Shadow Pass

Shadow Pass

by Sam Eastland


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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?
In the shadows of one of history’s most notorious regimes, Pekkala is on a collision course with not only the Soviet secret police but the USSR’s deadliest military secrets. For what he’s about to unearth could put Stalin and his Communist state under for good—and bury Pekkala with them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553593242
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/14/2012
Series: Inspector Pekkala Series , #2
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,098,662
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Sam Eastland is the author of Eye of the Red Tsar. He is the grandson of a London Police detective who served in Scotland Yard’s famous “Ghost Squad” during the 1940s. He lives in the United States and Great Britain and is currently working on his next novel.

Read an Excerpt

As the motorcycle crested the hill, sunlight winked off the goggles of the rider. Against the chill of early spring, he wore a double-breasted leather coat and a leather flying cap which buckled under his chin.

He had been on the road for three days, stopping only to buy fuel along the way. His saddlebags were filled with tins of food he'd brought from home.

At night, he did not stay in any town, but wheeled his motorcycle in among the trees. It was a new machine, a Zundapp K500, with a pressed-steel frame and girder forks. Normally he could never have afforded it, but this trip alone would pay for everything, and more besides. He thought about that as he sat there alone in the woods, eating cold soup from a can.

Before camouflaging the motorcycle with fallen branches, he wiped the dust from its sprung leather seat and the large teardrop-shaped fuel tank. He spat on every scratch he found and rubbed it with his sleeve.

The man slept on the ground, wrapped in an oilcloth sheet, without the comfort of a fire or even a cigarette. The smell of smoke might give away his location, and he could not afford to take the risk.

Sometimes, he was awakened by the rumble of Polish Army trucks passing by on the road. None of them stopped. Once he heard a crashing in among the trees. He drew a revolver from his coat and sat up just as a stag passed a few paces away, barely visible, as if the shadows themselves had come to life. For the rest of the night, the man did not sleep. Tormented by childhood nightmares of human shapes with antlers sprouting from their heads, he wanted only to be gone from this country. Ever since he crossed the German border into Poland, he had been afraid, although no one who saw him would ever have realized it. This was not the first time he had been on such a journey, and he knew from experience that his fear would not leave him until he was back among his own people again.

On the third day, he crossed into the Soviet Union at a lonely border checkpoint manned by one Polish soldier and one Russian soldier, neither of whom could speak the other's language. Both men came out to admire his motorcycle. "Zundapp," they crooned softly, as if saying the name of a loved one, and the man gritted his teeth while they ran their hands over the chrome.

A few minutes after leaving the checkpoint, he pulled over to the side of the road and raised the goggles to his forehead, revealing two pale moons of skin where the road dust had not settled on his face. Shielding his eyes with one hand, he looked out over the rolling countryside. The fields were plowed and muddy, seeds of rye and barley still sleeping in the ground. Thin feathers of smoke rose from the chimneys of solitary farmhouses, their slate roofs patched with luminous green moss.

The man wondered what the inhabitants of those houses might do if they knew their way of life would soon end. Even if they did know, he told himself, they would probably just carry on as they had always done, placing their faith in miracles. That, he thought, is precisely why they deserve to be extinct. The task he had come here to accomplish would bring that moment closer. After today, there would be nothing they could do to stop it. Then he wiped the fingerprints of the border guards off his handlebars and continued on his way.

He was close to the rendezvous point, racing along deserted roads, through patches of mist which clung to the hollows like ink diffusing in water. The words of half-remembered songs escaped his lips. Otherwise he did not speak, as if he were alone upon the earth. Driving out across that empty countryside, that was how he felt himself to be.

At last he came to the place he had been looking for. It was an abandoned farmhouse, roof sagging like the back of an old horse. Turning off the road, he drove the Zundapp through an opening in the stone wall which ringed the farmyard. Overgrown trees, sheathed with ivy, ringed the house. A flock of crows scattered from their branches, their ghostly shapes reflected in the puddles.

When he cut the engine, silence descended upon him. Removing his gauntlets, he scratched at the dried mud which had spattered his chin. It flaked away like scabs, revealing a week's growth of stubble beneath.

