cover image The Romanov Ransom: A Sam and Remi Fargo Adventure

The Romanov Ransom: A Sam and Remi Fargo Adventure

Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell. Putnam, $29 (400p) ISBN 978-0-399-57554-9

The focus of bestseller Cussler’s tepid ninth Sam and Remi Fargo adventure (after 2016’s Pirate, also coauthored with Burcell) is the Romanov ransom, treasures collected by the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1918 in a doomed effort to buy the freedom of Czar Nicholas II and his family from the Bolsheviks. No such ransom was ever paid, so the massive trove is somewhere out there waiting for either the Fargos or several varieties of bad guys to find. The authors trot out the usual mix of international travel, Nazis, Russian crime families, double crosses, deadly shoot-outs, hairsbreadth escapes, and lively banter between Sam and Remi, but it all seems a little stale. Even series fans will hope that Cussler cranks up the heat next time and tackles two real-life mysteries mentioned only in passing in this installment: the Amber Room, looted by the Germans during WWII from a Russian palace and never recovered, and the legendary Nazi gold train, supposedly still awaiting discovery in a Polish mine. Agent: Peter Lampack, Peter Lampack Agency. (Sept.)