The Romanov Conspiracy: A Thriller by Glenn Meade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: From the internationally bestselling author of The Second Messiah—an intriguing thriller about an archeologist who discovers new clues to the mysterious disappearance of Princess Anastasia. Dr. Laura Pavlov is a member of an international team digging on the outskirts of the present-day Russian city of Ekaterinburg, where the Romanov royal family was executed by its captors in July 1918. When Dr. Pavlov discovers two bodies perfectly preserved in permafrost in a mineshaft, she discovers dramatic new clues to the disappearance of the Romanovs, and in particular their famous daughter Princess Anastasia, whose murder has always been in doubt. What Pavlov learns will change the accepted course of world history and hurl her back into the past—and into a maelstrom of secrets and lies. The Romanov Conspiracy is a high-tension story of trust and betrayal, of a fight between good and evil, and of love and friendship, set in one of the most bloody and brutal revolutions in world history.
My thoughts: Years ago, I read a book by Robert Massie, The Romanovs: The Final Chapter. It was a fascinating book that explored not only the Russian Revolution and what led up to the execution of the tsar's family, but also ballistics, the acid used to deface the bodies, along with the eventual DNA testing of the bodies and of the infamous Anna Anderson who claimed to be Anastasia.
Since it has been years since I read the book, I can't recall with clarity every detail. That said, Meade does not attempt to change history nor does he attempt to retell what we already know. What he creates is a believable story of a group of people who attempt a rescue of the Romonov family.
A female body, encased and preserved in ice, is unearthed in a mine shaft in the Urals near the resting place of the Romanov family. Other bodies are also disposed of in the mine shafts but this one is of particular interest and leads the protagonist to Ireland and to an old Russian named Yakov who claims to be the son of the commissar Yakov tasked with the final disposal of the Romanov family in 1918. He then weaves a story together that is both historically correct, as far as I could tell, and enjoyable to read.
The author includes a cast of characters that, at first blush, don't seem to have many interests in common. But what he accomplishes is painting a more complete picture of the world at the time. This, he does through the introduction of characters which would take too much time and space to summarize. Instead, I'll include highlights of the world at that time and what the group were working through.
Not only was Russia in upheaval with the Bolsheviks, tired of living under royalty, taking power from the tsarists during a great revolution, violence was rampant. Disease, hunger, and lack of predictable heat, power, or transportation claimed many Russian lives. Lenin, who made vast promises of equality, had millions of Russians murdered and/or sent to Siberia. Former Tsarists turned Red Army simply for power. Nobody could be trusted.
Meanwhile, on the western front, Germany had engaged in The Great War. Their planes and war machines were far superior to what could be found nearby.
Ireland, having spent the past 600 years under British rule, wanted independence. Between winks and nods, Germany smuggles guns to the Irish in an effort to drive the British attention from themselves.
Speaking of England, the king of England, George, is a cousin of Nicholai Romanov. He is torn between aiding in the rescue due to family ties and obligation and staying out of the conflict in Russia.
Meanwhile, the Spanish Flu is lighting the world on fire. An estimated 30 million people perish.
The Boston Red Sox defeat the Chicago Cubs in the World Series - their last World Series win until 2004. Wait. That part is not in the book. It's still a fascinating piece of 1918, though.
Brothers fought on opposite sides of wars. Spies were abundant in every country with interest, bribery, blackmail, and begging were all used. And somehow all of the above facts (except the World Series) come together to form a cohesive and intriguing story and possible theory.
I found it fascinating.