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Stalin's Gold by Mark Ellis
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Stalin's Gold (2015)

by Mark Ellis

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This isn't really the type of book I usually go after. I prefer more adventure, racing across the globe, finding lost treasure. In this book they are trying to find some lost gold, just not some ancient treasure, well it is from the beginning ancient, but that’s beside the point. Right now it’s Stalin’s gold that someone has managed to take and Stalin wants it back and when he want something…he really does everything to get it back. Throw in the British police force and some bad Russian villains and, of course, the people that have the gold then you have the book Stalin’s Gold.

Stalin’s Gold is Mark Ellis second book and the sequel to Princes Gate which I haven’t read and sometimes you feel like you missing something when you jump in and read a book in a series, but I had no problem getting into the story. There were some hints about the first book, but it didn’t bother me at all. Frank Merlin is the main character in this book and I got Foyle's War (tv-show) vibes about him. For just like Foyles he is a police that is denied to serve in the war because they need him in the force which didn’t make him happy. He’s an ordinary man, widower, that is dating a Polish girl and because of that, he gets involved in the case when a friend to her brother disappear.

It’s very well written, the only problem I had from time to time was keeping track of all the characters which got a little tougher because of all the Russian and Polish name. It’s a bit hard to read a book when you suddenly see a name you can’t place. But in the end, it got clearer and the book wrapped up nicely and I will probably in the future both read more books by Mark Ellis and read the first one about Frank Merlin.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a free copy for an honest review! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Dec 10, 2017 |
This isn’t really the type of book I usually go after. I prefer more adventure, racing across the globe, finding lost treasure. In this book they are trying to find some lost gold, just not some ancient treasure, well it is from the beginning ancient, but that’s beside the point. Right now it’s Stalin’s gold that someone has managed to take and Stalin wants it back and when he want something…he really does everything to get it back. Throw in the British police force and some bad Russian villains and, of course, the people that have the gold then you have the book Stalin’s Gold.

Stalin’s Gold is Mark Ellis second book and the sequel to Princes Gate which I haven’t read and sometimes you feel like you missing something when you jump in and read a book in a series, but I had no problem getting into the story. There were some hints about the first book, but it didn’t bother me at all. Frank Merlin is the main character in this book and I got Foyle's War (tv-show) vibes about him. For just like Foyles he is a police that is denied to serve in the war because they need him in the force which didn’t make him happy. He’s an ordinary man, widower, that is dating a Polish girl and because of that, he gets involved in the case when a friend to her brother disappear.

It’s very well written, the only problem I had from time to time was keeping track of all the characters which got a little tougher because of all the Russian and Polish name. It’s a bit hard to read a book when you suddenly see a name you can’t place. But in the end, it got clearer and the book wrapped up nicely and I will probably in the future both read more books by Mark Ellis and read the first one about Frank Merlin.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a free copy for an honest review! ( )
  | Feb 9, 2016 | edit |
Mark Ellis' "Stalin's Gold" is so-so. Pluses and minuses. The story is about a huge shipment of gold sent to the Russians during the Spanish Civil War in exchange for arms. A portion, about $6 million, is diverted by Polish officers to support the resistance effort. Eventually the gold winds up in London during the Blitz and everyone - Brits, Poles, Russians - is searching for it. My biggest complaint about this novel is that it is not well paced, so much of the action, and way too much of the explanation of what has been going on is saved for the final pages. Protagonist DCI Frank Merlin is too cardboard, as are most of the huge cast of characters (keep a scorecard. I did think that the vivid descriptions of the nightly bombings and aftermath were very well done. But it didn't save the book for me. Though I've now read the first two books in the series, I won't be continuing on. ( )
  maneekuhi | Jan 5, 2015 |
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book! The story has many facets to it, and this will likely be a reread for me. First off, Mark Ellis is obviously a student of history, and he ties the story in closely with real-world events and people. This mystery is set in London during the Blitzkreig of Autumn, 1940, and the main characters of the interact with historical figures, including Winston Churchill, the King and Queen of England, and even Josef Stalin and Hermann Goring make appearances. That part of the book was fascinating.

The story itself was captivating, as well, and it almost turned into an Agatha Christie-type locked room mystery, with Frank Merlin acting the part of Hercule Peroit, calling into question suspects motivations and hidden ties to each other. Good stuff, and I'm looking forward to the next Frank Merlin mystery!

I'd recommend this book to anyone with an interest in WWII, British murder mysteries, or anyone that just enjoys a well-written, well-researched book! ( )
  ssimon2000 | Jul 17, 2014 |
The thing with really enjoyable review books that are part of a series is that there's no option but to go back and get the earlier books. Regardless of how teetering the current reading pile might be. Which is what happened here after finishing STALIN'S GOLD.

Interesting enough this is now the second series built around the Polish in England that's appealed - albeit this isn't set in current day. Despite it also being the second book in the series, it's very easy to get into sync with Frank Merlin. A cop kept behind in England whilst the war rages, because of the importance of the job, he's not completely comfortable with this imposition. The job is also made considerably more difficult because there is such a lack of police resources with so many people fighting the war. On the home front the police are dealing with the aftermath of the London bombings, with looters causing concern in very high places, enough to make his immediate superiors question the need for much time to be spent searching for a missing Polish RAF pilot.

But search and find that missing pilot Merlin does, and not just because of a personal request from the brother of his Polish lover. But the finding of the dead pilot leads to an even bigger mystery which eventually winds itself around more than just his death.

The atmosphere and sense of place that builds in STALIN'S GOLD is palpable. The ever present threat of the bombings, combined with the feel of darkened streets and people living in straightened circumstances, is nicely described, and that, combined with the character of Merlin - restrained, very British, and yet a loving and concerned man gives what's ultimately a thriller, a strong base in place and character. It's also not all dire - in amongst the bombed out centres there's orchestra performances, moments in parks, and quiet and relatively peaceful streets with people getting on with life.

The pacing of the thriller aspects is well done, and whilst the plot is complicated and quite far ranging, it weaves together deftly, with the characters remaining a strong focus. In a nice touch there's a real sense of grey about many of those characters. The circumstances of the lives that wartime people live sometimes leading them to do great things, or bad things. Not excusing any of the worst of the goings on.

The other nice touch is the inclusion of the Polish government in exile and the Polish community - an aspect of wartime London here, at least, that was quite illuminating.

Definitely a series for fans of historical crime fiction. Particularly those who like a touch of thriller pace in what is ultimately a good police procedural, with a strong central protagonist.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-stalins-gold-mark-ellis ( )
  austcrimefiction | May 29, 2014 |
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CRIME & MYSTERY. December 1938. Moscow. Josef Stalin has lost some gold. He is not a happy man. He asks his henchman Beria to track it down. September 1940 London. Above the city the Battle of Britain rages and the bombs rain down. On the streets below, DCI Frank Merlin and his officers investigate the sudden disappearance of Polish RAF pilot Ziggy Kilinski while also battling an epidemic of looting unleashed by the chaos and destruction of the Blitz. Kilinski's fellow pilots, a disgraced Cambridge don, Stalin's spies in London, members of the Polish government in exile and a ruthless Russian gangster are amongst those caught up in Merlin's enquiries. Sweeping from Stalin's Russia to Civil War Spain, from Aztec Mexico to pre-war Poland, and from Hitler's Berlin to Churchill's London a compelling story of treasure, grand larceny, treachery, torture and murder unfolds.… (more)

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