This is the third Steve Berry novel I have read, and, unusually for me I have read them not in the chronological sequence that I usually read in. First up I was very impressed with his “The Romanov Prophecy” (2007) which I polished off not long after it came out. In those days I was not so meticulous about reviewing what I had read and it did slip through the net, but I remember enjoying this blend of fact and fiction. I wasn’t such a big fan of “The Venetian Betrayal”(2008). This was the third in the series of his Cotton Malone books and it felt like it was a mid-series book. It fell head-first into the hokum category that “The Romanovs” avoided. There were characters I cared little about and it took me quite a while to return to Berry. “The Amber Room” an earlier novel, is not quite up to his best but is a distinct improvement on the disappointment that was “The Venetian Betrayal”.
This is a stand-alone rather than a series novel. I didn’t actually know anything about “The Amber Room” (the room rather than the book). It was a Russian treasure of amber panelling from St Catherine’s Palace, taken by the Nazis and lost at some point. Seems an ideal starting point for an adventure genre novel! The stolen Nazi treasure plot-line features an American judge, Rachel Cutler, and her lawyer ex-husband who get dragged into the search for the amber room because of family connections. There are a couple of cartoonish baddies (one male, one female) employed by art collecting families and these are in competition with one another to discover the location of the panelling and will kill those who get in their way.
It reads well and like “The Romanov Prophecy” (which I think might be due for a re-read) there is a good blend of fact and fiction but without that little extra sparkle which made that book superior to this.
The Amber Room was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2003