Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna offered a mega-fortune in jewels while attempting to ransom Czar Nicholas II and his family from the Bolsheviks, but she certainly didn’t expect those riches to finance a Nazi Fourth Reich.
That won’t happen if Sam and Remi Fargo have any say in the matter. Cussler and Burcell (Pirate, 2016) imagine that World War II Nazis later seized what they call the Romanov Ransom, riches hidden away in the Catherine Palace by the Soviet government. After Germany's defeat, Operation Werewolf sent hardcore Nazis down the real-life “ratline” to South America. Cussler expands that history to suppose the ransom was meant to finance a Nazi revival there. The Fargos become involved because they helped finance documentarians investigating the ratline and then receive word the young filmmakers are missing. They make quick work of finding them in the Atlas Mountains, at the same time uncovering clues to the ransom's whereabouts. Soon the Fargos are shooting it out with the die-hard Nazi Wolf Guard in Marrakesh and then Königsberg. Later, as the Fargos continue to trace the lost ransom, they battle more Guard members in Buenos Aires, in the drug-lord–infested Argentine jungle, and finally on a lost Andes peak where a crashed WWII–era Avro Lancastrian holds more than one frozen secret. This intercontinental shoot, stab, and chase is complicated by a German businessman’s greed, a broken Enigma code machine, mummified corpses, and Russian spies apparently playing both sides of the street. Character development is nil. Bad guys are thoroughly worth a bullet. The exotic and sometimes-beautiful scenery gets photo-caption–length descriptions. Nevertheless, tension never lets up and no fan of the genre will stop turning pages, the entire tome made better by heavy-with-facts research right down to the names of priceless Fabergé eggs: Hen with Sapphire Pendant Egg, Royal Danish Egg, Empire Nephrite Egg, and the Alexander III Commemorative Egg.
Cussler’s plots sometime slip outside of the box of believability, but he’s always entertaining.