THE LAST TRAIN TO KAZAN
Penguin Canada
Paperback

ISBN 9780143055853

Moscow in the summer of 1918.

After a series of harrowing experiences on the Western Front, Pyotr Ryzhkov is working for French intelligence in Moscow. Arrested by agents of the newly formed Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police, he is certain that he will be executed in a blood-splattered Lubyanka courtyard. Instead he finds himself being pressured into working with this old Okhrana boss, Velimir Antonovich Zezulin who has changed his identity and rehabilitated himself as a Cheka controller.

What Zezulin wants to know is the exact whereabouts and condition of the Imperial family. The Romanovs, exiled to Tobolsk for the winter, have suddenly been moved to a far more militant region – Yekaterinburg, home to the “ultra-loyal” Ural soviet. But Yekaterinburg is a city under attack. All along the Trans-Siberian railroad former Czechoslovak prisoners of war have joined with White forces and now they approach the outskirts. Ryzhkov’s mission: travel to Yekaterinburg, penetrate Czech lines if they have already taken the city, find out and report back on the situation of the Romanovs.

The events in July of 1918 in the Ipatiev house will be mired in confusion for nearly a century. Rumours will be repeated as history. But the true fate of the Romanovs will be the most closely held secret in the Kremlin.

 

Praise For

"...a fabulous, fabulous historical mystery."
– Margaret Cannon -CBC, Sounds Like Canada

The Globe and Mail, Saturday June 7, 2008-06-07
CRIME BOOKS – Margaret Cannon

If you missed Vancouver actor Stephen Miler’s first Port Ryzhkov novel, Field of Mars, you should pick it up when you buy this book. You’ll want it because it introduces his investigator, Ryzhkov, in the last days of the czars, and its really good. But Last Train to Kazan is even better. Miller really knows how to build characters, construct the setting for a grand historical novel and make it fast, fun and exciting.

This novel is set toward the end of the Great War, with Russia deep in revolution. The Bolsheviks control the west, but in the east, the White Army, aided by units from across Europe, is fighting to put the deposed Romanovs back on the throne and the nobility back into power.

The members of the royal family are all captives of various Bolshevik facts. They are also related to all the ruling houses of Europe, making them a bargaining chip for some, an icon of deadly oppression for others. They are rumoured to be in Siberia, where the White Army is a major presence.

Ryzhkov is temporarily in the hire of the French, but his old Cheka boss summons him for a job he can’t refuse. He is to go to the capital of Siberia and find out the truth about the royal family. Are they dead or alive? Who’s in charge?

We know how this plays out, but Miller keeps us reading. There’s enough suspense in the history alone to keep the novel moving, and Miller adds some delightful characters, including a German baroness living in a railway car and a wily Italian commander who seems too charming to be nasty.