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The Amber Room: A Novel Paperback – November 27, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Give this man credit: whereas most lawyers who decide to write a novel stay fairly close to home, Berry, a Georgia trial attorney, wanders far off the beaten path. Although his debut novel features a trial judge as its central character and opens with a pretty typical courtroom scene, it soon steps outside the courtroom--way outside. When Judge Rachel Cutler's father dies under suspicious circumstances, he leaves his daughter tantalizing clues to a decades-old secret: the Amber Room, an exquisite treasure that, so the legend goes, was appropriated by the Nazis when they invaded the Soviet Union. Now, to find out why her father died, and who's responsible, Rachel (with her ex-husband, Paul) heads off to Germany, where she hopes to find the truth about the Amber Room. Based loosely, very loosely, on certain historical events, the novel is plotted cleverly and written with style and substance. A welcome change from the usual legal-thriller fare from wanna-be Turows. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345504380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345504388
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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 over 20,000,000 copies in 51 countries.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It's his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers' workshops. To date, over 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; the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award; his novel The Columbus Affair earned him the Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and International Thriller Writers bestowed him the 2013 Silver Bullet for his work with historic preservation. A 2010 NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written.

Steve 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Juliette Bravo on December 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm a bit puzzled at all of the negative reviews of this book. It kept my interest and it's entertaining for what it is. The Nazi round up of art is an interesting topic, and I'm glad to see it touched upon in fiction. I'd never heard of the amber room, and I learned enough to make me search out more information. Granted, the writing is not exactly Dickens, but when I want to read Great Literature, I read the Greats.

People have a tendency to want to group novels rather than to take each story on its own merits. I've seen this book compared to "The DaVinci Code". I recognize the comparison, since its a mystery/thriller set in the art world, but that's where the similarities end. If you liked "The DaVinci Code," you might like this book, but if you're someone who has the need to compare everything and rank preferences, I can't say which is "better".

If I were required to complain about something, it might be that the bad guys (as in many stories) are more interesting than the good guys. I really didn't care too much about what happened to the protagonists, but I did find myself intrigued by the cat and mouse game played by the acquisitors. The concept of a group of Europeans sending operatives all over the world to obtain treasures that have already been stolen is intriguing. I'd like to see it explored further. Maybe in a future Berry book.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 11, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Steve Berry weaves a fictional thriller around the true saga of the famous Russian Amber Room, and provides a real treat for his readers.

Originally in the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, the Amber Room was a true wonder. The wall panels were made of amber, pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. During World War II, German soldiers made off with the panels and the decorative items inside (also made of amber). They have never been discovered, and their disappearance remains one of the great mysteries of the war.

Rachael Cutler is a judge in Atlanta, Georgia and her father, Karol Borya, was originally part of a Soviet group trying to find the Amber Room and other antiquities stolen by the Nazi's during the war. When her father dies under suspicious circumstances, he leaves her clues about the location of the Amber Room. Unfortunately, two unsavory characters are also involved in the search. Suzanne Danzer and Christian Knoll are "Acquisitors" who work for entrepreneurs who belong to a group called Retrievers of Lost Antiquities. The nine men who make up this group accumulate stolen treasures (with the help of their Acquisitors) for their private collections. Rachael and her ex-husband, Paul, take off for Germany to follow leads left by Borya. Unfortunately, Knoll and Danzer are following close behind, leaving many dead bodies in their wake. How this story plays out will have you quickly turning pages.

I like stories with Russian themes and also, books that weave true events into the story. Berry gives the reader both in The Amber Room. The history of the Amber Room is a fascinating one, as is the story of amber itself. Berry also gives us some history on the plundering of art by the Nazi's throughout Europe.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Nieto on September 7, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many, I was (and remain) intrigued by the mystery of the Amber Room, but even that premise could not get me through this tedious, poorly-written "thriller." My disappointment has nothing to do with comparisons with the DaVinci Code. This book stinks entirely on its own merits.

First, and foremost, let's start with the characters. Either Steve Berry has never met a woman, or he's never met a woman he liked. In his book, they're all ball-breaking bitches. The only difference between the "heroine" and the villianess is which side of the law they happen to be on. Also, the heroine acts in ways which are unbelieveably stupid. For example, she suspects foul play in the death of her father and believes the Amber Room has something to do with it. In the next minute, she tells a total stranger everything he could ever want to know about the Amber Room, and worse yet, goes off with this total stranger in the middle of Europe to an abandoned mine in the mountains without telling anyone her whereabouts? And this woman is a Judge?!?! Ooookay. The husband does almost the same thing, showing every single letter related to the Amber Room to some random woman he's known for about 5 minutes. I hope this lawyer never practices anywhere near me!

And the villians? The villians are a shade or two slightly more interesting than the main protagonists, but their actions are too stupid to be believed. They want to find the Amber Room, right? They find the only two living people in the world who might know its whereabouts and what do they do almost immediately? That's right, kill them! Of course! That makes perfect sense. Or, you know, they might've maybe held them and tortured them for information. Just a little suggestion.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There is much positive to be said of this work, and, as several reviewer's have pointed out, a few negatives also. This, for me was not one of those books I picked up expecting to be dazzled by the author's brilliant literary tallents. If I want to be bored out of my mind I will pick up some of James Joyce's work. I chose this one because I felt it would be a fun read, and it was. From a historical point, the author obviously did his home work. This was impressive. Yes, I agree with another reviewer's assessment that the author certainly has a problem with women and yet another, in that the few sex scenes were pretty poorly done and more than just a bit gratuitous, floating somewhere between silly and gross. On the other hand, this was a first novel, and I am sure his publisher wanted to get as much bang for the buck as they could...ergo, "lets throw in some sex."
The book did offer entertainment, held my interest, and I certainly did not regrete reading it. It was a good first try. I must admit to being a bit shocked at the apparent absolute venom injected into some of the reviews of this book. Hey, even at worse it was not all that bad. Perhaps it was because the author is a lawyer...hmmmm...just a thought. Anyway, I do recommend it as a pleasant way to drift through a weekend. Overall recommend. Just a note: Perhaps in future novels, the author could perhaps make at least one or two of his characters a bit more likeable. In this work, you really did not care if any or all of them made it alive through to the end, with the possible exception of the old man's cat.
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