After falling in love with the historical spy novels of Alan Furst I wondered if there was anything else out there I could read that would be in the same vein. It’d be great find thrilling a novel or two, preferable a series of them, set in Europe during the years leading up to or during the Second World War. According to Goodreads it looks like there’s some stuff that could fit the bill. But even with those helpful suggestions, I haven’t been actively looking for anything to supplement my passionate consumption of Alan Furst novels. Then, last Saturday afternoon while wandering the shelves at the public library I came across a copy of Archive 17: A Novel of Suspense by Sam Eastand. Intrigued by what I found, I proceeded to read the book’s jacket blurb. How could I resist a novel about a former Czarist special investigator who’s been “enlisted” by Stalin in 1939 to solve a twenty old mystery. Thinking that Archive 17 could be just the book I needed to satisfy my Alan Furst-like of craving I optimistically grabbed it. After whipping through it in mere days I knew I’d made the right decision.
From what I can tell, Archive 17 is the third book in the five book Inspector Pekkala series. In this particular book in the series, Pekkala has been ordered by Stalin to go undercover in a Soviet labor camp in hopes of finding the secret location of a long-lost supply of gold that vanished during the early days of the Russian Civil War. Returning to the infamous Gulag camp of Borodok where he was once a prisoner, Pekkala must gain the confidence of a small band of imprisoned diehard Czarists who he thinks will lead him to the gold. But to do so, he must first survive not only harshness of Siberia but also the camp’s brutal commander and its cut-throat inmates. Of course, with Stalin as your overlord, your safety and well-being are never assured.
Archive 17 is a lot of fun. I found it fast-paced, smart and entertaining. If you’re an Alan Furst fan like me, you’ll have an enjoyable time reading this second book in Eastland’s series. Those same fans will probably also agree that Inspector Pekkala makes a fine Furstian hero: early middle-aged, intelligent, an ethnic outsider (he’s a Finn in the Russian-dominated USSR), resourceful, heroic without being reckless and honorable. Therefore, with all that in mind look for more of Eastland’s Inspector Pekkala’s novels to be featured on my blog.