|“From London to New York,
Mosaic takes us on an adventure of a lifetime.”
The Literary Times
|“A cyclone of a thriller.”
|“Lynds is a think-tank
editor with top-secret clearance and breathes authenticity
into her artistic and political landscapes.”
St. Petersburg Times
|“Clever twists …
fast-paced plot … splendid action.”
|“Lynds has the top thriller
writer’s knack of juggling characters, locales,
secrets, and surprises while making the pages almost
|“Sex, spies, and Steinways
|“A relentless and riveting thriller. Readers won’t
be able to put this one down.”
|— Tess Gerritsen
|“Mosaic moves with the speed of an assassin’s
bullet. It has all the ingredients — international
intrigue, politics, and escalating danger — but
it’s also an eloquent parable on the corruption
of greed and the lust for power.”
|— Michael Connelly
While giving a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall,
blind pianist Julia Austrian’s sight returns as mysteriously
as it disappeared a decade earlier. Within hours, she witnesses
what seems like a simple robbery and murder.
Meanwhile, in upstate New York, a charming old man is secretly
trying to escape the home in which he’s held.
On the national campaign trail, a coolly determined candidate
prepares to beat the pundits and the polls with a devious
plan guaranteed to win the U.S. presidency.
And at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, maverick CIA
analyst Sam Keeline embarks on a forbidding journey to recover
the fabled Amber Room --- a priceless masterpiece whose disappearance
is considered the most enduring mystery of World War II.
As the mosaic pieces fit together in this electrifying political
thriller, Julia and Sam are hunted and hated as they track
down the relentless powers that threaten the very foundation
of America’s political system.
It is time to set the record straight and tell exactly what
MONDAY, OCTOBER 30
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK
It was two o’clock, and the afternoon sun beat through
the old man’s window. He was groggy from an injection
designed to keep him cowed and immobile. He resented them
all, every last one. Especially he resented their medicine
and diplomas, perfect covers for their real purposes. But
he had a plan. He was going to outwit them all and get the
hell out of this prison. A sense of urgency swept over him.
Only this young orderly had promise. He was greedy, and the
old man had always found greed useful.
"It’s real," the orderly whispered as he
pushed the old man’s wheelchair down the corridor toward
the thin October sunshine. "A full carat."
"Of course it’s real," he muttered. "I
wouldn’t waste my time if it weren’t."
"What?" the youth leaned down.
The orderly pushed him out onto the parklike grounds created
to assuage the guilt of the select few who could afford to
dump their old and unwanted here in the middle of nowhere.
In the summer, petunias and pansies bloomed brightly in neat
beds that lined the nursing home’s winding walks. But
it was late October now, and the beds were bare, waiting for
the first snowstorm. This carefully groomed complex with the
surrounding forests was owned by his sons, bought as an exclusive,
high-security jail to isolate him from his family and the
The orderly stopped the old man’s wheelchair under
a towering sycamore. Most of the leaves had fallen. The branches
were a bony thatch above them. From their position on a knoll
with the tree behind them, they could see the sweep of the
The old man sniffed the chill air, almost catching a good
memory. He shook his head. It was gone, as he would soon be
unless he got out of here. He turned his gaze to the orderly.
He was a square youth with a heavy jaw and naive eyes. He
needed a shave, but so many of them did these days. Yesterday
the boy had been a swaggering bully, but today he was concentrating
on earning another diamond.
"What did you do with the diamond?" the old man
"Like you said. I went to the bank in Armonk and got
a deposit box. I put it in there. I won’t sell it for
six months, when I go on vacation."
He studied the youth. "Sell it far away in some big
city where no one knows you. And then leave as soon as you
do. Listen to me. Pay attention. You don’t want the
law to stop you and ask questions." The boy had far worse
than the police to fear, but the old man wasn’t about
to tell him that.
"When do I get the other diamond?"
He smiled. Greed was his ally. "As soon as you send
these off." He looked around carefully, and from inside
the heavy coat that covered his hospital gown he pulled out
two packets. They were folded sheets of drawing paper wrapped
in brown paper and sealed with tape. He gave specific directions
to the boy.
One packet was addressed to a concert hall in London, the
other to the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia.
