Mediocre Tale of a True Hero

The best story of Russia in WWII I've read this year, but I expect the movie will be better

Compared to the other book I read this year that takes place in Russia during WWII, this was definitely my favorite in that category. However, this somehow one of those books where I feel like the movie would be better.

The Diamond Eye follows Mila Pavlichenko who really was a Russian sniper during WWII. She is trying to build a life for herself and her young son without the support of his father. As she tries to be both mother and father for her son, she takes up marksmanship and becomes one of the top Nazi hunters known as Lady Death. She is recruited on a mission to the US to illicit their help in the war where she becomes close friends with First Lady Eleanore Roosevelt. Throughout her tour she finds herself in the middle of an assassination attempt on the president and must do what she can to save her new friend's husband and even herself.

I have been a fan of Kate Quinn since reading The Alice Network in 2019. She has always done a really great job of bringing characters and history to life. However, I found this to be disappointing compared to some of her other works.

When the I was immersed with the story of Mila's background, I kept wishing for time back with the mysterious marksman and was intrigued to pick up that story. That entire plot seemed like an afterthought. Quinn never resolved the motivations of the marksman or his employers. The entire plot was a setup for a sniper battle.

The action in this book is one of the shining marks. It felt like a lot of the book was slow build up to short action. I struggled to connect with Mila as a narrator and I really never cared for any of the cast of characters around her, but the high action battles were engaging.

This is one of the few books I've read that I'm convinced the movie would be better. I think I would connect more with all of the characters. An action movie that focuses on the real story of Mila Pavlichenko would be really entertaining and likely a huge hit. If and when that movie came out I'll be in line to get a ticket.

Overall, this was just fine. If you're really into historical fiction and you've already read The Alice Network and The Rose Code then pick it up and let me know what you think. Otherwise, save yourself the time. There are better books out there.


Historical Fiction
World War II