Stalin’s most trusted secret agent, the legendary Inspector Pekkala, is on his deadliest mission—one that could save his country . . . or plunge it into the abyss.
It is 1939. Russia teeters on the verge of war with Germany. It is also on the brink of bankruptcy. To preserve his regime, Stalin orders a search for the legendary missing gold of Tsar Nicholas II. For this task, he chooses Pekkala, the former investigator for the Tsar. To accomplish his mission, Pekkala will go undercover, returning to Siberia and the nightmare of his own past, where he was once a prisoner in the notorious Gulag known as Borodok.
Pekkala must infiltrate a gang of convicts still loyal to the Tsar who, it is rumored, know the whereabouts of the precious gold. He soon learns that the best-kept secrets are those that no one even knows exist.
In the brutal frozen fortress where his survival once made him a myth, he begins to unravel the true identity of a murdered inmate, whose own mission to Siberia has lain buried for years deep within the mysterious Archive 17, where long-lost files obscure a shocking conspiracy that could decide the future of the Soviet Union itself. As more people die around him, Pekkala must decide where his true loyalties lie, or else take his place among the dead.
With the superb research and stunning suspense that are his trademarks, Sam Eastland delivers his most powerful Pekkala novel yet—the best in a mystery series riveting readers and reviewers alike.
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.
Shortly after midnight on July 17, 1918, the imprisoned family of Tsar Nicholas Romanov was awakened and led down to the basement of the Ipatiev house. There they were summarily executed. Their bodies were hidden away, the location a secret of the Soviet state. A decade later, Pekkala, once the most trusted secret agent of the Romanovs, is now Prisoner 4745-P, banished to a forest on the outskirts of humanity. But the state needs Pekkala one last time. His mission: catch the assassins who slaughtered the Romanovs, locate the royal child rumored to be alive, and give Stalin the international coup he craves. Find the bodies, Pekkala is told, and you will find your freedom.
In a land of uneasy alliances and lethal treachery, pursuing clues that have eluded everyone, Pekkala is thrust into the past where he once reigned. There he will meet the man who betrayed him and the woman he loved and lost in the fires of rebellion—and uncover a secret so shocking that it will shake to its core the land he loves.