Except for the diamonds and some amber, which he’d
smuggled into this hellish institution, he’d had nothing.
He’d had to steal writing supplies from the craft room.
Over the past year he’d written what he remembered,
and he was still writing.
The youth grabbed the two packets and slid them inside his
short white jacket. "I get off work in a half hour. I’ll
drive into Armonk and mail them."
"That will do." His eyes narrowed. "Be careful.
Do a good job, and there’ll be more diamonds. I have
other tasks. I’m just beginning."
"More diamonds?" The orderly surveyed all around
as if suddenly worried. "Where do you keep them?"
He tried to sound innocent and concerned for the old man’s
welfare. "Perhaps we should find a better place. Somewhere
The old man chuckled. He’d been sent here to die, but
he was still outwitting them. He knew far more than they’d
ever thought possible. His chuckle grew until it engulfed
him. He roared with laughter. He shook. He had to wipe his
eyes. He waved his hand as the boy tried to shush him. And
he laughed harder. He thought eagerly about what would happen
when the packets arrived at Langley and in London. What he
didn’t know was that hidden in the bark of the giant
tree at his back was a recording device that would be listened
to within the hour.
PRAGUE, THE CZECH REPUBLIC
It was midnight, and a cold wind whipped off the black Vltava
River, cut through Jiri’s heavy coat, and bit into his
flesh. Shivering, he hurried across Charles Bridge toward
the spires, peaked roofs, and stately domes of crowded Old
Town. But what he longed for was the cheer and intimacy of
a smoky pub.
He was afraid.
The people he was occasionally forced to do business with
had ordered him to be on this route, a fat envelope of stolen
photos and copied documents under his arm. He’d learned
the hard way that once you accepted their money and promises
of protection you could never turn back. Jiri was his code
He had to do exactly as told.
Glancing nervously over his shoulder, he scurried past the
last of the bridge’s sculptured saints and straight
ahead on Karlova. Moonlight cast long, gloomy shadows from
the baroque and Gothic buildings. The odor of burning coal
stung his nostrils, and fear churned his belly.
At last he heard a folk tune ring softly from an alley he
was passing. He stopped, heart pounding, and leaned back against
a medieval stone wall. He pulled out a pack of Marlboros.
With shaky hands he hunched over, pretending to light a cigarette.
A voice said in Czech, "Allow me."
A concertina player in a thick plaid coat stepped from the
black alley. He wore a brimmed cap pulled low over his face.
He held up a lighter.
With quaking hands, Jiri returned the cigarette to his lips.
A Škoda car cruised by, its headlights sweeping the dark,
lonely street. The concertina player’s face was masked
by shadows. He watched the vehicle vanish around a corner.
Then he flicked the lighter, its flame erupted low and discreet,
and Jiri inhaled the cigarette into life.
"Thank you." Jiri relaxed his grip on the envelope
under his arm.
"It is nothing. Good night."
As he stepped away, the musician bumped Jiri. Apologizing
for his clumsiness, he swiftly exchanged Jiri’s envelope
for an identical one hidden between his concertina and his
Looking all around, the musician gave what appeared to be
a drunken chuckle. "Zivijo." Long life.
A new chill ravaged Jiri. He whispered, "I hope I have
given you everything you want."
"If not, you will hear from us." The musician’s
words were a threat. Then he threw back his head, caressed
his concertina, and strode away, playing and singing gaily:
A Bohemian lass, a golden beer . . .
Jirí scuttled quickly in the opposite direction, hugging
the darkest shadows. Now he must worry about tomorrow and
whether his employer, who was a great entrepreneur, would
discover the thefts. He thought about what he had copied and
stolen, went over all his movements, analyzed whether he had
left any sign--
And then he almost fainted with ecstasy as an idea struck
him. They must be after his employer now. That was what the
documents and photos meant. His employer. He smiled, his lips
pulling back over brown teeth in almost a grimace, a caged
animal desperate for relief. It was the only possibility.
He had to be right that it was his employer they wanted.
Surely he was right--
When he learned the woman had a suite at the legendary Hôtel
de Paris and had been ensconced in its opulence for three
weeks, Jean-Claude knew he’d go there with her eventually.
He’d wanted her from the first time he saw her at Jimmy’z
nightclub, sitting at a table overlooking the water. She was
trés belle. Magnifique. She was drinking champagne
at $40 a glass and grandly ordering it for the tables around
her and tossing her long golden hair back over her shoulders.
Her honey-colored skin gleamed in the table’s low lamplight.
Every time she laughed, her red lips curved up in a generous
bow, and her tiny white teeth showed. She laughed often.
"Champagne’s Monaco’s national beverage!"
she called in American-accented French as he stared across
the room. She grinned boldly. "Come drink with me!"
He sat with her.
She told him her first husband collected Jackson Pollack
and Jasper Johns and her second husband owned oil in Louisiana.
A lot of oil. She was divorced, she said, and thirty years
old. But she had a perfect body--all supple curves and alluring
hips. That night he watched her dance with the jet-set boys,
but she always came back to the table. To him.
He was a police inspector with a sexual appetite no one woman
could ever satisfy. After all, this was Monaco, where everyone
was rich and beautiful, where the famous and infamous flocked
to shelter their fortunes from taxes and to display them like
peacocks for one another. Here fabulous excess was de rigeur,
and amour was not only tolerated, the air was heady with it.
Of course, he was careful, but he did not deny himself. C’est
la vie. He was a man with a man’s needs. And he had
a particular weakness for American girls and their reckless
abandon, especially when they were wealthy and beautiful,
He thought about her all week.
Finally he went looking for her. He found her at another
bar, and she acted as if he were her long-lost best friend.
They drank. They listened to music. She wore diamonds and
gold and a very short designer dress that showed the insides
of her thighs. They arranged to meet at eleven o’clock
the next evening.
That went on four nights. The sexual tension between them
built until it was volcanic. Dangerous, the way he liked it.
Tonight they were back at Jimmy’z . She wore a sheer
white bodysuit. His crotch throbbed.
As soon as the music started, she jumped up on the stage.
While the instruments pounded, her hips coiled and thrust.
Her round breasts bounced and strained against the thin fabric
of her skin-tight bodysuit. She raised her arms high above
her head and closed her eyes, dancing to the relentless beat.
Breathing deeply, he ran a finger around the inside of his
collar. He smoothed his moustache. He adjusted the waistband
of his trousers. He never took his gaze from her. He needed
the chase, the electric charge of prey in his sights, and
the knowledge that as she moistened her lips and opened her
eyes and stared openly at him across the crowded, bejeweled
room that he would bring her down.
The music ended. He returned to sit at their table.
"You liked my little dance, mon ami?" She stood
His face was next to her belly. He inhaled her steamy, perfumed
scent. Already he could taste her.
Abruptly, he stood. "We will go now."
She cocked her head. "We will?"
"Oui." He took her arm and led her out into the
foggy Mediterranean night. "I will drive." He pulled
her keys from her evening bag, put her in the passenger seat
of her Ferrari, and got behind the driver’s wheel. He
gunned it away from the caravan of Bentleys, Rolls-Royces,
and Mercedeses parked outside the tony nightclub.
Her laughter pealed out, rambunctious, challenging.
The heat in his groin burned and throbbed. They went directly
to her hotel. As soon as they stepped into her luxurious suite,
she lifted her lips. He reached for her.
She danced backwards, pouting. "You Frenchmen--"
"Not French. Monegasque. Come here, Stacey. It is time."
"Ah, Jean-Claude--" she reached for the zipper
at the top of her low-cut bodysuit "--don’t you
want to see what you’re getting?"
He stopped, fascinated, and she pulled down the zipper. Her
honey-colored body seemed to explode from the cloth, luminous
and begging to be kissed and bitten and . . . she had shaved
her pubic area.
Something erupted inside his head. A thunderclap of desire
overcame him. American women did not shave there, but European
women did, and the combination of her American wildness and
the old European custom inflamed him.
He stalked toward her. She stepped out of the bodysuit and
threw it at him.
He caught it. "Stacey!"
And then she was on him, her honey flesh rubbing against
his clothes. His hands ran over her hot skin. His mouth devoured
her. He was insane with desire.
