The Last Train to Kazan
Ryzhkov, a former Tsarist agent who appeared in A Game of Soldiers, returns to Moscow only to be picked up by the Bolshevik secret police. In return for his life, a former Okhrana comrade but now Cheka official Zezulin sends him on a secret mission to discover the fate of the Romanovs. By July 1918, the Revolution and the war in Europe had reached a crucial turning point, one that pivoted on a crucial question: what to do with the Romanovs? Ryzhkov arrives in Yekaterinburg, where they are rumoured to have been imprisoned, just as the hardline Ural Soviet collapses before the advance of the White Army and their Czech allies. In the shambles, rumours abound, as do foreign spies and journalists. This is a game of whose knife is in whose back. The Kaiser himself may be willing to pay for the Romanovs’ safety, but thousands of miles away on the western front the tide is turning against Germany.
Yekaterinburg is virtually cut off, and the railway is the only escape route. Cryptic telegrams from one foreign spy, the aptly named Todmann, request instructions for the delivery of the “furs,” but when he receives no answer, events start to move of their own accord. In the flux of war, Ryzhkov has to work with a motley cast of extraordinary characters, piecing together the shreds of evidence to track down the Tsar and his family. This extraordinary account is compulsive reading, melding the latest research and vivid period detail into a story that is all the more horrific because the truth will never be known.