Shutters hung loose and rotten on the windows of the farmhouse. The door had been kicked in and lay flat on the floor inside the house. Dandelions grew between cracks in the floorboards.

He set the Zundapp on its kickstand, drew his gun, and stepped cautiously into the house. Holding the revolver down by his side, he trod across the creaking floorboards. Gray light filtered through the slits between the shutters. In the fireplace, a pair of dragon-headed andirons scowled at him as he walked by.

"There you are," said a voice.

The Zundapp rider flinched, but he did not raise the gun. He stood still, scanning the shadows. Then he spotted a man, sitting at a table in the next room, which had once been a kitchen. The stranger smiled, raised one hand and moved it slowly back and forth. "Nice motorcycle," he said.

The rider put away his gun and stepped into the kitchen.

"Right on time," said the man. Set on the table in front of him was a Tokarev automatic pistol and two small metal cups, each one no bigger than an eggshell. Beside the cups stood an unopened bottle of Georgian Ustashi vodka, a blue-green color from the steppe grass used to flavor it. The man had placed a second chair on the other side of the table so that the rider would have a place to sit. "How was your trip?" asked the man.

"Do you have it?" said the rider.

"Of course." The man reached into his coat and pulled out a bundle of documents which had been rolled up like a newspaper. He let them fall with a slap onto the table, raising a tiny cloud of dust from the dirty wooden surface.

"That's everything?" asked the rider.

The man patted the bundle reassuringly. "Full operational schematics for the entire Konstantin Project."

The rider put one foot on the chair and rolled up his trouser leg. Taped to his calf was a leather envelope. The man removed the tape, swearing quietly as it tore away the hair on his leg. Then he removed a stack of money from the envelope and laid it on the table. "Count it," said the Zundapp rider.

Obligingly, the man counted the money, walking the tips of his fingers through the bills.

Somewhere above them, in the rafters of the house, starlings trilled and clicked their beaks.

When the man had finished counting, he filled the two small cups with vodka and lifted one of them. "On behalf of the White Guild, I would like to thank you. A toast to the Guild and to the downfall of Communism!"

The rider did not reach for his cup. "Are we finished here?" he asked.

"Yes!" The man knocked back his vodka, then reached for the second cup, raised it in salute, and drank that, too. "I think we are finished."

The rider reached across and picked up the documents. As he tucked the bundle into the inside pocket of his coat, he paused to look around the room. He studied the canopies of spiderwebs, the puckered wallpaper, and the cracks which crazed the ceiling like the growth lines on a skull. You will be home soon, he thought. Then you can forget this ever happened.

"Would you care for a smoke?" asked the man. He laid a cigarette case on the table and set a brass lighter on top.

The rider stared at him, almost as if he knew this man from someplace before but could not remember where. "I should be going," he said.

The man smiled. "Maybe next time."

The rider turned away and started walking back towards his motorcycle.

He had gone only three paces when the man snatched up his Tokarev pistol, squinted down the line of his outstretched arm, and without getting up from the table, shot the rider in the back of the head. The bullet tore through the rider's skull and a piece of his forehead skittered away across the floor. He dropped to the ground like a puppet whose strings had been cut.

Now the man rose to his feet. He came out from behind the table and rolled the corpse over with his boot. The rider's arm swung out and his knuckles struck against the floor. The man bent down and removed the documents from the rider's pocket.

"You'll drink now, you fascist son of a bitch," he said. Then he took the bottle of vodka and emptied it out over the rider, soaking his head and shoulders and pouring a stream along the length of his legs. When the bottle was empty, he threw it away across the room. The heavy glass slammed against a rotten wall but did not break.

The man stashed the money and the documents in his pocket. Then he gathered up his gun, his little cups, and his box of cigarettes. On his way out of the house, he spun the metal wheel of his lighter and when the fire jumped up from the wick, he dropped the lighter on top of the dead man. The alcohol burst into flames with a sound like a curtain billowing in the wind.

The man walked out into the farmyard and stood before the motorcycle, trailing his fingers over the Zundapp name emblazoned on the fuel tank. Then he straddled the motorcycle and lifted the helmet and goggles from the place where they hung on the handlebars. He put on the helmet and settled the goggles over his eyes. The heat of the dead man's body was still in the leather eye pads. Kick-starting the motorcycle, he drove out onto the road and the Zundapp snarled as he shifted through the gears.

Behind him, already in the distance, a mushroom cloud of smoke rose from the blazing ruins of the farmhouse.

Officially, the Borodino restaurant, located in a quiet street just off the Bolotnaya Square in Moscow, was open to the public. Unofficially, the owner and headwaiter, a gaunt-faced man named Chicherin, would size up whoever came through the front door, its frosted glass panes decorated with a pattern of ivy leaves. Then Chicherin would either offer the patrons a table or direct them down a narrow, unlit corridor to what they assumed was a second dining room on the other side of the door. This would take them directly into an alley at the side of the restaurant. By the time they realized what had happened, the door would have locked automatically behind them. If the patrons still refused to take the hint and chose to come back into the restaurant, they would be confronted by the bartender, a former Greek wrestler named Niarchos, and ejected from the premises.

On a dreary afternoon in March, with clumps of dirty snow still clinging to the sunless corners of the city, a young man in a military uniform entered the Borodino. He was tall, with a narrow face, rosy cheeks, and a look of permanent curiosity. His smartly tailored gymnastyrka tunic fitted closely to his shoulders and his waist. He wore blue dress trousers with a red line of piping down the outside and knee-length black boots which glowed with a fresh coat of polish.

Chicherin scanned the uniform for any sign of elevated rank. Anything below the rank of captain was enough to qualify a soldier for a trip down the corridor to what Chicherin liked to call the Enchanted Grotto. Not only did this young man have no rank, he was not even wearing any insignia to denote his branch of service.

Chicherin was disgusted, but he smiled and said, "Good day," lowering his head slightly but not taking his eyes off the young man.

"Good day to you," came the reply. The man looked around at the full tables, admiring the plates of food. "Ah," he sighed. "Shashlik." He gestured towards a plate of fluffy white rice, on which a waiter was placing cubes of roast lamb, onions, and green peppers, carefully sliding them from the skewer on which they had been grilled. "Has the lamb been soaked in red wine"—he sniffed at the steam which drifted past his face—"or is it pomegranate juice?"

Chicherin narrowed his eyes. "Are you looking for a table?"

The young man did not seem to hear. "And there," he pointed. "Salmon with dill and horseradish sauce."

"Yes, that's right." Chicherin took him gently by the arm and steered him down the corridor. "This way, please."

"Down there?" The young man squinted into the dark tunnel of the corridor.

"Yes, yes," Chicherin reassured him. "The Enchanted Grotto."

Obediently, the young man disappeared into the alley.

A moment later, Chicherin heard the reassuring clunk of the metal door locking shut. Then came the helpless rattle of the doorknob as the young man tried to get back in.

Usually people took the hint, and Chicherin never saw them again. This time, however, when the young man reappeared less than a minute later, still smiling innocently, Chicherin nodded to Niarchos.

Niarchos was smearing a grubby-looking rag inside glasses used for serving tea. When he caught Chicherin's eye, he raised his head with a short, abrupt movement, like a horse trying to shake off its bridle. Then, very carefully, he set down the glass he had been polishing and came out from behind the bar.

"There seems to be some kind of mistake," said the young man. "My name is Kirov, and—"

"You should go," Niarchos interrupted. The Greek resented having to come out from behind the bar and lose the pleasant flow of daydreams as he mindlessly polished glasses.

"I think—" Kirov attempted once more to explain.

"Yes, yes," hissed Chicherin, appearing suddenly beside him, the smile having evaporated from his face. "Some kind of mistake, you say. But the only mistake is your coming in here. Can't you see that this is not the place for you?" He glanced out over the tables, populated mostly by jowly, red-faced men with grizzled hair. Some wore olive-brown gabardine tunics bearing the ranks of senior commissars. Others had civilian clothes, of European cut and good-quality wool, so finely woven that it seemed to shimmer beneath the orchid-shaped light fixtures. Sitting among these officers and politicians were beautiful but bored-looking women, sipping smoke from cork-tipped cigarettes. "Listen," said Chicherin, "even if you could get a table here, I doubt you could afford the meal."

"But I have not come to eat," protested Kirov. "Besides, I do my own cooking, and it looks to me as if your chef relies too heavily on his sauces."

