Review: The Red Moth – Sam Eastland

The Red Moth Sam EastlandInspector Pekkala 4

My version: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction Soviet Union
Faber and Faber
First published: 2013, this version in 2014

From the cover:

Summer, 1941. Russia has been invaded.

As Hitler’s forces roll into Russia, annihilating the Read Army divisions in its path, a lone German scout plane is forced down. Contained within the briefcase of its passenger, is a painting of a ‘Hyalophora Cecropia,’ a Red Moth.

Only Stalin suspects that the picture might be more significant than it appears, and he sends Inspector Pekkala to investigate the true meaning of the Red Moth.

A Pekkala soon discovers, the real treasure that is being sought is a secret and highly prized possession of the Romanov’s, once considered to be the eighth Wonder of the World.

But saving the Tsar’s treasure may cost Pekkala more than he realises. As his mission takes him deep into enemy lines, could this be the one case that Pekkala can’t win?

The Inspector Pekkala series have been getting better and better as it goes on – as it should – and The Red Moth is a quite superb read. It is, quite possibly, the best of the series so far (I’m reading them in series order, this is where I’m at). I was hanging on each and every word and it had me thoroughly spell-bound all the way from start to cliff-hanged finish.

The whole of the ‘current’ events and Pekkala’s rememberances of Catherine’s Palace at St. Petersburg, is absolutely fascinating, very well recounted and evoked. I could really almost picture myself walking into the wonderous rooms as they surely must have been in their Imperial pomp and spectacular prime.

The figure of Stalin as portrayed here, is still a little worrying. He’s not as much a comedy turn as he was previously, and does come over a little more threatening, even to Pekkala, but he doesn’t conform to the murderous bastard, usurper of the Revolution that we’ve come to believe as the accepted image. I don’t know why Paul/Sam has chosen to downplay the classical Stalin role, I really hope it isn’t an attempt at reconciliation, as that would be a hard call for someone who deliberately murdered (had murdered) around 20 million of his own countrymen.

That aside, the whole ‘Red,’ Inspector Pekkala series is moving on up there to rank alongside David Downing’s Station and Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels. Really, they’re that good.

There’s also, as an added bonus, a very strong link to Philip Kerr’s The Other Side of Silence, which I can’t really go into much detail, for fear of giving the plot away.

You can buy The Red Moth, from

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