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Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars The Romanov Cross, 20 April 2013
This review is from: The Romanov Cross (Hardcover)
This action novel begins in Afghanistan, where a US soldier is court-martialled for ordering a medevac for a child bitten by a deadly snake, and moves to Alaska, where a crab fishing boat hauls up a coffin-sized carved box. Neither case goes well.... Slater is dismissed from the army while Harley's ship strikes a rock near an island and sinks. But Slater is a doctor and can work as an epidemiologist - and Harley's managed secretly to salvage a Russian cross with emeralds from the coffin.

THE ROMANOV CROSS was buried in a graveyard on a now abandoned island, but climate change is melting permafrost and land is loosening and slipping into the sea. The bodies buried there died in the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 and 50 million people died worldwide. Possibly the flu strain could persist in the frozen bodies and cause disaster if disturbed. St. Peter's Island now lures Harley to sail back out there with friends and search for more coffins and jewels despite a pack of hungry black wolves, while Dr. Slater is assembling a team, including a Russian, to treat the island as a biohazard.

Robert Masello has given us a easily convincing plot as well as characters so real we can almost feel them breathing. Interspersed we see the lives of some wealthy Russians in 1916, where Rasputin talks to Anastasia at a ball, handing the Romanov princess the cross. The past story continues but can be skipped if the reader does not want to get involved in it. Slater receives Inuit hospitality and lessons in handling tribal burial grounds from Nika, an anthropologist in Port Orlov, who is the mayor and tribal elder. She can delay issuing permits to trespass on tribal grounds - or he can let her tag along to supervise. While I didn't enjoy the scenes about digging up corpses, anyone with an eye toward med school will be fascinated by the extreme precautions taken by the team, from antiviral medication to a hazmat disposable autopsy chamber - this reminded me of 'The X-Files'. Wolves were never recorded as killing humans but Masello shows his pack as fearless and very hungry - perhaps desperate. As the local fishermen make it back to shore the worry is that they could spread the virus around and decimate the population. While not for the tender, THE ROMANOV CROSS is a fast-moving thriller that will keep you reading... but maybe not if you have the flu
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