She unzipped his pants and seized his pulsing erection. He
She stroked it and whispered into his ear, "You want
He grabbed her hips and tried to pull her up so he could
enter her and get it over with. After he rested, he would
screw her again. And again. He would screw her until she could
not remember anyone else ever screwing her. Until she was
hurt and sore but it was so good that she begged for more.
He would screw away her cowgirl craziness night after night
until she was obedient, and then he could leave her forever.
He had to have her. Now.
She slid his cock between her hot, moist thighs and squeezed
it there, trapping him in ecstasy. "No, Jean-Claude.
Not just yet. I have certain requirements--"
As dawn broke in streaks of pink and lemon across the wintry
Riviera, the police inspector stumbled from the hotel, exhausted,
still excited. He had to go home to shower and dress for work.
Upstairs, still in bed, "Stacey" used a roving
number to call Georgetown. It was midnight there.
"It’s all taken care of," she told her employer
on the other side of the Atlantic. "He behaved exactly
as I expected. He’ll bring me the police records and
all the pertinent documents today. Otherwise he thinks he
won’t see me tonight. And he wants desperately to see
me tonight, tomorrow, and--"
The male voice on the phone was hard and authoritative. It
interrupted her, and she could hear urgency radiate from it.
"Get him to make the changes right away. The altered
documents must be in Berlin this afternoon. Then make certain
he knows his silence buys his life. After that, fly to London.
I’ve made the arrangements. Your next assignment’s
a theft. It’s vital . . ."
As her employer related the details, she peeled off her blond
wig. Her short, black hair fell free. She ran her fingers
through it, her mind focused on her next assignment--a theft
7:58 P.M., FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3
Julia Austrian was blind. Her blindness wasn’t caused
by birth defect, nor by tragic accident. Instead it was almost
as if the hand of God--or perhaps Satan--had reached into
her bedroom while she’d slept and squeezed the life
from her eyes. Her blindness had no known physical cause,
the doctors had told her. It was a psychological problem:
She was terrified of her audiences.
She’d never gotten used to being blind. Sight was a
memory that lingered like a dream, and she ached to be able
to see again. So she lied. She told interviewers that being
blind was an advantage to a pianist. She told her family she
was glad, because it enabled her to concentrate on her career.
She told the three men she’d loved that sex was better
being blind--pure emotion and physicality.
There was some truth in her lies.
She was on the road a lot throughout the United States, Europe,
and Asia. Her mother was her manager and her eyes, and together
they toured the world of music, from great concert halls to
intimate auditoriums, from grand rococo palaces to woodsy
county bowls. Critics raved about her power, her beauty of
tone, her complete technical command, and her temperament--that
elusive quality that infused every note with excitement. At
home, her wealthy, extended family thought the piano a strange
choice for an occupation, but everywhere audiences loved her.
It was one of those odd twists of life: She fed an audience’s
soul, and they hers. But because of them, she was blind.
Her mother--Marguerite Austrian--was her bulwark through
it all. Julia was her only child, and they’d developed
one of those unusually close relationships between adults
who have the same blood. They shared love and understanding
and an intense insecurity that was rooted in family tragedy.
Julia could get sappy about Marguerite. She could weep tears
of gratitude for all Marguerite had done for her. She could
feel ashamed for the easy life Marguerite had given up to
After all, Julia could hire people to do that. Wealth was
the fix of choice in her family, and Julia wasn’t shy
about applying it whenever necessary. But her mother brushed
off her concerns, and with the years Julia began to understand
this life of work and travel and being her sighted companion
was what her mother wanted.
In the end, it always came back to the music. To her father,
who’d recognized the talent in her and had sent her
to Julliard. And to her mother, who not only had made her
career possible through the ups and downs but had made much
of it a delight--practice, concerts, men, touring, her ongoing
struggle to do as much as possible for herself, the weight
training and jogging that built her muscles so she’d
play as strong as any man. Through the years her self-confidence
had grown. Now she felt she could face anything.