Chicherin's forehead crumpled in confusion. "So you are looking for a job?"

"No," replied the young man. "I am looking for Colonel Nagorski."

Chicherin's eyes widened. He glanced towards a table in the corner of the room where two men were eating lunch. Both of the men wore suits. One was shaved bald, and the great dome of his head looked like a sphere of pink granite resting on the starched white pedestal of his shirt collar. The other man had thick black hair combed straight back on his head. The sharp angle of his cheekbones was offset by a slightly pointed beard cut close against his chin. This made him look as if his face had been stretched over an inverted triangle of wood, so tightly that even the slightest expression might tear the flesh from his bones.

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Shadow Pass 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Rosareads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an Early Reviewers book. Shadow Pass is the second in a thriller series by Sam Eastland. It takes place in Stalinist Russia with backstory involving Tsar Nicholas and his family and the Russian Revolution.I enjoyed the first book and found this one to be even better than the first because the writing is tighter and more even. The "hero" is Inspector Pekkala who was appointed by the Tsar as his special security intelligence officer with privilege above all other security officials. Ending up in Siberia following the Revolution, Pekkala was brought back to Moscow by Stalin to resume his security role. The book is face paced and suspenseful beginning to end.
owlie13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a sucker for fiction/non-fiction about Russia, and was thrilled when I received this through the Early Reviewers Program. When I saw it was book 2 of a series, I immediately purchased and read the first book, Eye of the Red Tsar. I'm happy to say that Shadow Pass follows that book nicely and was equally well-written. In Shadow Pass, Inspector Pekkala is firmly entrenched in the employ of Josef Stalin. The title refers to a letter Pekkala carries which entitles him to go anywhere, ask any question and do anything without restraint or interference. He is called upon to solve the murder of the inventor of a new top secret weapon. The device of inserting memories of Pekkala's time with the Tsar and Tsarina is again used very effectively. Overall, I highly recommend the book. I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series.
loralu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second installment thrilled me almost as much as the first. I was unable to put it down and found myself wondering quite frequently how close to the truth the author might be writing. (I think I might have to search out a historical novel to see!) The author once again writes masterfully, spinning side notes of history into the novel with ease. It has been wonderful to watch the character grow and I now understand more about something which bothered me at the ending in the first book. I am looking forward to seeing how the character continues to grow in the next installment.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Three stars for atmosphere. Even though the callow corruption and everyday betrayals are laid on a bit thick, it makes the very political situation in Stalinist Russia a character all by itself. I can't even imagine living in a state like that where your every innocuous word or action can be cause for arrest. Where consistency of law is a joke. Where liberty is unknown. Once again the Lubyanka and Siberian prison camps loom large. Chilling.Minus two stars for a lame duck plot. Spoilers engaged people.Konstantin? Really? Because his mommy and daddy were getting a divorce? Really? That's the best Eastland could come up with? A secret military weapons facility, bitter rivals, the NKVD, Stalin's paranoia, the Germans, the mysterious White Guild and we get teenaged angst? Oh man. What a disappointment. No wonder we had to have a tertiary plot involving the magical weapon's theft. I liked how that culprit was revealed with just enough information for the reader to put it together herself. A little ah-ha moment to savor. Too bad setting up Kirov's marksmanship was so clumsy by comparison. I also love how when Stalin tries to send in an Army commander to help recapture the weapon, he forgets that he's had the man liquidated and needs to be reminded. If it weren't for Stalin's ruthless paranoia, I think WW2 would have ended quite differently. Virtually all of the competent and experienced people serving the state were dead or imprisoned. Makes it hard to win wars that way.While the flashbacks to his time in the Tsar's service were interesting, I'm not sure they didn't come too thick and fast. Vignettes about Alexandra, Rasputin and Alexei sprinkled in the action took us out of the plot itself and somehow indicates weakness there. As if Eastland knew we wouldn't stay interested for long and needed something to divert us. They are great for fleshing out Pekkala though, who thankfully, was less of a superhero in this one. At the end of the book there's a set up for the next one which will probably prove to be the most harrowing for him, both psychologically and physically - Stalin sends him back to the work camp near where he was imprisoned. It's the worst of the bunch. Should be cringe-worthy.