In Search of the Romanovs

A Family’s Quest to Solve One of History’s Most Brutal Crimes

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request. Sign In or Register Now
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date Jul 01 2024 | Archive Date Jun 30 2024

Talking about this book? Use #InSearchoftheRomanovs #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


In 1918 a famed general of the Russian White Army battled through the Red Army to save Emperor Nicholas II—but he arrived too late. The Romanovs had already been murdered.

In this thrilling true-life detective story, we follow Anna, the general’s courageous young daughter, who fled across the continent and boarded a ship with her husband to escape the bloodshed. Beneath her bunk was a box, and in this box lay grisly evidence of what had become of Russia’s royal family, the Romanovs. Generations later, Anna’s grandson Peter Sarandinaki set out to finish his great-grandfather’s mission to find the Romanovs’ remains, enlisting searchers and scientists to finally piece together the answers to some of history’s most perplexing questions: What really happened to Tsar Nicholas, Empress Alexandra, and their children? And what about the tsar’s brother, Mikhail, who simply disappeared?

Set against the disparate backdrops of the Russian Revolution and the twenty-first century’s leading DNA laboratories, In Search of the Romanovs weaves together historical records, forensic science, and the diaries, recollections, and experiences of Sarandinaki’s own family. Follow Sarandinaki as he fits together the final fragments of the mystery: a piece of topaz jewelry, a blood-stained shirt once worn by Tsar Nicholas II, the fabled Sokolov box, and clandestine initials carved into a tree. A riveting and deeply personal story, In Search of the Romanovs reveals hidden truths in the legends about the murder and disappearance of Russia’s most famous royal family.

In 1918 a famed general of the Russian White Army battled through the Red Army to save Emperor Nicholas II—but he arrived too late. The Romanovs had already been murdered.

In this thrilling true-life...

Advance Praise

“A remarkable family saga.”—Marilyn Swezey, historian and coeditor of The Romanovs Under House Arrest: From the Diary of a Palace Priest

“Cold case murders are difficult to solve—especially when they are a century old and exist in a closed and secretive society. . . . Peter Sarandinaki navigates the labyrinth of clues, nineteenth-century maps, murder confessions, DNA, and politics to make a brilliant addition to history.”—Brook Schaub, forensic investigator and member of the SEARCH Foundation

“Thanks to Peter Sarandinaki this tumultuous period of Russian history is beginning to open its secrets, not least the fate of Grand Duke Michael Romanov, exiled into the dark forests of the western Urals.”—John Hunter, coauthor of Forensic Approaches to Buried Remains

“Interested in international history, the murder of royalty and saints, and religious intrigue? I am honored to introduce Peter Sarandinaki and his fascinating family. . . . With the leadership of a navy veteran and sea captain, the charisma of a politician, and devotion to his family and the Russian Orthodox Church, Sarandinaki is a master of navigating obstacles and barriers to any adventure.”—Clark Davenport, forensic geophysicist and founder of NecroSearch International

“Peter Sarandinaki shares his family’s incredible story of love, survival, and escape from revolutionary Russia. In this extraordinary book he combines this story with the death, secret burial, and, decades later, the discovery of skeletal remains of the family of Russia’s last emperor. Sarandinaki masterfully connects with world-renowned scientists who not only confirm the identity of the bones but finally reveal the brutality of the deaths of Nicholas II and his family, including exposing the truth about their youngest daughter, Anastasia.”—Margarita Nelipa, author, historian, and a member of the SEARCH Foundation

“A remarkable family saga.”—Marilyn Swezey, historian and coeditor of The Romanovs Under House Arrest: From the Diary of a Palace Priest

“Cold case murders are difficult to solve—especially when...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781640121560
PRICE $39.95 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send to Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 21 members

Featured Reviews

I am not really a non-fiction reader, but I do love the Romanov's, so I took a chance. I would say that it was very good for a non-fiction book.

Was this review helpful?

I would imagine that a book of this sort would appeal to a very small crowd, but fortunately, I am one of them. I have been interested in the Romanovs for a long time, but I never found anything that told me the story that this one does. Wonderful book

Was this review helpful?

“Uncovering bones was one thing; uncovering buried resentments was quite another.” (page 136) While the bones of the Romanovs were buried over a hundred years ago, their story continues to fascinate readers and armchair historians worldwide. Sarandinaki comes to the story from a different angle than most, having a personal connection to the secret investigations of the assassinations and then later participating in the inquiries. Sarandinaki’s ties give us the first part of his book, which focuses on his grandmother Anna and her life as nobility in Russia as the country turned towards revolution and later communism. Through his grandmother and great-grandfather, he manages to bring the reader into the atmosphere of 1918’s Russia and the following years of political terror and tension.

