a wimpy or goody-goody character and that makes him a very interesting character.

There are a lot of books written about the deaths of the Romanovs. If you have a particular interest in or have studied the subject (I have not), you may have to give the author a fair amount of artistic license because the point of the book is Pekkala's character and his investigation, not to be a novelization of historical facts. One thing marred my complete enjoyment of the book. Pekkala makes a mistake (I won't say what or where in the book because it would spoil it) that is completely at odds with everything that has been written about him in the rest of the book. Nevertheless, it is a very enjoyable historical thriller. It will be interesting to see what investigations Pekkala does in future books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars In the End, Eye of the Red Tsar was a major Disappointment, May 23, 2010
By 
Lael Prock (Mercer Island, Washington) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Other reviewers have mentioned the my main problem with this book so I won't consider it a spoiler alert. This book certainly started out well but gradually fell apart. It would have been an okay mystery read except for one thing, but it was a major thing and totally ruined the book for me. Pekkala was suppose to be this master investigator with a extraodinary memory. Yet, he is unable to istantly discern that the man who appears towards the end of the book is not the assassin Grodek who he help train and knew well and had even captured him after an attempt on the Tsar's life. Instead he instantly decided that this was Alexei the son of the Tsar, a young man that Pekkella was intimately familiar with. To me that plot line is very unrealistic, even silly and eventually the whole book becomes totally unsatisfying. There were a few other story threads and ploys that were improbably at best. Stalin spending time with Pekkella twice. The photographer being brought to the scene of the killing of the Tsar and his family just moments before they are killed and allowed to escape with his life. (So he could provide Pekkella with information for his investigation) It was clear that the book was the clue to the Tsar's riches but it seem to blow right over Pekkella the master investigator.

In my personal opinion this book cannot be compared with Martin Cruz Smith's series about Arkady Renko which I also read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive first novel!, March 12, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Sam Eastland has scored an impressive triumph in his first novel, Eye of the Red Tsar. I'm a big Romanov-fan, and Eye of the Red Tsar provided me with a periodic fix. Eastland mixes history with fiction to great effect. However, in order to enjoy this book, you have to keep in mind that this is a work of fiction. The murder of the royal family as Eastland writes it is not how we know it to have happened.

Opening in 1929, Pekkala finds himself a prisoner in Siberia. He has served 9 years of a 30 year sentence for Crimes Against the State. Pekkala was once the Emerald Eye, the personal investigator of Tsar Nicholas II. He was the only man that Nicholas II trusted. But after the Revolution, he finds himself living a solitary existence, marking trees for cutting. Most men don't live out the year. But Pekkala's survival is a testament to his mental and physical toughness. Commissar Kirov is sent to bring Pekkala back as the communist government has a job for him. The government wishes to discover what really happened to the Romanovs. There is also a possibility that at least one of them is still alive. More likely, they're also interested in what may have happened to the Romanov treasure. Kirov offers Pekkala his freedom at the end of the job, so the former investigator reluctantly signs on.

It doesn't take Pekkala long to get back into the routine of investigation. He seeks out clues, interviews witnesses, and tries to discover what happened to the royal family. But whoever had a hand in their murder is still trying to remain underground. Some witnesses to that fateful night in Ekaterinburg are still in danger. As Pekkala starts digging, his life is also threatened.

Aside from the plot, what makes Eye of the Red Tsar so satisfying is Eastland's wonderful prose. Alternating between the past and the present, you get the feeling that Eastland personally knew the Tsar. "The Tsar's narrowed eyes were hard to read. His expression was not unkind, but neither was it friendly. It seemed to hover between contentment and a desire to be somewhere else. More of a mask than a face, thought Pekkela." The Tsar is actually jealous of his humble investigator and the simple life he lived.

I read that Sam Eastland has already started on another Pekkala mystery. If this is going to be a series, I'm definitely on board.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super investigative frozen case, April 29, 2010
Before the Revolution in two steps, Tsar Nicholas Romanov trusted his brilliant Finnish born investigator Pekkala to solve impossible cases. However, in the Summer of 1917, the great detective became Prisoner 4745-P exiled to spend the rest of his life for crimes against the state in the harshest Siberian gulag.

Surviving in his icy forest more as a wily beast over the next decade, he remains with no hope of either going home to Finland or St. Petersburg. However in 1929, Stalin orders the Tsar's "Emerald Eye" brought to Moscow to investigate the murders of the Romanovs in Ekaterinburg. The Communist leaders wants to know who killed the Tsar and his family; who survived if any; and what happened to the Tsarist treasure?

