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A Novel

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On Sale: August 26, 2003
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-345-46971-7
Published by : Ballantine Books Ballantine Group

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Read by Scott Brick
On Sale: November 27, 2007
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On Sale: February 06, 2007
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On Sale: January 16, 2007
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

The Amber Room is one of the greatest treasures ever made by man: an entire room forged of exquisite amber, from its four massive walls to its finely crafted furniture. But it is also the subject of one of history’s most intriguing mysteries. Originally commissioned in 1701 by Frederick I of Prussia, the Room was later perfected Tsarskoe Selo, the Russian imperial city. In 1941, German troops invaded the Soviet Union, looting everything in their wake and seizing the Amber Room. When the Allies began the bombing of Germany in August 1944, the Room was hidden. And despite the best efforts of treasure hunters and art collectors from around the world, it has never been seen again.

Now, two powerful men have set their best operatives loose in pursuit, and the hunt has begun once more. . . .

Life is good for Atlanta judge Rachel Cutler. She loves her job, loves her kids, and remains civil to her ex-husband, Paul. But everything changes when her father, a man who survived the horrors of World War II, dies under strange circumstances—and leaves behind clues to a secret he kept his entire life . . . a secret about something called the Amber Room.

Desperate to know the truth about her father’s suspicious dealings, Rachel takes off for Germany, with Paul close behind. Shortly after arriving, they find themselves involved with a cast of shadowy characters who all claim to share their quest. But as they learn more about the history of the treasure they seek, Rachel and Paul realize they’re in way over their heads. Locked in a treacherous game with ruthless professional killers and embroiled in a treasure hunt of epic proportions, Rachel and Paul suddenly find themselves on a collision course with the forces of power, evil, and history itself.

A brilliant adventure and a scintillating tale of intrigue, deception, art, and murder, The Amber Room is a classic tale of suspense—and the debut of a strong new voice in the world of the international thriller.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

ONE

Atlanta, Georgia Tuesday, May 6, the present, 10:35 a.m.

Judge Rachel Cutler glanced over the top of her tortoiseshell glasses. The lawyer had said it again, and this time she wasn’t going to let the comment drop. “Excuse me, counselor.”

“I said the defendant moves for a mistrial.”

“No. Before that. What did you say?”

“I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ ”

“If you haven’t noticed, I’m not a sir.”

“Quite correct, Your Honor. I apologize.”

“You’ve done that four times this morning. I made a note each time.”

The lawyer shrugged. “It seems such a trivial matter. Why would Your Honor take the time to note my simple slip of the tongue?”

The impertinent bastard even smiled. She sat erect in her chair and glared down at him. But she immediately realized what T. Marcus Nettles was doing. So she said nothing.

“My client is on trial for aggravated assault, Judge. Yet the court seems more concerned with how I address you than with the issue of police misconduct.”

She glanced over at the jury, then at the other counsel table. The Fulton County assistant district attorney sat impassive, apparently pleased that her opponent was digging his own grave. Obviously, the young lawyer didn’t grasp what Nettles was attempting. But she did. “You’re absolutely right, counselor. It is a trivial matter. Proceed.”

She sat back in her chair and noticed the momentary look of annoyance on Nettles’s face. An expression that a hunter might give when his shot missed the mark.

“What of my motion for mistrial?” Nettles asked.

“Denied. Move on. Continue with your summation.”





Rachel watched the jury foreman as he stood and pronounced a guilty verdict. Deliberations had taken only twenty minutes.

“Your Honor,” Nettles said, coming to his feet. “I move for a presentence investigation prior to sentencing.”

“Denied.”

“I move that sentencing be delayed.”

“Denied.”

Nettles seemed to sense the mistake he’d made earlier. “I move for the court to recuse itself.”

“On what grounds?”

“Bias.”

“To whom or what?”

“To myself and my client.”

“Explain.”

“The court has shown prejudice.”

“How?”