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Formerly a special investigator for the Tsar, Pekkala now fulfills the same function in Stalin's government. He and his assistant, Kirov, operate outside the boundaries that define other agencies. A discreet inquiry into the sudden death of the developer of a top secret weapon is just the sort of investigation that requires Pekkala's skills.I loved the first three quarters of the book -- the setting, the characters, and the history. I was disappointed with its ending. While investigating the murder, Pekkala discovered a larger conspiracy. The conspiracy plot was less cohesive than the murder plot. Although the killer was fairly obvious, the motive and characters were interesting enough to compensate for this. Eventually the conspiracy plot overshadowed the murder plot, to the detriment of the murder plot. I would have enjoyed the book more if there had been more emphasis on the motive for the murder, the psychological profile of the suspects, and the forensic examination of the victim and crime scene. The first book in the series spent some time setting up Pekkala with a background in osteology. I had hoped that this would be a defining characteristic of this series, and I was disappointed that it didn't figure more in this book.Although this is the second book in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. The author provides some background information from the first book, but avoids spoilers. There is a good bit of gore in the book, but it leans toward the clinical rather than the sensational. If you can handle the visuals on shows like CSI and Bones, you'll probably be OK with the descriptions in this book.This review is based on an advanced reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.
jastbrown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is Sam Eastland's second novel.. and his second Inspector Pekkala novel. For those readers hoping that his second story will measure up to his first, you can take a deep breath.. it does. The only thing that's lacking is the complete surprise as Eastland came out of nowhere, captivating us with his 'Eye of the Red Tsar'.He's no longer working for the Romanovs. He keeps his emerald 'eye'.. his shadow pass giving him almost unlimited power to investigate, and his unique position at the right hand of the throne of Russia. Only now instead of reporting to the almost benevolent in comparison Tsar Nicholas, he answers to the dark prince himself.. Josef Stalin!We find out more about Pekkala's lost love from the first story. Pekkala's assistant proves himself ever more valuable to him. There are frequent flashbacks to the Romanov era as the story circles and concentrates itself finally on Stalin's war machinery and the politics of the early twentieth century Soviet Union. It all works! Mr. Eastland seems to be very knowledgeable about what he writes.. at least to this layman. In Shadow Pass we find an interesting story only slightly less polished than a Martin Cruz Smith novel, but mining the same vein.I moved Sam Eastland onto my short list of authors, after his first book. The writers whose books I'll buy sight unseen, without reading synopses or reviews. I have a feeling he's going to be on that list for a long time!
lchav52 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inspector Pekkala was once the legendary "Emerald Eye" of Tsar Nicholas Romanov of Imperial Russia, answerable only to the Tsar. With the Revolution and murder of the Imperial family, Pekkala found himself in the slow death of Siberian exile. In the previous book, Pekkala is resurrected by Stalin himself, and now he carries the extremely rare "Shadow Pass," that identifies him as working directly for the dictator, untouchable - until Stalin has no more use for him. Pekkala has come full circle.Sent by Stalin to a secret installation where a purported wonder weapon is being developed, Pekkala must investigate the murder of its inventor-director. War with Hitler's Germany looms on the horizon, and the weapon will figure largely in the Russian defense. The murder mystery is entwined with a thriller-suspense plot that could set off the conflict long before Russia is prepared.Once again, Eastland has written an engrossing book about a fascinating period. As one follows Pekkala and his assistant, Major Kirov, the atmosphere of uncertainty and fear during Stalin's purges, the anticipated midnight knock, the struggle of the Russian people to survive in a time when the smallest comment could send one to his death is very real. I have enjoyed both of these, and look forward to more.