Although a super investigative frozen case, the story line is in many ways a wonderful historical thriller as the audience learns plenty of what happened to the Tsarist family, the hero's back-story in Finland and on the train to Russia, and the salad days of Stalin's rule. Fast-paced throughout, readers will appreciate this fine tale as every Russian who knows anything understands the need to remain mute as death by assassination is better than the one way ticket to the gulag.

Harriet Klausner
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Had me turning the pages!, February 22, 2012
This review is from: Eye of the Red Tsar: A Novel of Suspense (Paperback)
I read this book in a matter of two days when I was flying recently and I loved it.

First off, historical fiction are some of my favorite works, especially when you can learn about an event or period. Second, this is a detective novel as much as anything else and you will be trying to guess what the end of the book will have. I can usually see the ending to mystery novels but Eastland does a good job of misleading the reader on several points so that you will be surprised a the end.

From the remote woods of Siberia, to a fake town erected to impress foreign media, to the abandoned mine shaft; this book really places the reader in the post-Revolution Soviet Union and the characters feel very authentic.

My only criticism would be that some of the dialogue seems forced. At some points, the author is clearly trying to inform the audience about something that happened and he does so through dialogue that just doesn't quite feel real...as if the characters are reading a history book or something.

Other than that, this is a book worth buying!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Historical Mystery than Suspense, July 19, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I would not call this book a suspense story or a thriller. Instead, it is a historical mystery. That isn't a negative, but if you are expecting a thrill ride you may be disappointed. If you want a steady-paced read that keeps your curiosity, then this book may be for you.

The story opens with a Pekkala, a prisoner of the Soviet prison system. He has been put out in the forests to mark trees for other prisoners to cut down. In virtual isolation, Pekkala has kept himself alive longer than other prisoners have survived out in the woods. Soon, an officer comes to summon Pekkala for help.

In his former life, Pekkala was a detective, working for the Russian tsar, Nicholai Romanov. Now, 10 years after the brutal murder of the entire Romanov family, Pekkala is asked to investigate their deaths and find their real killer. And, he is asked to follow up on rumors that one or more of the family may still be alive. I won't give away any plot spoilers, except to let you know that other than the Tsar, Stalin is one of the characters in the book.

Eastland's pacing for the story is comfortable. Instead of chapters, there are breaks in the text, with the storyline alternating between current events and events from Pekkala's past. The author cleverly uses these flashbacks to give us background and insight on the main characters without giving the reader a "data dump." This keeps the story moving forward at a steady pace.

I gave the book only 4 stars because I found myself still somewhat distant from the main character at the end of the book. Usually by the half or three-quarter mark I want to be wound up in the protagonist's thoughts or feelings so much that I'm rooting for him or her. I didn't dislike Pekkala, but after 250+ pages he's still a mystery to me. Perhaps that's a good thing, since the author is working on a second novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Feast, June 15, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have mixed feelings about "The Red Tsar." Simply as a reader, I love this book and would give it five stars if it was pure fiction.

Sam Eastland is a gifted storyteller....not just a writer, but a teller of stories. The scenes and characters in this book truly come to life, and the quick pace of the prose drove me through a gamut of emotions (it's been a long time since I've shed tears coming up to the last few pages of a book). Subject-wise, this book is also right up my alley, as well, and it provides an appetizing and satisfying feast of period culture.

Pekkala, the main character in this story, is a detective who ends up (begrudgingly, in one case) assisting both the last Tsar, and the men that overthrew him. His life takes him from Russian occupied Finland to work in the Tsar's regiment, where he quickly earns the trust of Nicholas II. When fortunes turn for the doomed imperial family, Pekkala tries to remain at the Tsar's side but ends up in the hands of the Bolsheviks, and eventually to exile in far northern Siberia. Stalin summons him away from exile when it becomes expedient for the new government to put all the questions about the suspected end of the Romanovs to rest (you may realize that in fact, the Soviet government never wavered as to their report about what happened to the tsar and his family: they were shot while being held captive. But if anyone could have kept their countrymen quiet about any alternative theories, Stalin and his minions could, so it doesn't take too much artistic license to allow a story like Eastland's to take place). Between the time of the end of his exile and the end of the book, Eastland takes his main character through situations and contacts with other colorful characters that twist and turn as much as a good "24" episode. ( You know, one of those ones in which we find out one of Jack Bauer's most trusted colleagues since the beginning of the season is a high ranking member of whatever terrorist group he happens to be chasing. Without the high tech gear, of course, since this book does take place in 1930s Russia, not in the US in the 21st century. )