“With that display this morning about my inadvertent use of sir.”

“As I recall, counselor, I admitted it was a trivial matter.”

“Yes, you did. But our conversation occurred with the jury present, and the damage was done.”

“I don’t recall an objection or a motion for mistrial concerning the conversation.”

Nettles said nothing. She looked over at the assistant DA. “What’s the State’s position?”

“The State opposes the motion. The court has been fair.”

She almost smiled. At least the young lawyer knew the right answer.

“Motion to recuse denied.” She stared at the defendant, a young white male with scraggly hair and a pockmarked face. “The defendant shall rise.” He did. “Barry King, you’ve been found guilty of the crime of aggravated assault. This court hereby remands you to the Department of Corrections for a period of twenty years. The bailiff will take the defendant into custody.”

She rose and stepped toward an oak-paneled door that led to her chambers. “Mr. Nettles, could I see you a moment?” The assistant DA headed toward her, too. “Alone.”

Nettles left his client, who was being cuffed, and followed her into the office.

“Close the door, please.” She unzipped her robe but did not remove it. She stepped behind her desk. “Nice try, counselor.”

“Which one?”

“Earlier, when you thought that jab about sir and ma’am would set me off. You were getting your butt chapped with that half-cocked defense, so you thought me losing my temper would get you a mistrial.”

He shrugged. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”

“What you have to do is show respect for the court and not call a female judge sir. Yet you kept on. Deliberately.”

“You just sentenced my guy to twenty years without the benefit of a presentence hearing. If that isn’t prejudice, what is?”

She sat down and did not offer the lawyer a seat. “I didn’t need a hearing. I sentenced King to aggravated battery two years ago. Six months in, six months’ probation. I remember. This time he took a baseball bat and fractured a man’s skull. He’s used up what little patience I have.”

“You should have recused yourself. All that information clouded your judgment.”

“Really? That presentence investigation you’re screaming for would have revealed all that, anyway. I simply saved you the trouble of waiting for the inevitable.”

“You’re a fucking bitch.”

“That’s going to cost you a hundred dollars. Payable now. Along with another hundred for the stunt in the courtroom.”

“I’m entitled to a hearing before you find me in contempt.”

“True. But you don’t want that. It’ll do nothing for that chauvinistic image you go out of your way to portray.”

He said nothing, and she could feel the fire building. Nettles was a heavyset, jowled man with a reputation for tenacity, surely unaccustomed to taking orders from a woman.

“And every time you show off that big ass of yours in my court, it’s going to cost you a hundred dollars.”

He stepped toward the desk and withdrew a wad of money, peeling off two one-hundred-dollar bills, crisp new ones with the swollen Ben Franklin. He slapped both on the desk, then unfolded three more.

“Fuck you.”

One bill dropped.

“Fuck you.”

The second bill fell.

“Fuck you.”

The third Ben Franklin fluttered down.


From the Hardcover edition.
Steve Berry|Author Q&A

About Steve Berry

Steve Berry - The Amber Room

Photo © Kelly Campbell

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln Myth, The King’s Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 17,000,000 copies in 51 countries.
 
History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s this passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, that led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have traveled across the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers’ workshops. To date, nearly 2,500 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 their work was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve the first spokesman for National Preservation Week. He was also appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to serve on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board to help promote and support the libraries in their mission to provide information in all forms to scientists, curators, scholars, students, and the public at large. He has received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award and the 2013 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers. His novel The Columbus Affair earned him the Anne Frank Human Writes Award, and his historic preservation work merited the 2013 Silver Bullet from International Thriller Writers.
 
Steve Berry was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of more than 2,600 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.
 
For more information, visit www.steveberry.org.

Author Q&A

A Conversation with Steve Berry

Question: Where did the idea for The Amber Room come from?