mdexter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shadow Pass by Sam Eastland is a unique thriller. As implausible as it may seem, Inspector Pekkala survives two masters in Stalinist Russia ¿ Tsar Nicholas and Stalin himself. For the Tsar, he became the Emerald Eye, the trustworthy inspector who faithfully served the tsar until the bitter end. Then miraculously, Stalin brings him back from Siberia to become his trusted inspector, too. Most of this was laid out in Eastland¿s first Pekkala thriller, Eye of the Red Tsar, but also a feature of this novel. In the first novel, Stalin wants Pekkala to solve the mystery of the tsar¿s murder. In this novel, Pekkala must get to the bottom of the murder of the inventor of a wonder-weapon on the eve of World War II.As thrillers go, Shadow Pass is a page-turner. The setting in Stalinist Russia is interesting and unusual. However, it is simply beyond belief that anyone could be the right-hand man of both Tsar Nicholas and Stalin. Nonetheless, within its genre, Eastland makes the story work and Shadow Pass is a quick and entertaining read.
slarsoncollins on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received a review copy of this book. While the plot of the story was interesting enough and seemed well researched, I found the constant bouncing back and forth between "current" time and the main character's history a bit distracting. Additionally, roughly 2/3 of the way through the book I realized I really didn't care about any of the characters. That didnt' change in the last 1/3.
Doondeck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some interesting characters in this sequel to The Eye of the Tsar. It still stretches the imagination to believe anyone of honorable moral standing would work for Stalin. Also, I thought there was an overuse of flashbacks.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Line: As the motorcycle crested the hill, sunlight winked off the goggles of the rider.Deep in the Russian countryside, rogue genius Colonel Rolan Nagorski is working on a 30-ton killing machine in an atmosphere of absolute secrecy. Stalin has been watching Hitler closely, and he is depending upon Nagorski to perfect and deliver this deadly weapon. When Nagorski's body is found next to his invention, the T-34, only the most innocent believe that his death was an accident.Once Tsar Nicholas II's most trusted investigator, Inspector Pekkala is summoned by Stalin to find out who murdered Nagorski... and who is responsible for putting his battle plans in jeopardy.Shadow Pass (published in other countries as The Red Coffin) is an excellent follow-up to Eye of the Red Tsar. It's difficult to fathom how one man could possibly be the Tsar's right-hand man, spend several years in a gulag in Siberia, and then become the man Stalin sends out on his toughest assignments, but Pekkala is known to search for one thing only-- the Truth-- wherever it may lead him. Eastland's research into both Tsarist and Stalinist Russia is excellent and adds immeasurably to the story.Another bonus in this second book is that Pekkala's backstory is fleshed out more, making the "mystery man" and his actions more understandable. Do you need to read the first book in the series in order to understand the second? Not really, but both are excellent, fast-paced books with no extra filler. There's no need to deprive yourself of what's rapidly turning into an excellent historical mystery series.
macabr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the second book to feature Inspector Pekkala, history has moved forward nearly ten years. In THE EYE OF THE RED TSAR, Inspector Pekkala is assigned a case that he is uniquely able to investigate. Pekkala had been the eyes and ears of Tsar Nicholas II. As the tsar¿s chief spy, Pekkala was known by the badge given to him by Nicholas, a badge describes as an emerald eye. Pekkala¿s loyalty to the tsar earned his a death sentence in Siberia but Pekkala survives and finds himself called upon by Stalin to defend Russia by working for the new government.In THE EYE OF THE RED TSAR, Stalin needs Pekkala to prove that all the members of the Romanov family are dead and, incidentally, Stalin wants Pekkala to find a rumored fortune in gold hidden by the royal family. The new communist government cannot risk being toppled by rumors that the Romanovs are waiting to come back and assume the role taken from them. Pekkala is successful and Stalin lets him live his life, loyal to Russia if not to the Soviet Union.SHADOW PASS continues Pekkala¿s story in 1938 or 1939. Stalin needs Pekkala because there are rumors that the plans for a tank that can guarantee Russia¿s military success against any enemy are being offered to Germany. The chief suspect in the possible negotiations is Colonel Nagorski, the genius who created the tank known as T-34. Stalin sends Pekkala to the secret facility where the tank is being assembled. Nagorski has proceeded with the belief that the left hand shouldn¿t know what the right hand is doing but when Nagorski is killed, there is great concern that someone else is working for the Germans and T-34 will be used against Russia by Germany.Stalin trusts no one but he needs Pekkala. He recognizes the inspector¿s commitment to the safety of his country even if he doesn¿t have a commitment to the man who is strengthening his control by the mass arrests of over a million people in eighteen months. Stalin¿s fear that T-34 could be used against the Soviet Union is so strong that he gives Pekkala a Shadow Pass. An extra page has been inserted in Pekkala¿s pass book, the book of the details of Pekkala¿s life. ¿THE PERSON IDENTIFIED IN THIS DOCUMENT IS ACTING UNDER THE DIRECT ORDERS OF COMRADE STALIN. DO NOT QUESTION HIM OR DETAIN HIM¿.