In the harrowing aftermath of Chernobyl’s meltdown in 1986, the fate of Eastern Europe hangs by a thread.

About the Novel

Set in 1986, the Trans-Mongolian Express, is a transcontinental rail journey that begins in Beijing and ends in Moscow 6 days later. The train crosses from China into Mongolia, then into the far east of the Soviet Union. Along the way, the train passes the Great Wall of China, through the Gobi Desert, Lake Baikal in Siberia, the Ural Mountains – the traditional dividing line between Europe and Asia – the Russian steppes, coal fields, and industrial cities on the way to Moscow.

In the close background are the tragic and world-shaking events of Chernobyl, the nuclear reactor incident in Ukraine in the spring of ’86. Each passenger in the book has a relation to the incident and a secret to hide, at all costs.

From the Author

After years of writing of wide-sweeping historical novels, I wanted to try my hand at a more focused setting. You don’t get more focused or intense than a murder on a train. I’ve always held closely to the tenet that if you want to know what characters are made of, have them want something terribly, fear something awfully, or need something desperately. I hope you enjoy Trans-Mongolian Express and see in the book a great adventure in an epic time period.

David L. Robbins
Richmond, VA

Photo Gallery


Patria, Haifa Harbor, November 1940

King David Hotel

King David Hotel, destroyed by Irgun bombers, July 1946.


Exodus 1947



Nebi Daniel

Nebi Daniel, the site of a fierce battle, north of Massout Yitzhak/Isaac’s Beacon.


Defenders of the Nebi Daniel convoy.

Goldschmitt House

Goldschmitt House, Jerusalem, British Officer’s Club, destroyed by Irgun bombers, March 1947.

Deir Yassin

Deir Yassin, site of a fierce battle at a terrible cost.

Masuot Yitzhak

Masuot Yitzhak/Isaac’s Beacon on the Judean Plain, 1947.

Jewish and Arab land ownership

Jewish and Arab land ownership, Palestine 1947 .

The four settlements of the Etzion Bloc

The four settlements of the Etzion Bloc: Kfar Etzion, Massout Yitzhak, Revadim, and Ein Tsurim.

UN-Proposed Partition Plan

UN-Proposed Partition Plan, November 1947.

Operation Nachshon

Operation Nachshon to open the Jerusalem Road.

Tower and stockade Jewish settlement

Tower and stockade Jewish settlement, established overnight.

eucalyptus grove

Two British sergeants hanged in a eucalyptus grove in reprisal by the Irgun, Netanya, July 1947.

Sergeants Grove

Sergeants Grove

Citrus House

Citrus House, Tel Aviv, target of a thwarted Irgun bombing plot.

Russian Compound prison

Russian Compound prison in Jerusalem where Irgun dissidents were held by the British Mandate police force.

Roadblock buster

Roadblock buster, at the head of the Nebi Daniel convoy.

Sten gun

Sten gun manufactured by underground Irgun weapons fabricators.

Kibbutz Kfar Etzion

Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, 1948.