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 historys 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 fathers 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 theyre 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.
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 wasnt 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 havent noticed, Im not a sir.”
“Quite correct, Your Honor. I apologize.”
“Youve 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 didnt grasp what Nettles was attempting. But she did. “Youre absolutely right, counselor. It is a trivial matter. Proceed.”
She sat back in her chair and noticed the momentary look of annoyance on Nettless 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.”
“I move that sentencing be delayed.”
Nettles seemed to sense the mistake hed made earlier. “I move for the court to recuse itself.”
“On what grounds?”
“To whom or what?”
“To myself and my client.”
“The court has shown prejudice.”
“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 dont recall an objection or a motion for mistrial concerning the conversation.”
Nettles said nothing. She looked over at the assistant DA. “Whats the States 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, youve 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.”
“Earlier, when you thought that jab about sir and maam 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 isnt prejudice, what is?”
She sat down and did not offer the lawyer a seat. “I didnt 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 mans skull. Hes used up what little patience I have.”
“You should have recused yourself. All that information clouded your judgment.”
“Really? That presentence investigation youre screaming for would have revealed all that, anyway. I simply saved you the trouble of waiting for the inevitable.”
“Youre a fucking bitch.”
“Thats going to cost you a hundred dollars. Payable now. Along with another hundred for the stunt in the courtroom.”
“Im entitled to a hearing before you find me in contempt.”
“True. But you dont want that. Itll 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, its 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.
One bill dropped.
The second bill fell.
The third Ben Franklin fluttered down.
From the Hardcover edition.