Christopher Hyde, Author . Onyx $7.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-451-41108-2

Taking a page from Dan Brown, Hyde (The Second Assassin , etc.) stuffs his new thriller with tons of historical data, introduces a lost artifact of enormous importance and shifts point of view often to keep the cliffhangers coming. Although the format is familiar, it is very well done. In this case, the grail is a lost piece of film that supposedly shows the brutal execution of the family of Tsar Nicholas II in 1918. The action takes place in 1941, as the world teeters on the brink of a second devastating world war. Photographer Jane Todd and Scotland Yard alum Morris Black are tapped by spy boss Ian Fleming (in his pre-novelist days) to investigate the existence of the film. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that much more is at stake than a mere historical curio—the film, if it's valid, would prove that the bloodline of Nicholas ended on that fateful night, and his vast fortune sitting in bank accounts around the world would default to its possessors. The plot grows bewilderingly complex, and the cast of characters mushrooms. Readers looking for faster, leaner thriller fare will find themselves backtracking or just plain giving up, but the book's intended audience will delight in Hyde's rich period detail, wealth of historical research and labyrinthine story line. Agent, Jane Chelius. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/12/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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