Steve Berry: In 1995, I was listening to a program on the Discovery channel, not watching, only listening from another room. The narrator was talking about the Amber Room. I caught only the last few minutes of the show, but the idea fascinated me. Unfortunately, not enough information came from the television show for me to even know what the Amber Room was. I actually, at first, thought it was a painting. All I learned from the little I heard was that it was stolen from the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo and had not been seen since 1945. So I went to the bookstore and thumbed through Russian travel guides until I found a reference. It took several more months of research to formulate the novel's plot.

Q: What type of research did you do?

SB: At that time, there were precious few English version texts which dealt with the Amber Room. The Internet then contained little info, though today it’s full of relevant websites. I wrote the book with what I could find, then traveled to St. Petersburg in 1996 to see the work being done on restoring the Amber Room. The Russians had been laboring for more than a decade, trying to re-create the original from 1930s black and white photographs. After spending two hours with the chief restorer I realized a lot of the details I'd written were wrong. So I rewrote the book and fixed everything.


Q: What is the Amber Room?

SB: Created in the mid-18th century, many say it was the greatest achievement man ever accomplished with amber. The room was 100,000 pieces of jewel grade amber, cut to 5 mm thick, polished, sometimes heated to change the color, then glued jigsaw-puzzle-style onto oak panels and fashioned to walls 30 x 13 feet. There were also a variety of fanciful figurines, floral garlands, tulips, roses, sea shells, monogrammes, and rocaille, all of amber in glittering shades of brown, red, yellow, and orange. Incredibly, the amber panels survived a 170 years and the Bolshevik Revolution intact only to be looted by the Nazis in 1941. The panels disappeared in 1945 and have never been seen since. That, in and of itself, is fascinating. Where did such an incredible treasure go?


Q: What about your main characters?

SB: My protagonists are often lawyers, but they are lawyers doing some very unlawyerly things. I want them thrown into difficult situations for which they are ill prepared – but over which, in the end, they prevail. In The Amber Room, my protagonists are a female judge and her ex-husband, who is a probate lawyer. They are divorced from each other and, along the way to finding the Amber Room, they discover things not only about each other but about themselves. I also like to break stereotypes. The Amber Room has a potent male ensemble, but there are also two strong female characters who play an intricate role in the plot. So there’s a human angle to this globe-trotting treasure hunt.


Q: And how about accuracy, is the information in the book true?

SB: Most of the information contained within The Amber Room is true. I try to educate while entertaining. Readers can consult the Writer’s Note at the end of the book, which delineates where liberties were taken.


Q: How did the book make it into print?

SB: I first wrote the novel in 1995. It was submitted for publication in 1997 and was rejected by eighteen major publishers. The manuscript sat in a folder until February 2002 when I asked my agent if she would resubmit it. Usually, resubmission is a no-no, but she agreed and Ballantine Books bought the story in May 2002. Which only goes to show: never give up.

Praise

Praise

Praise for The Amber Room

“Sexy, illuminating, and confident. The Amber Room is my kind of thriller—a globe-trotting treasure hunt packed with exotic locales, sumptuous art, and ruthless villains. Steve Berry writes with the self-assured style of a veteran.”
—DAN BROWN
Author of The Da Vinci Code

“Magnificently engrossing, with wonderful characters and a plot that speeds, twists, and turns. Pure intrigue, pure fun.”
—CLIVE CUSSLER

“The Amber Room is a riveting cat-and-mouse game set within the world of international art thieves, assassins, and age-old rivalries. From the opening shocker set in a Nazi concentration camp to the chilling battle within a mountain-top castle, Steve Berry carries the reader on a harrowing journey into a past best left undiscovered. Not to be missed!”
—JAMES ROLLINS
Author of Amazonia and Ice Hunt

“Steve Berry has written a tremendous first novel. He weaves vivid details into a lightning quick read.”
—STEPHEN FREY
Author of Silent Partner

“Vivid, fast-moving, beautifully imagined, convincing!”
—DAVID POYER
Author of Black Storm and Fire on the Waters


From the Hardcover edition.

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