Treasure-hunting team Sam and Remi Fargo's search for a Romanov fortune brings them into perilous contact with an ambitious neo-Nazi clan in this thrilling adventure from grandmaster of adventure Clive Cussler. In 1918, a ransom of enormous size was paid to free the Romanovs from the Bolsheviks, but, as history knows, the Romanovs died anyway. And the ransom? During World War II, the Nazis stole it from the Russians, and after that--it vanished. Until now. When a modern-day kidnapping captures the attention of husband-and-wife team Sam and Remi Fargo, the couple soon learn that these long-lost riches may be back in play, held in trust by the descendants of a Nazi guerrilla faction called the Werewolves. It is their mission to establish the Fourth Reich, and their time is coming soon. As the Fargos follow the trail across Europe, Northern Africa, and South America, they know only one thing. This quest is greater than anything they have ever done--it is their chance to make someone answer for unspeakable crimes, and to prevent them from happening again.
Clive Cussler is the author or coauthor of more than seventy previous books in five bestselling series, including Dirk Pitt, NUMA Files, Oregon Files, Isaac Bell, and Sam and Remi Fargo. He lives in Arizona. Robin Burcell spent nearly three decades working in California law enforcement as a police officer, detective, hostage negotiator, and FBI-trained forensic artist. She is the author of ten novels, and coauthor with Cussler of the Sam and Remi Fargo novel Pirate. Burcell lives in Lodi, California.
Praise for The Romanov Ransom "This Fargo adventure continues the trend of quality writing and an extra-fast pace tossed in with some thrilling history."--Associated Press Praise for the Sam and Remi Fargo novels "This adventure series stands as one of the crown jewels in the Cussler empire."-- Publishers Weekly "Sam and Remi are fearless, honest, curious, and resourceful in all situations. Fasten your seat belt for this wonderful read!"-- Library Journal
1 Laguna Mountains San Diego County, California To the left!" "Copy that. Moving to the left. Five . . . four . . ." The helicopter hovered near the sheer rock face, the tethered basket swinging from the cable, as one of the rescuers radioed, "Don''t come any closer. You''re one-zero from the wall." "Copy that." Sam Fargo watched as the two search-and-rescue volunteers, a man and woman, both wearing khaki uniforms and yellow helmets, guided the helicopter basket closer to where his wife, Remi, lay on an outcropping of rock, her left leg stabilized with a makeshift splint. The turbulence from the rotors whipped her auburn hair about her face, her green eyes tearing up from all the dirt blowing around. The man glanced up at the hovering helicopter. "We got it!" he radioed. Sam took note of every move they made, resisting the urge to step in and take over. And even though he knew his wife was in good hands, it was difficult to stand there and do nothing. Within a few minutes, they had her secured in the basket, then stood back as she was lifted from the mountainside. No sooner was she safely on her way than his phone rang. He wanted to ignore it, but when he saw it was Selma Wondrash, the head of his and Remi''s research team, he answered. "Selma." "How''s Mrs. Fargo?" "Doing better than the rest of us. She at least gets to ride out of here. The rest of us have to climb." "You can always volunteer to be the victim next time," she said, then got right to the point. "You recall my cousin''s nephews you and Mrs. Fargo were backing for that documentary they were making on the ratlines?" Because he and Remi sponsored so many educational and archaeological ventures through the Fargo Foundation, the charitable organization that they had founded, he sometimes lost track of who they were funding. In this case, though, being a World War II history buff, he distinctly recalled the young men and their project, a documentary on the ratline--a system of escape routes used by the Nazis and Fascists who fled Europe after the war. Even so, it took him a moment to bring up their names. "Karl and Brand. I remember. Why?" "Their uncle hasn''t been able to get in touch with them for a couple of days. He''s worried. Especially after getting an odd message on his voice mail." "Any idea what it was?" "Something about them finding a lost plane in Morocco, and people were after them. He can''t get any help from the authorities, because the boys didn''t register with the consulate, and no one seems to know where they are. I told him that you might be able to pull some strings and get someone to look into it. I know you and Remi have a date tonight, but--" "Your family''s our family," he said, grabbing his backpack from the ground and slinging it over his shoulder. "Have our plane ready to go. As soon as Remi and I get home, we''ll pack and head to the airport." Sam and Remi Fargo were not the usual multimillionaires content to rest on the laurels of good business decisions that had netted them more money than they could spend in several lifetimes. Sam had earned an engineering degree from Caltech, spent seven years at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, then left to start his own company, where he''d made a fortune developing a number of inventions used by the military and intelligence agencies. Remi, an anthropologist and historian with a focus on ancient trade routes, graduated from Boston College. Her background came in handy during the pursuit of their particular passion, searching for lost treasures around the world. It also helped that she had a near-photographic memory, was proficient in several languages, and was a world-class sharpshooter