“Snipers must make themselves calm in order to succeed, and that is why women are good at sharpshooting. Because there is not a woman alive who has not learned how to eat rage in order to appear calm,” Kate Quinn, The Diamond Eye.
With each of her historical novels, Kate Quinn gets better. After her 2021 book, The Rose Code, I didn’t think that was possible, but The Diamond Eye is a stellar achievement.
In the snowbound city of Kiev, history student Lyudmila “Mila” Pavlichenko’s life revolves around her job as a library researcher and caring for her five-year-old son, Slavka. But when Hitler invades Russia, she forges a different path. Armed with a beat-up rifle, the Russian army sends her to the bloody battlefields of the eastern front. Mila becomes the Nazis hunter known as Lady Death. With news of her three hundredth kill, Mila joins the Russian delegation and travels to the United States to raise funds for the war effort.
Still reeling from a serious injury and devastated by the loss of several loved ones, Mila develops an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a fellow sniper. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe, Lady Death battles her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.
The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel loaded with phenomenal heroism and historical detail. As with The Alice Network, The Huntress, and The Rose Code, her latest features a strong, intelligent woman as the main protagonist. Her descriptive prose made me feel as if I were inside Mila’s head and looking through a sniper’s rifle. Much of the plot came from Pavlichenko’s book Lady Death: The Memoirs of Stalin’s Sniper, which I look forward to reading. I will say, however, that I was uncomfortable with the author putting thought in Eleanor Roosevelt’s head, but that is a minor criticism.
A realistic, propulsive read full of action and emotion, The Diamond Eye an unforgettable true story of a quiet bookworm who became history’s deadliest female sniper. It was riveting. Bravo. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
Publication Date: March 2022
Genre: Historical fiction
Read-alikes: Annie and the Wolves by Andromeda Romano-Lax; A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton; The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II and War of the Rats by Svetlana Alexievich; Code Name Code name Helene by Ariel Lawhon; Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams.