THE ROMANOV RANSOM by Anne Armstrong Thompson


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Claire Taschdjian's The Peking Man Is Missing (p. 748) demonstrated what bounties of plausible entertainment can still be dug out of priceless, buried treasures; Thompson's Easter Egg hunt, agreeable enough in its own predictable way, pales by comparison. The missing eggs are, of course, twelve of the gemencrusted ones designed by FabergÉ for the Romanov Czars. The Soviets believe they're in America somewhere and want them so badly that they're willing to release, in exchange, a US spy who's dying of interrogation in a Russian prison. CIA operatives Hank Kessel (crusty veteran) and Leslie Monroe (comely but efficient neophyte) are handed the seemingly hopeless assignment--Washington research, city-to-city interviews with ÉmigrÉs, contacts with international thieves--and it soon becomes clear that Hank and Leslie are being followed, dangerously, by the KGB, White-Russian hold-outs, and others. Perhaps, just perhaps, the egg trail is expected to lead also to an Heir To The Throne, and, indeed, the grandson of the mysterious Russian grande dame who's been hiding the eggs is suddenly kidnapped. Could she be. . . ? ? Could he be. . . ? ? Such leftover aromas of anesthesia, er, Anastasia, do not enhance the marginal credibility here, and they get in the way of an otherwise well-prepared denouement. Still, the love-hate relationship between Hank and Leslie is endearingly true-to-formula, and the action, though dotted with surefire ÉmigrÉ details (an icon here, a samovar there), is packaged in short, swift chapters that will neither lift you up nor bog you down.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Simon & Schuster