when it came to firearms. As many scrapes as they''d been in over the years, there was no one Sam would rather have as his partner than Remi. There was, however, one slight issue about leaving tonight. It happened to be the anniversary of the day they met at the Lighthouse Cafe, a jazz bistro in Hermosa Beach. To them, it was even more important than their wedding anniversary, and they honored it each year by having a date at the very table where they''d spent their first evening talking the night away. Remi was waiting for Sam at the car when he finally got there after the climb up the cliffside with the volunteers. "Took you long enough," she said, looking at her watch. "We''re going to get stuck in commuter traffic if we don''t hit the road soon." Sam tossed his climbing gear into the back of their Range Rover. "Any chance you wouldn''t mind a slight change of plans . . . ?" He left the question hanging, noting the disappointment on her face. "We''ve never missed date night at the Lighthouse." "Maybe we could mix it up a bit. A week of date nights somewhere else? Like Morocco?" Before she had a chance to respond, he added, "Selma''s family might be in trouble." "I love date night in Morocco." 2 It was late morning, the bright sun shining on the snow-peaked Atlas Mountains in the distance, when Sam and Remi landed in Marrakesh. They rented a black four-wheel-drive Toyota Prado, then drove out to meet Selma''s cousin Albert Hoffler, who was waiting in front of the hotel as they pulled up. "He looks like Selma," Remi said as Sam turned the key fob over to the valet. "At least in the eyes." In fact, he was also about the same age as Selma, in his fifties, with brown hair, and a neatly trimmed beard and mustache flecked with gray. His smile seemed strained--understandable, considering the circumstances. "Mr. and Mrs. Fargo. I can''t thank you enough for flying all the way out here." "Please. It''s Sam and Remi. Save the formalities for Selma," Sam said, shaking his hand. "Cousin Selma''s been that way her whole life." His smile was fleeting, and he gave a tired sigh. "We can talk over lunch. I''ve reserved us a table." He led them through the hotel''s spacious courtyard lobby, with a fountain and reflecting pool in the center. The restaurant was on the far side, the tables overlooking the pool. When they were seated, he said, "How much has Selma told you?" Sam replied, "Something about a voice mail you received while the boys were here working on the documentary. And that you haven''t gotten much cooperation from the authorities." "It''s not that they''re not cooperating, more that they have nothing to go on. The truth is, they''re not officially missing yet, since they''re not due back for a day or so. But after that voice mail . . ." "What can you tell us?" Sam asked. "They landed here after finishing up in Spain, documenting the lines of escape taken by some high-ranking Nazi officers who were fleeing to South America. I believe this is the project you were funding. They were looking for shipping records in Casablanca but got sidetracked after hearing a legend about a Nazi pilot rescued after the war. Apparently, he''d parachuted from the plane before it crashed, wandered the desert for days, and was rambling on about a map." Sam noticed Remi perk up at the mention. Maps intrigued her. "What was it of?" she asked. "That''s just it. Nobody knows if the story''s even real. The boys thought it might be a map of the ratline route. Naturally, they wanted it for their documentary. They left Casablanca for Marrakesh, and, from there, to a few villages located below the Atlas Mountains, to determine where the legend originated from and who knew of it. The last I heard, they were following a very promising lead on locating the plane. I''ve called their cell phones but it goes straight to voice mail, and they haven''t called back. The hotel staff here has been very gracious, letting me into their room to look for anything that might help. Their suitcases, extra cameras and equipment are there, but their backpacks and climbing gear are gone. They''re excellent climbers." He stopped to thank the waiter who poured water infused with mint leaves into their glasses. When they were alone again, he said, "Their rooms are booked until the end of the week, and the hotel manager feels that if they don''t return by then, he would be more concerned. They told him they were going to be gone for a while." "How long ago was this?" Sam asked. "He thinks about five days. I know what you''re thinking. They said they were going to be gone. But if you''d heard that message . . ." "Do you have it?" "I can play it for you. I think their reception was poor. Some of it cuts out. It''s in German, though." "Remi speaks German." He took out his cell phone, pulled up the voice mail message, then hit play, laying it on the table. They leaned in close to listen. Remi asked him to play it a second time so that she could write it down for Sam. "We found it! The plane! At camel . . . not sure. Shooting at . . . Maybe someone . . . out there . . . days." "You hear the excitement?" Albert asked her. "Or panic," Remi said. "Panic. That''s what I meant. And why I came. With the spotty reception, who knows what really happened." Sam asked, "When did this message come in?" "Maybe two days after they left the hotel for the trip to the mountains." He picked up the phone, giving a ragged sigh. "That''s the last I heard from them." He looked away a moment, his gaze drifting to the lobby. Suddenly, he stiffened. "That''s who they were with! I''m sure of it!" "What?" He pointed through the potted palms into the lobby. "That man in the blue shirt talking to the girl at the desk." Albe