¿ Fewer than a dozen of these passes had be issued. A man could do what he wanted without anyone having the authority to question him. With the Shadow pass, there would be no secrets at the facility making the T-34. But knowing Stalin¿s secrets is the most dangerous position in which a man can find himself.As in THE EYE OF THE RED TSAR, there are frequent flashbacks to Pekkala¿s time with Tsar Nicholas. Pekkala is younger and, to the degree that he is capable, he is happier. His loyalty to the tsar and his loyalty to the state are as one. In SHADOW PASS, the flashbacks are a counterpoint to Pekkala¿s relationship with Stalin ¿ Stalin and Russia are not one.To describe Pekkala as enigmatic doesn¿t come close to creating an image of the character. As readers learned in EYE OF THE RED TSAR, Pekkala had gone to Russia to serve in a corps made up of men from Finland. Pekkala¿s honor brings him to the attention of Tsar Nicholas and Nicholas¿ honor brings him Pekkala¿s loyalty. Pekkala can do no less than serve his country even if, in so doing, he must follow the orders of Stalin.It isn¿t necessary to read EYE OF THE RED TSAR first but the second book can, perhaps, be better appreciated after reading the first. I recommend both books; Pekkala is a character worth following.
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stalin is in trouble. It¿s 1939, the Germans are at the door and Stalin¿s military is in shambles. On top of this one of his top military engineers has died, in an alleged accident. This engineer was on the brink of completing the mighty T-34, a tank with the strength and capability of being a monumental force in battle, an advantage the Soviets desperately need. Stalin calls in Pekkala, his special investigator, who he has armed with a ¿Shadow Pass¿, giving him the ultimate authority to look into this ¿accident¿. Pekkala, who was first introduced in the, Eye of the Red Tsar, is back. Tough, honest and determined, wading through the thorny, dangerous world of Soviet intrigue.This is a solid thriller. The characterizations are a bit shallow, the writing a bit light but Eastland is a good story-teller and keeps the pages turning. Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great fictional view of Russia in the late 30s
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KenCady More than 1 year ago
The Eye of the Red Tsar, the author's previous novel, carried a certain novelty that is now lost to the reader of the second book. Without it, Shadow Pass must stand as a novel on its own, and it barely rises. The story seems to meander aimlessly and characters come and go. The basic plot is of some interest, but re-making the acquaintance of Inspector Pekkala is the real treat of the novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TBAYFINN More than 1 year ago
i love the characters and the view of stalin's russia they way i'm sure it was.Its about time we had a finnish hero.
harstan More than 1 year ago
A German agent drives a motorcycle from his homeland into Poland. From there he enters Stalin's Russia where a man waits for him. He has the schematics for the Konstantin project, which he gives to the other party in exchange for money. The German leaves, but is shot from behind. Stalin is furious about the leak of T-34 a new weapon to use in the upcoming war with Germany. He orders former Prisoner 4745-P Inspector Pekkala to interrogate the person in charge inventor Colonel Rolan Nagorski. Pekkala concludes that the Colonel is innocent, but someone inside committed treason and must be found before further leaks occur. However, before he can dig deeper, someone murders Nagorski. A raging Stalin wants the killer caught immediately, but Pekkala knows he must not work in haste to insure the seditious murder is caught before Internal Affairs Commissar Major Lysenkova further muddies up the case, probably on purpose. The second Stalinist era historical police procedural (see Eye of the Red Tsar) enables the reader to look deeply at the paranoid Russian leader who saw assassins everywhere; leading to his killing millions as enemies of the state. Pekkala is an honorable courageous person who knows his Stalin-sanctioned investigation into anyone is paramount to official suicide, but his love for his Mother Russia has him carry out his mission. Shadow Pass is a terrific 1930s whodunit enhanced by flashbacks to when Pekkala was the Tsar's top investigator. Harriet Klausner