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With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels; 
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!

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The Romanov Conspiracy by Glenn Meade

Reviewed on: January 1, 2024

****

Howard Books:  New York City
(PB) 2013

Glenn Meade, the prolific author of political thrillers, sets the stage for The Romanov Conspiracy at an archaeological site near Ekaterinburg, in the shadow of the western Russia Ural Mountains.  The excavation team, co-directed by forensic archaeologist Dr. Laura Pavlov, is comprised of specialists from America, Britain, Germany, Italy and Russia.  The project goal is to seek evidence of mass executions carried out by the Bolsheviks beginning in 1918.  Tens of thousands of Russians were killed, including almost certainly the Russian royal family, although the Bolsheviks never confirmed the deaths of the Romanovs nor the rumored—almost legendary—tale that daughter Anastasia and son Alexei had escaped the assassins.  Laura’s grandmother’s family had fled revolutionary Russia for America and in a sense, she has returned to the country of her ancestors to seek evidence to one of history’s greatest crimes—the Red Terror.

A series of abandoned mine shafts are discovered in the Koptyaki forest near Ipatiev House, where the Romanov family had been held under house arrest following the Tsar’s abdication.  Artifacts from the revolutionary period are unearthed in one of the shafts, along with the body of a young woman almost completely preserved in the permafrost.  She is holding a locket and chain that spurs Laura on a quest that promises to shed light on the ninety-year-old mystery that has surrounded the fate of the Romanov family.  Realizing the danger of her actions, she “borrows” the locket and flies to Ireland to meet the mysterious Michael Yakov, with whom she has been corresponding since he learned of the Ekaterinburg excavation.  In his letters he had predicted the discovery of the woman buried in the shaft near Ipatiev House.  She meets Yakov, a very elderly and infirm gentleman, at the church cemetery in Colon, Ireland—a burial ground that features Russian crosses and Cyrillic inscriptions among the more numerous Celtic crosses.  Historically there had been strong commercial ties between Russia and Ireland and many Russian families emigrated to Ireland after the Bolshevik Revolution.  Yakov shows Laura the grave of Uri Andrev and tells her that Andrev changed the course of history.  He then begins an astounding tale that takes Laura back to the chaotic and frightening dearly days of revolutionary Russia—when Reds and Whites (supporters of the fallen czarist state) fought to the death for the soul of Russia.

The tale involves Yakov’s father, a high official in the Cheka (secret police), assigned by Vladimir Lenin himself to supervise the assassinations of the Romanov family; his brother Uri Andrev, a czarist army captain; Philip Sorg, an American spy who falls in love with Anastasia; Lydia Ryan, an Irish revolutionary who is coerced into aiding a scheme to rescue the Romanov family—an intrigue coordinated by the shadowy Irish Canadian entrepreneur/spymaster, Joe Boyle.*

The complex plot to thwart the assassination of the Romanov family, plus the even more complex personalities of the conspirators, makes for a fascinating and gripping tale of heroism, love and dedication.

Michael Yakov’s memories spur Laura on to follow the clues to the Romanov story—from Woodstock, Canada to Riga, Latvia to Stockholm to Kentucky and ultimately back to Michael Yakov and his final revelations concerning the historically momentous events some ninety years earlier. 

This is a wonderfully conceived story (Author Meade notes that much of it is true, a small part is fiction, and it’s up to the reader to discern which is which!) with complicated and relatable protagonists caught up in world-shaking historical events.  Four trowels for The Romanov Conspiracy. 

*Joe Boyle is an historic figure whose life and exploits surpass the incredible.  Google him and prepare to read of a man who would seem to be the creation of an overzealous writer of paperback potboilers!