Sarandinaki effortlessly balances his discussions of the mystery's details, providing enough details to satisfy the more knowledgeable true crime readers while supplying sufficient context and explanation for those unfamiliar with forensic techniques. He manages to do the same in his discussions of Imperial Russian culture. Though he clearly remembers the homeland his grandmother described fondly, he certainly does not hesitate to criticize Russia, especially as the book continues and he steps into the role of mediator and liaison between American and Russian scientists.

While he may have only set out to fulfill his great grandfather’s wish to solve the mystery of the Romanovs’ deaths, Sarandinaki accomplishes much more. He gives his readers insights into the last years of imperial Russia and life afterward. He showcases the White Russians emigrating to escape communism and finding themselves both as a community and at odds with one another.

In the end, Sarandinaki fulfills his great-grandfather’s wish to find the truth of the Romanov’s murders. However, he is still working to achieve his own goal— to provide all the assassinated Romanovs with a proper burial according to their religion and sainthood.

Was this review helpful?

this was a really interesting concept for a historical true crime nonfiction book. It had everything that I was hoping for and enjoyed from the Romanov period. I was invested in what was going on and thought it worked well with what I knew from the Romanovs. Peter Sarandinaki has a great writing style and I enjoyed the way it was written.

Was this review helpful?

This was a great book. The subject could have easily become a little dry and boring, but the interspersing of the historical events, the years of searching, and the author's personal family stories worked together very well. Though I knew a decent amount about the search's discoveries going in, I didn't realize there were still things up in the air, and I do wish that maybe it was being published a few years from now instead, after these final questions are resolved.

Was this review helpful?

5 stars

This wonderful book is the comprehensive story of the search for the assassinated family of Tsar Nicholas II and his entire family in 1918 Russia.

The sad story begins with the horrible killings of the royal family as well as some of their loyal servants. When the killers went to destroy the bodies, they ran into all kinds of problems. Thankfully, they did a sloppy job.

Several interested and devoted persons went in search of the bodies. There is where it all began.

The book outlines the multitude of problems they ran into along the way. At first the USSR resisted. Then arguments between various scientists, governments and church authorities. There were arguments between the Romanov survivors and descendants. The search for the truth was slowed to a crawl.

It was a very time consuming and frustrating search. If only the different parties would have cooperated, think what could have been accomplished!

The book is well written and researched. It reads smoothly and fairly quickly. It covers all aspects of the search for the truth as well as the Anastasia mystery. The book is not at all dry. It is more like telling a story - a true story. There is a short bibliography at the end for those who would like to further explore the deaths and subsequent consequences.

I want to thank NetGalley and the University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books for forwarding to me a copy of this interesting book for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.

Was this review helpful?

Highly enjoyable and remarkably informative, this book seamlessly intertwines with the curriculum of a Russian History class. Its engaging narrative and rich content make it an ideal resource for students and educators alike. The detailed exploration of key historical events and figures provides valuable insights into Russia's complex past, making it easy for readers to grasp and appreciate the intricacies of Russian history.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to netgalley for the DRC.
The hunt for the lost princess Anastasia and the rest of her family was elusive.could she have escaped, or was this nothing more than historical fiction….
I was skeptical when I began reading, but I’m so glad I gave this book a chance. What I thought was going to be full of conspiracy, was informative and enlightening and based on scientific reasoning.
Throughout the book, the author mentions his late grandmother and how she helped uncover the mystery with a well guarded family secret,

Regardless of my personal feelings about the Romanov's, I admire all the research that went into finding their remains and at last be laid to rest properly.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed reading this summary of all the investigations to try to find the Romanov family remains. It's a detailed review of all the different finds, medical investigations and politics but it's through the lens of the author's family history, which is a different perspective. I really enjoyed the history/family lore he shared of his grandmother (and extended family) and her experiences as well as getting a few more glimpses into some of the conflict/disagreements in the scientific community around the remains/investigations.

I received an advance readers copy from the publisher and net galley to review.

Was this review helpful?

Nonfiction books can be hard to suggest to people, you hear nonfiction and immediately think of boring books. However I’m so glad that books like In Search of the Romanovs exist, to show that nonfiction can be fascinating, educational, and eye opening.

If you like CSI, historical fiction novels, true crime, or the legend of Anastasia I think you will definitely enjoy this book.

The story of the Romanov family has fascinated people on an international scale for over a century. The author approaches this famed story with a personal connection, and his passion for this subject is evident on every page.

This nonfiction story is told in 2 parts. The first part through the memory of the author’s grandmother, Anna. Detailing her family’s perilous journey as they fought for their lives, and eventually fled their homeland of Russia when the Bolsehviks rose to power and slaughtered the Imperial family.

The second part is told through the author’s own perspective. Explaining how he ended up being a champion for the discovery of the Romanov family. Helping to uncover the truth of what happened to them, and provide a proper burial to honor their memories.

