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The Amber Room
Steve Berry
Adult Fiction BERRY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

First-time novelist Berry weighs in with a hefty thriller that's long on interesting research but short on thrills. Atlanta judge Rachel Cutler and ex-husband Paul are divorced but still care for each other. Rachel's father, Karol Borya, knows secrets about the famed Amber Room, a massive set of intricately carved panels crafted from the precious substance and looted by Nazis during WWII from Russia's Catherine Palace. The disappearance of the panels, which together formed a room, remains one of the world's greatest unsolved art mysteries. Borya's secret gets him killed as two European industrialists/art collectors go head to head in a deadly race to find the fabled room. Searching for Borya's killer, Rachel and Paul bumble their way to Europe, where their naivet? triggers more deaths. Berry has obviously done his homework, and he seems determined to find a place for every fact he's unearthed. The plot slows for descriptions of various art pieces, lectures and long internal monologues in which characters examine their innermost feelings and motives in minute detail, while also packing in plenty of sex and an abundance of brutal killings. A final confrontation between all the principals ends in a looming Bavarian castle where Rachel is raped. All the right elements are in place, but the book is far too long and not as exciting as the ingredients suggest. Readers may end up wishing Berry had written a nonfiction account of the fascinating story of the Amber Room and skipped the fictional mayhem. Agent, Pam Ahearn. (Sept.) Forecast: The Amber Room has been in the news again lately (a long New Yorker piece on its history ran earlier this year), because the panels are presently being re-created for the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg this year. The attention may spark interest in Berry's debut, but less-than-stellar word of mouth may cause sales to peak early. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Berry's debut novel is the second thriller in recent years (after Jonathan Harris's Seizing Amber) to deal with the legendary Amber Room, a magnificent work of art that the Germans looted from the Russians during World War II and has since been lost. Berry tells the story of two "Acquisitors," Christian Knoll and Suzanne Danzer, who are competing to find the room's sumptuous amber panels and exquisitely crafted furnishings. The wealthy collectors they work for belong to a club called the Retrievers of Lost (i.e., stolen) Antiquities. Complicating matters are Rachel and Paul Cutler, ex-spouses with a prickly relationship. Rachel is the daughter of Karol Borya, one of the last men still living who may know the fate of the Amber Room. When he is murdered, Rachel and Paul set out to discover the truth and find themselves growing closer as their own fate hangs in the balance. The author's thorough research into the art world dominates the story; even in the most desperate action scenes, Berry doesn't hesitate to inform the reader about the architectural surroundings and other objets d'art. (Unless you're an expert, keep your art dictionary handy.) Though the novel is uneven in pace, with frequent shifts in viewpoint and occasionally forced plot developments, the intriguing story and engaging characters are vivid enough to merit a recommendation to most popular collections. Art lovers, in particular, will enjoy the wealth of descriptive material. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/03.]-Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Rachel Cutler

Paul Cutler
Rachel's ex-husband.

Karol Borya
Rachel's father; knows the secret of the Amber Room.

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