Friday, May 27, 2016
Review of Stalin’s Gold by Mark Ellis (Troubador, 2014)
Stalin’s Gold in the second book in the DCI Frank Merlin series set in London during the Second World War. At one level there’s quite a bit going on in the tale which entangles Polish aristocratic exiles and RAF pilots, Russian gangsters and political agents, local criminal looters, and the police, centred around some missing gold bullion. At another, the whole story is quite strongly telegraphed, meaning that there is not much mystery or surprise to the tale. Moreover the tale is held together in a web of coincidences, such as Merlin finding some gold in a bomb site and the looter’s also being connected to the Russians, and there are a number of scenes that do not move the story forward. To a degree these don’t really matter as it’s still an enjoyable read, Merlin continues to be a likeable character, the tale is interesting, and the context with respect to the war is nicely done, but I felt they took the edge off what could have been a more intriguing story with respect to how the mystery is revealed to the reader.