Author: Robert Harris
Published: February 1, 2000
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Fluke Kelso was once a scholar of promise, but like so many in the highly competitive world of academia, he’s never delivered. But one night, at a symposium in Moscow concerning the release of secret Soviet archives, he is approached by Papu Rapava, a former Kremlin bodyguard with a story to tell. No one but the desperate Kelso would believe the tale, for what Rapava describes is a sort of Holy Grail among researchers: an actual diary left by Joseph Stalin himself. Such an artifact, if it’s genuine — and if Kelso can survive the fascist Vladimir Mamantov, who wants it for his own agenda — would be the coup of a lifetime for the discredited researcher.
Before Kelso can learn the location of the diary, Rapava disappears, and Kelso’s search for the former bodyguard leads him to the man’s daughter, a whore selling herself in the new Moscow of drugs, corruption, and the Russian mafia. With an unscrupulous American journalist hot on their heels, a major of the new KGB close behind, and the shadowy Mamantov following them all, the two follow a trail that leads from Moscow’s seedy underbelly to the industrial city of Archangel, where Russia once built her fleets of submarines, to a remote camp on the edge of the Siberian nothingness, and finally to a shocking conclusion that bites like the wind blowing off the tundra. What Kelso sees as the coup of his career might turn out to be the catalyst for an actual coup in Russia. There is a legacy behind the diary, a legacy of evil and death, and Fluke Kelso is unwittingly about to unleash it on the world.
Robert Harris has nudged his way onto my list of favorite authors! A hunt for Stalin’s lost papers?? Yes please! If there is indeed that expedition, I volunteer!
Archangel gave a great look at the little details of Russian politics, culture, geography, history, etc. Harris included references to before the fall of communism along with the more current government structure of recent years. He manages to write new stories about current subjects that you can’t help but believe, yet never names real leaders or current politicians. The beginning started a little slow, but I enjoyed the details of the old man’s story and Fluke’s plethora of research.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure how everything was going to come together. I was almost disappointed with the ending, yet Harris surprised me and I was pleased with how everything was tied up. Overall, this is a great book for historians and even for those who love nitty gritty historical detail!
Author: Ariel Lawhon
Published: March 28, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Russia, July 17, 1918
Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.
Germany, February 17, 1920
A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.
Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
This not being able to say anything in my reviews is exhausting! I’m starting to think I’m not such a good reviewer. I want to get into all the details and all the thoughts that were rushing through my head while reading this book . . . But if I do, then I’ll give stuff away! And I’m not here to ruin books for y’all! Ok, I’ll try. The character of Anna Anderson was spot on, from all I’ve read about her. I take back every critical thought I had about Lawhon and her historical research while reading this book. The timeline within the writing was a little confusing, since it went backwards, but by the end, I understood why Lawhon went with it. The cover is fabulous and I love it. I really liked the look into the journey of the Romanovs once they started heading east. I also enjoyed the legalities of trying to prove Anna’s identity as Anastasia. And that’s all I can say!! I really liked this book and I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for some good historical fiction. It captured the mystery of the Romanovs’ deaths and burials so perfectly and its a great read for anyone, like myself, who is fascinated by the Romanovs’ story.