This Friday night they were at the Royal Albert Hall in London
for an evening to be broadcast live on the BBC. The air crackled
with excitement, and the scents of expensive perfumes were
She was eager to play. On the periphery of her consciousness
were the whispers of the stagehands as the backstage quieted,
while ahead the audience murmured and moved, as restless as
a just-tamed beast. But as Julia waited to go on, it was the
music that had her attention--throbbing through her brain,
her fingers aching for the keyboard.
She smiled. It was time.
"Now, dear." Her mother’s voice was satin
with hints of New York.
Julia released her mother’s arm and moved forward.
Before a concert, she memorized the path to her piano, and
then she walked it alone, without her white cane or tinted
glasses or someone’s helpful arm. Over the years, she’d
developed an inner sense of direction that was highly accurate.
Anyone could do that. Blindness was very mental--your ability
to think about what you were perceiving was the key.
What she didn’t notice was that her other inner senses
were asleep now, drowned by the soaring notes and complex
themes of the études she was about to play. Engrossed,
driven by her need for her Steinway, she strode through the
With staggering suddenness, she walked straight into something,
stumbled, and crashed down hard in the wings, completely disoriented.
Pain radiated from her right hip and hands. She gasped.
Feet rushed toward her.
"Julia!" Her mother was at her side, propping her
up. "Who left this stool here? Everyone was told to keep
the area clear. Get it out of here! Julia! Are you all right?"
Her mother helped her to her feet. Fear shot through her.
She was shocked not only by the fall, but by the disappearance
of her "facial sense." Most of the time, it was
almost as if her face could "see" a low-hanging
branch ahead, or an overstuffed chair, or a stool. Sweat broke
out on her forehead. When your life was lightless, you quickly
lost left from right, front from back. You dwelled in a sea
of black. Once you were off-balance, directions turned inside
out in the darkness, and your head rattled with chaos.
Heightened senses vanished. Deciding where to move next became
She had to pull herself together.
Heart hammering, she froze and took stock. Her wrists ached.
She must’ve landed on her hands a lot harder than she’d
realized. More fear shook her.
She couldn’t injure her fingers, hands, or wrists.
That’d be the end of her playing. Instantly she felt
"You’re hurt!" Her mother’s whisper
was a shout in her ear.
There was no sharp pain. "Nothing’s broken."
She relaxed with relief. Loudly to the stagehands and concert
staff whom she knew from their low, concerned voices had crowded
around: "I’m fine. Thank you. Really. I’m
Her palms were sore. They felt bruised. But she was determined
to play now, no matter what. Frantically she tried to recall
her schedule for the next few days. "What’s on
for tomorrow?" she whispered.
"We’re flying to Vienna. No concert for two days.
Why? It’s your hands, isn’t it? How badly are
you hurt, Julia?" Her mother’s voice was tight
"The palms are a little tender." She was lucky
this time. "After I play tonight, I’ll rest a few
"Shouldn’t you see a doctor right away? Get X-rays?"
"This is like the other times, Mom. Do you have some
aspirin in your shoulder bag?" That was for the inflammation
As her mother left, Julia analyzed the shocked hush around
her. No one’s facial sense was perfect, she told herself,
although hers nearly always was. She’d been distracted
by the music that filled her. In the beginning of her blindness
she’d constantly walked into walls, door jambs, and
street signs. What the sighted took for granted could still
be catastrophic for her. She could stumble into an open manhole
and break her neck. She could step off a balcony and plunge
The peril went with being blind, that and the bruises to
body and ego. But with her there was a greater terror. She
tried to push the fear away, but it was like a huge shadow
dug into her shoulders, looming, ready to overwhelm her with
the horror of never being able to make music again.
Sweat trickled down her face. Her breath came in frightened
pants. Around her silence waited, worried, embarrassed. She
mustn’t let the fear stop her, or be intimidated by
the scent of vicarious humiliation that floated thick around
her from those she couldn’t see.
Someone had inadvertently left a stool in her path. Nothing
"Can you play?" Her booking agent, Marsha Barr,
arrived at her side. Anxious.
"I don’t think she should." Her mother had
returned. She pressed two aspirin tablets into Julia’s
hand, and then a glass of water into the other.
"Of course I can play," she insisted. She took
the aspirin and drank the water.
