The Red Coffin

Written by Sam Eastland
Review by Mike Ashworth

It is 1939, and the Soviet Union is desperately trying to prepare for an anticipated war against Nazi Germany. When Nagorski, the designer of the top secret T 34 tank, ‘the steel coffin’, is found dead, buried in the mud beneath the body of his creation, Stalin sends Inspector Pekkala to investigate. Was it a tragic accident, or was he murdered by a mysterious group called the White Guild, who are trying to sell the secrets of the tank to Germany? As a former investigator for the tsar, Pekkala has suffered in the notorious gulags, and conscious of the likely cost of failure, he must swiftly find answers.

This is the second in what promises to be a series of Inspector Pekkala novels. The paranoia and terror of the time are effectively invoked, acting as a counterpoint to the steady detective work which leads up to a satisfying dénouement in a forest near the Polish border. The major characters are well formed; the plot is realistic and unfolds naturally. Fans of the genre will find this an enjoyable read. It will keep you entertained and intrigued to the end. Recommended.