This is my favorite type of book. “The Romanvo Cross” by Robert Masello is an excellent read with a rich story line filled with historical references, believable science and likable characters.
This book is split between two times: present day Alaska and 1910’s Russia. The two times intertwine, and I think Robert Masello did a marvelous job keeping both stories separate, but linked.
The main character of the book was Frank Slater, an epidemiologist who has worked in some of the harshest locations on the planet. After a shipping vessel comes into contact with an old casket from an abandoned Alaskan island, Slater is called in for his expertise. Although no one has lived on the island in nearly 100 years, there is still the thread of a contagion spreading to the mainland. In 1918, all of the members of a sect devoted to Rasputin died of the Spanish Flu, one of the deadliest epidemics there has ever been. Slater selects a team of scientist from around the world to study the unique conditions on the island that may have led to the preservation of the Spanish Flu virus in the permafrost entombed bodies.
The second story line in the book is about the ill-fated Romanov family, the last rulers of Russia. The family’ relationship with the historically misunderstood Rasputin caused a great deal of turmoil in the upper echelon of Russian government. Ultimately the murder of Rasputin by close members of the royal family sets the stage for the fall of the Romanovs. The sudden decline and kidnapping of the family was presented through the eyes of Anastasia, the famed youngest daughter who for a long time many believed lived through the terrible massacre.
Masello’s ability to link present-day epidemiology to the Romanov family was just brilliant. First, I like Frank because he is a reliable character, he has an interesting job and he is up for a little adventure. I also love the science part; being a scientist myself these are my favorite types of books to read. A little history, a little adventure, mix in some science and romance, and sold! You can tell Masello did a lot of research on the Spanish Flu and the Romanovs, which only makes the story much more realistic. Also, by reading this book, it intrigued me to do some of my own research. If a book catches your attention, and you want to dig deeper, then it is a good book. My only small problem with the book was how quickly the romance was introduced. I like romance, but it seemed kind of thrown in at the last minute.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story with historical figures, real science, and a bit of adventure added for spice.
A copy of this book was provided to me for my honest opinion.