One might consider a story about a Russian sniper becoming best friends with Eleanor Roosevelt and touring the country a wild fable, but what I just wrote is true. In The Diamond Eye, Kate Quinn does an excellent job of taking facts and coating with fiction to create a thriller.
Quinn took the memoirs of sniper Mila Pavlichenko and gave Mila a voice to narrate The Diamond Eye. Mila tells us what she was thinking, which is mostly Quinn’s imagination, but the facts remain intact. Mila was a sniper in the Red Army, volunteering when Germany invaded the USSR at the start of World War II. They credited her with 309 kills. She had a young son she left with grandparents when she went to war. The loves of her life can only be speculative, but Quinn makes them powerful.
The first part of the book takes us into battle against the Germans and Iris, through the author, makes it real. Each chapter starts with a quotation from the ‘Official Memoir,’ followed by Iris telling us what really happened.
The second part of the book takes place in America. The Japanese attack the United States at Pearl Harbor and Russia then has a new ally against the Nazis, but America’s attention is to the Pacific. Russia wants America to open another front against the Germans and send a good will group to America to help their case. Mila is part of the group. However, there is an assassin, only named ‘the marksman’ by Quinn, who is plotting to kill Franklin Roosevelt and place the blame on Mila.
The book is long at over 450 pages and Quinn gives Mila plenty of space to tell the reader her thoughts, all well written, but lengthens the pace as a thriller. Then again, the book is ‘War Fiction,’ and not a thriller, per se. But there are plenty of fast-paced parts, especially toward the end, to make it just that, a thriller.
I recommend it.