"Really, I’m fine." She couldn’t disappoint
"How are your hands now?" her mother demanded.
"A little sore." Julia gave a wry smile. "But
I think we won’t have to amputate."
The low murmurs around her suddenly stopped, shocked. And
then the crowd chuckled with relief.
Marsha Barr laughed and patted Julia’s arm. "Well,
it seems things are getting back to normal." She stepped
away. "I’m going to tell the audience there’s
been a fifteen-minute delay."
As she left, Julia’s mother said, "Yes, amputation’s
a bit extreme. Imagine how it would disrupt the tour."
She gave a small laugh, but beneath the light tone Julia heard
her mother’s agony of apprehension.
Besides having facial sense, Julia could usually hear and
feel movement. It was all due to proprioceptors--tiny sensory
organs found in everyone’s muscles, tendons, and other
subcutaneous tissues, but largely ignored by the sighted.
Over the years she’d taught herself to feel air adjust
when an object moved. To hear minute sounds of impact on a
carpet, or a body joint creak, or a stomach roll. To feel
warmth as something living approached.
Tonight her facial sense was obscured long enough to crash
into the stool. It gave her pause. And it frightened her that
she could lose all her heightened senses just as she’d
lost her sight--
She calmed herself and concentrated. With a sudden familiarity,
she felt the air shift in front of her. Her heartbeat escalated
with excitement as a mysterious force she’d never understood
seemed to emerge from an enlargement of all her pores. With
that, she sensed her mother reach for her hands.
With an internal explosion of joy, she held them out.
Marguerite’s voice was indignant, but also relieved.
"Julia! Every time you anticipate me like that, you spook
Julia smiled. "Just my proprioceptors."
Then she waited nervously as her mother took her hands and
probed the fingers, palms, and wrists.
Marguerite said, "I think there’s nothing serious,
but I’d still like you to see a doctor."
In other words, her mother had confirmed her own conclusion.
Now Julia wanted to retreat into herself, prepare again to
play. Grow calm, distant, self-absorbed.
She said lightly, "Nothing’s broken, Doctor Mom.
You’ve diagnosed that yourself. In the morning, if they’re
no better, you can call in one of your colleagues."
"You’re all heart."
"I try to cooperate." With another surge of happiness,
Julia presented her cheek.
"Dammit, Julia! Will you quit doing that!" Her
mother had been about to kiss her.
Julia’s facial sense had told her that. "I love
you, Mom." She chuckled.
"I know, dear." Her mother sighed and kissed her
tenderly on the presented cheek. "I love you, too."
"I’m ready to play. Take me back to where we started
so I can count my steps and do it again."
"Is the stool gone?" Julia asked.
"Then I’m sure. Absolutely. Full speed ahead."
Julia walked confidently through the solid darkness. Her
long Versace gown rustled against her legs. Once more Liszt’s
études filled her with their great beauty. She seemed
to reverberate with the music, her heartbeat almost pacing
itself to the rhythms. Automatically her other senses again
As she stepped onto the stage, as if at a great distance
she felt the sudden heat of lights and an ocean of people.
The applause was so enthusiastic it thundered. Ahead on the
stage her Steinway grand piano waited only ten steps away.
She had it shipped to every concert. On arrival it was placed
in the center of the stage, voiced, and regulated to her specifications.
She’d rehearsed on it that afternoon and found it tuned,
agile, and graced with its usual sonorous sound. A joy to
Eight steps. Tonight she’d give her listeners something
very European--the Liszt Transcendental Études. Each
étude was different technically and stylistically,
and together the twelve were a monument to Romanticism. The
opening étude, Preludio, resonated through her, challenging
her to begin the extraordinary cycle.
Six steps. She’d been blind ten years now, her entire
professional life since her debut as an eighteen-year-old
at Carnegie. It startled her to realize how quickly the years
had passed. Her world wasn’t forbidding and hopeless;
it glittered as it had before, but now with odors, shapes,
tastes, textures, and--most especially--sound . . . music.
Four steps. Her skin prickled with tension, and her heart
Two steps. She was almost there. She knew the piano was beside
One step. She breathed deeply. She was the music, and only
Then in her stark blackness she saw a sliver of light.