The character of Josef Stalin is quite peripheral to the novel....although there is a hint that in the next Pekkala story, "The Red Coffin", Uncle Joe might play a greater role. And that's where my only misgivings come in. Some people say Napoleon was as evil as some of the henchmen of the 20th century, but we tend to think of him in fairly generic former-emperor-brilliant-militarist terms these days. We are nowhere near the point where someone can include Adolf Hitler as a character in a novel and leave out some of the nastier facts about what he was doing during the 1930s and 1940s. And I don't know if we have really reached the point where Stalin can be portrayed as a wise and relatively harmless figure without causing some discomfort in some readers...for example, me.

All the same, the book is a good, exciting read, and seems pretty accurate in its portrayal of Russian imperial and Soviet culture during the times covered. I will definitely pick up the next one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good detective yarn, somewhat spoiled by the ending, April 12, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A favorite trusted member of Tsar Nichola's Finnish guards, Pekkala, is elevated to the post of the highest detective just prior to the Russian revolution and became known as the legendary Emerald Eye. He was given unlimited powers, even including placing the Tsar himself under arrest, if need be.

As you might expect, after the Revolution he is taken into custody and eventually exiled to Siberia. Unexpectedly he is later called back to duty by Stalin and ordered to investigate the final fate of Tsar Nicholas and his family, with the assistance of his long-lost brother and a young Commissar. Being a detective story, the mystery is ultimately solved, in what seemed to be a satisfactory manner.

Since the book's jacket indicates that the author is working on a second Pekkala novel, the author had to come up with a means to make certain that Pekkala continues working as a detective for Stalin once he has solved the mystery of the murders of the Romanovs. The writer found one, but I found it to be totally unconvincing and contrived. Unfortunately to divulge more might spoil the story for other readers. In my opinion the author certainly has the talent to continue writing novels involving this type of main character, but I wonder whether he might have been better served Pekkala by ending his story in a more believable fashion and then simply creating another main character for his next novel.

Despite my problems with the ending, I would recommend this book for anyone with a love for detective novels or who has an interest in stories about the end of the Romanov dynasty and the early days of the Soviet Union.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tight Drama, March 30, 2010
By 
J B (Willamette Valley, OR) - See all my reviews
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Even though this is fictional, anything to do with the Romanovs grabs my attention, and I found this story a great combination of fact and fancy. I read it all in one afternoon and had a hard time putting it down to take care of my child! It was fast-paced with plenty of plot twists to keep me guessing and interested in what would happen next.

The three principal characters were well-developed, and the relationship between Inspector Pekkala and his brother Anton is fascinating as it unfolds. I appreciated the fact that there weren't any sex scenes or overly gory details as well.

It is not often that a contemporary author makes me want more, but I definitely do. Looking forward to the next Pekkala book by Eastland!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, Satisfying Mystery About The Romanov Assassination, March 28, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Eye of the Red Tsar is Sam Eastland's first novel featuring new protagonist Inspector Pekkala. Pekkala was once known as the Emerald Eye, Tsar Nicholas' right hand man, prior to the assassination of the Romanov family. Now thirteen years later, Pekkala has been exiled to prison by the Soviet regime; however, they need his help to solve a great mystery. As a premise of the story, the true account of the assassination of the Romanov's is in question as is the location of Nicholas' hidden treasure. The plot that unfolds takes Pekkala back to the scene to dig up the past and try to resolve the matter while finding the last Tsar's stash of riches. Some readers may not like the way the story is told as it moves between the present and the backstory of Pekkala's family life and how he became the Tsar's most trusted investigator. At times I found this a bit disruptive, but not enough to compromise my overall enjoyment. Eastland never spends more than 5-6 pages on backstory. However, it gives the pacing the feel of a movie with a lot of flashbacks. On the other hand, Eastland uses this for the majority of his character development. Readers learn much more from the backstory how Pekkala became the man that he is. While I found the plot interesting, I never really felt like I connected with any of the characters. While this is not uncommon in the mystery/thriller genre, I thought it worth mentioning. All that being said, The Eye of the Red Tsar is a satisfying read although many will find it very formulaic. At less than 300 pages, it is ideal for something entertaining to take along on vacation or a long plane ride.

Overall: B-
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Eye of the Red Tsar: A Novel of Suspense
Eye of the Red Tsar: A Novel of Suspense by Sam Eastland (Paperback - January 25, 2011)
$15.00 $12.39
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.