Finished March 7
The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello
This tale takes place on a small Alaskan island, St. Peter's Island, near the mainland village of Port Orlov. The island is rocky and treacherous and most people have avoided it since the small community of Russians who lived there died of the Spanish Flu in 1918.
But when a fishing craft drifts too near, and the lone survivor comes back with a carved wooden lid of a coffin, questions are raised.
Dr. Frank Slater is an epidemiologist who, in making a call in Afghanistan to try to save the life of a young girl, countermands orders and is dishonourably discharged from the army. But his sentence is stayed as he is tasked to put together a team to investigate the situation on St. Peter's Island and ensure there is no possibility of contagion from the graves there.
Slater uses Port Orlov as a staging base for his work, and the mayor there, a native woman, becomes involved after noting that the island is native territory. The small team encounters strange things there, and finds that they aren't the only ones present on the island, and the intruders may be risking more than they thought in trying to find a treasure they imagine to exist.
The story of what happened on the island has a long trail back, a trail that leads to the Russian royal family, to the always mysterious fate of the youngest daughter Anastasia, and to the legacy of the monk known as Rasputin.
This is a tale of greed, love, death, and tragedy, a tale with a long history, and a touch of the paranormal. A great read.