On a remote Alaskan island, Dr. Frank Slater, a brilliant but disgraced Army epidemiologist, must do battle with everything from the inexorable forces of global warming, to the power of an ancient Russian curse, if he hopes to stop the greatest plague in history — the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 — from being released again into an unsuspecting, and un- prepared, 21st century world.
A hundred years ago, a frail young woman, hunted by the whole world, stepped alone onto the shore of a desolate Alaskan island. With her, she carried a terrible secret . . . and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. The Romanov Cross.
Today, it falls to a brilliant but disgraced U.S. Army epidemiologist — Dr. Frank Slater — to undo the disaster that the girl unwittingly wrought . . . and to avert an even greater catastrophe that could engulf the globe in the time it takes merely to catch a breath.
With a hand-picked team at his side, Dr. Slater journeys to this remote island where the forces of global warming have unleashed a threat the world has long since forgotten. In the graveyard of the island lie the bodies of a Russian sect that had once been followers of the mad monk Rasputin . . . and in their frozen bodies lies dormant the Spanish flu that slaughtered them all.
But as the ground thaws, and the coffins resurface, the question becomes, is that virus — the greatest killer the world has ever known — dead . . . or is it still alive, waiting for its chance to be released again?
Even as he conducts a rigorous scientific investigation under the worst possible conditions — a massive storm sweeping across the Bering Straits — Dr. Slater must do battle on another front, too . . . for on St. Peter’s Island, nothing is what it seems.
A pack of black wolves — claimed by the native Inuit to be immortal — roam the old and abandoned Russian colony, and at night the cliffs are haunted by an eerie specter carrying a yellow lantern.
To unravel the mysteries of the island, Slater must enlist the aid of a young tribal leader, Nika, as beautiful as she is strong- willed. It becomes her job to educate the doctor in the things that the eye cannot see but the heart can perceive, and to open his mind to the infinite possibilities of a world beyond this one. Along the way, she opens his heart, too, to a life less driven, and less lonely, than the one he has felt condemned to lead.
Together, Slater and Nika solve one of the most enduring mysteries of world history — the fate of the most famous member of the Romanov dynasty, the Grand Duchess Anastasia — and discover a lost but legendary treasure.
At the same time, and at the risk of their own lives, they stop the great plague of 1918 from wreaking even greater havoc in the unsuspecting 21st century.
The key to it all is harbored in the Romanov Cross.
“In this fascinating, funny, and frightening supernatural thriller, Masello skillfully weaves together the story of the deaths of the Russian royal family with the possibility of a new worldwide influenza pandemic . . . Toss in a pack of slavering wolves, the undead, and a chilling ending, and the result is a terrific, can’t-put-it-down read. Fine prose and plotting help solidify Masello’s position at the top of this crowded subgenre.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review), 12/ 24/12.
“Masello weaves several disparate genres — medical thriller, historical novel, ghost story — into a coherent whole. A delicious sense of creeping dread permeates the first act, greatly enhanced by its setting in the stark but beautiful landscape of northwestern Alaska . . . The payoff is an extremely satisfying conclusion. Tense, taut and impossible to put down.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review), 12/15/12