Robert Masello: The Romanov Cross

The Author

Robert Masello's picture

Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, television writer, and the bestselling author of many novels and nonfiction books.

His articles, essays and reviews have appeared often in such magazines as New York, Town and Country, Travel and Leisure, People, Redbook, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, TV Guide, Men’s Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Westways, and The Wilson Quarterly. Newspapers include The Washington Post, Newsday, The Chicago Tribune, and The Los Angeles Times.

He has written for several popular television series, ranging from “Early Edition” to “Charmed,” which have aired on CBS, Fox, USA, and Showtime.



Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it.

Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, Slater is offered a job no one else wants – to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon: The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn’t come back to life.

Frank and his handpicked team arrive by helicopter, loaded down with high-tech tools, prepared to exhume history. The colony, it transpires, was once settled by a sect devoted to the mad Russian monk Rasputin, but there is even more hiding in the past than Frank’s team is aware of. Any hope of success hinges on their willingness to accept the fact that even their cutting-edge science has its limits – and that the ancient wisdom of the Inuit people who once inhabited this eerie land is as essential as any serum. By the time Frank discovers that his mission has been compromised – crashed by a gang of reckless treasure hunters – he will be in a brutal race against time. With a young, strong-willed Inuit woman by his side, Frank must put a deadly genie back in the bottle before all of humanity pays the price.

The Romanov Cross is at once an alternate take on one of history’s most profound mysteries, a love story as unlikely as it is inevitable, and a thriller of heart-stopping, supernatural suspense. With his signature blend of fascinating history and fantastic imagination, critically acclaimed author Robert Masello has once again crafted a terrifying story of past events coming back to haunt the present day . . . and of dark deeds aching to be unearthed.


This is a tough review to write, I liked this book and at times hated this book. But i think the story wins out in the end. (I hated the use of one word in particular. Lighted… its Lit man Lit… he lit a fire, not lighted it…Ok rant over)

The book is not totally what I was expecting, but I don’t often read supernatural thrillers. When you get away from the use of certain words (grr) then you have a story that builds slowly and carefully, gradually drawing the reader in.

I liked the regular time slip elements back to the time of Rasputin and the Romanov’s. They have been an enduring mystery of the modern age, and really do grab the interest (or they did with me). The book also triggers a need to know more, I know I have looked more at how things suddenly went so bad for the royal family. (I bet the Germans regretted sending Lenin there in the end though).

In the current time period, the book probably could have lived without the love story and centred more on the spanish flu, and the mystery of the wolves etc.

And ultimately I thought the end for poor Anastasia was a cop-out, I get the keep it all hidden for the best angle, but its a cop-out. it would be better having it hit the headlines and a world scandal but with the Dr and Mayor leaving it all behind in the wider world because up in the wilds of Alaska no one cares about the politics.

Would I recommend?

It’s worth a read, I spent a couple of days with it, and at night wanted to keep going not sleep. So despite the draw backs noted, yes a 4 out of 5 thriller, good characters and a nice idea for the plot.

My Wife had a hacking cough while i was reading this, so that added an extra dimension to the story… dont read it when you have a cold, im not sure i would have finished it if i had one…. the spanish flu is a scary SOB.


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Filed under Historical Fiction, Thrillers

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