Berry, Steve. The Amber Room. Ballantine. September 2003. c400p. ISBN 0-345-46003-0. $24.95. Fiction.

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.

LJ, 128, no. 11 (June 15, 2003), 98-99.

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