The first part of this book read more like a historical fiction novel, it was a heartbreaking journey that Anna and her family had to endure. The sheer strength they showed during the destruction that surrounded them was astonishing.
The second part is written more like a true crime story. It can get pretty technical with all the forensic details, but the author did such a great job at explaining the process of forensic sciences. I’m not the most scientific minded person, if I could understand it you can too! Part 2 also shows the political loopholes that had to be found in order for the research teams to get around Russian bureaucracy.
I learned so much from this book, and highly recommend it. It was heartbreaking, educational, and full of hope. This was a fantastic way for the author to honor his grandmother and those like her that faced a dangerous adversary and chose to stand up to it.

“In that way, what Anna began, a century ago, will move forward, generation by generation, and perhaps we’ll care more about justice, more about our history, and more about the kind of place the world needs to be.”
My rating is 4.5/5

Was this review helpful?

I have been interested in the Romanovs since seeing a movie about them in middle school. Then came the Anastasia movie, which continues to be one of my favorite animated films. Then later I wrote a report on the use of mitochondrial DNA to identify the Romanov remains. Needless, to say, I continue to be fascinated by this story and now I can add Peter Sarandinaki’s account to my knowledge. I enjoyed how the story unfolded as if Peter himself was telling you his experience over dinner which helped prevent the story from being the dull recounting that some non-fiction can be. He also manages to make the reader feel invested the whole way through, to the point that I now find myself wondering when, if ever, the Russian Orthodox church will accept the buried remains as actually being the Romanovs.

Was this review helpful?

History is one of my loves and I have always been enamored with the assassination of Czar Nicholas II and his entire family by the Bolsheviks during the revolution.

This account reads like a crime novel told from the point of view of a family that had ties to the Romanovs and stories passed down through generations about the murders. The author, the recipient of those stories, takes on the task of discovering the bodies buried unceremoniously by their killers and identifying them so there would be no doubt to their identity. Along his journey he will dispel the rumors of a surviving daughter and bring to rest what really happened.

Science is the winner here, where strides in DNA research has made it possible to identify remains from so long ago. An interesting read.

Was this review helpful?

What a gift this book is to those interested in the Romanovs. Author Peter Sarandinaki's ability to intertwine his family's history that is related to the Romanovs with that of his search for their remains leads the reader on a truly gripping journey. The exhaustive research presented grounds the reader in an understanding of the key players and all of the moving parts (and obstacles overcome) in order to allow for a proper burial of the family. Absolutely fascinating and a book that will stay with me!

Was this review helpful?

I had huge hopes for this book. Perhaps the description is what set my expectations askew. After going through a full history of the narrators connections with a relative we find their connection with the Romanoffs. This part was intriguing but read very text book and dry. That's okay though as I saw this as a lead up. I was woefully disappointed to real the approximation of 3rd party accounts. I was hopeful when the author became involved. Then disappointed. I understand the authors want, even need to write this book, but the story left a lot to be desired.

Was this review helpful?

Wow, this is packed with information and so much detail! I am not extremely knowledgeable on this subject but have always been interested. The writing can feel a little choppy and doesn’t have that overall polish of a mass marketed book. But I quickly became absorbed in the story and actually ended up feeling this added to the charm! It’s incredibly touching what great lengths the author went to, in order to tell his grandmother’s story and not have it lost. The history can be complicated but feels accessible and is balanced with emotion and personal impressions. It does get bogged down in parts but overall I learned a lot and enjoyed this exclusive perspective.
Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to the author and publisher for making this book freely available via NetGalley. My review is my honest opinion.

I chose In Search of the Romanovs because the topic of the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution interested me since reading/watching books and movies that were directly based on those topics. I tend to prefer nonfiction told in a more narrative style, so the start of this book was satisfying. However, the chapters that detailed the background (lead up to the revolution) were dryer and more like a history text book. As the investigation began, it became more narrative, but also repetitive. It did present a lot of information in a prose that was relatively easy to follow except for some of the detailed scientific explanations.

Overall, it was informative but I think I was looking for a book that went into more detail about the revolution itself. Still, it would probably be of interest to someone specifically interested in The Romanovs and forensic investigations. If I could use half stars, I would rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Was this review helpful?

This was really fascinating, particularly the sections on White Russians migration post-Revolution. I think I had expected this to be a bit more straight history as opposed to familial memoir which was my own failing. I also really liked the insight on the search for the bodies of Grand Duke Michael and his secretary as that is a portion of the story that often gets glossed over. As ever though, the tragedy of this story really gets to me.

Was this review helpful?

Lots of information and lots of details. Clear, concise and easy to read. My thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book

Was this review helpful?

As a true crime fan I can't believe I hadn't heard about this before. I am amazed at how horrific people can be in today's society.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: