Gayle Lynds' national bestseller Masquerade was the most celebrated international suspense debut in years. People magazine named it "Page Turner of the Week," and the Los Angeles Times hailed it as a "gloriously paranoid, immensely satisfying international thriller." Now Lynds spins another bullet-fast tale in a sensational new novel packed with unforgettable characters, crackling dialog, and daring surprises.
While giving a gala performance at London's Royal Albert Hall, blind concert pianist Julia Austrian's sight returns as mysteriously as it disappeared ten years earlier when she was struck by a little-known psychological disorder. But her euphoria shatters after she witnesses her mother's murder -- a trauma that hurls her back into her dark and lonely world.
Blind, yet the only person who can identify her mother's attacker, Julia vows to find the killer. She abandons her celebrated, wealthy life, and unwittingly plunges into a violent whirlwind of deceit, lust, and greed, a conspiracy of hidden forces with the power to manipulate the law, the banks, the media -- and Julia herself.
Meanwhile, in a dark alley in Prague, a sex king's opportunistic employee sells incriminating documents.
In glitzy Monaco, a beautiful blonde seduces a police inspector into altering official records.
In an affluent New York City suburb, a charming old man riddled with guilt prepares to bring down one of the most influential families in America -- his own.
On the campaign trail, a coolly determined presidential candidate prepares to beat the pundits and the polls with a devious plan guaranteed to win him the election.
In Langley, Virginia, maverick CIA analyst Sam Keeline embarks on a forbidden journey to recover the fabled Amber Room -- a dazzling masterpiece that mysteriously vanished at the end of World War II. But his simple quest provokes horrific consequences, and suddenly he finds himself in the path of the relentless forces bent on destroying Julia.
Desperate but determined, Julia turns to hypnosis and regains her sight. Knowing that she can go blind in an instant, she joins with Sam Keeline to track down the sinister powers threatening the very foundation of America's political system. On the run, hunted and hated, the young couple races against time to piece together the seemingly random acts that form a vast and terrifying puzzle.
An electrifying, intricately plotted story that bristles with action and intrigue, Mosaic never stops accelerating from its first page to its last -- earning Lynds a place alongside the top thriller writers of our time.
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Gayle Lynds is the New York Times bestselling author of Masquerade and Mosaic, and co-author with Robert Ludlum of The Hades Factor and The Paris Option. Born in Nebraska and raised in Iowa, she has been a reporter for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, editor of Santa Barbara magazine, and a think-tank editor with top-secret clearance. She lives in California with her husband, novelist Dennis Lynds. Romantic Times magazine named Mosaic "thriller of the year." Visit her Web site: www.gaylelynds.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
7:58 PM, 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 manage her.
After all, Julia could have hired 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 Juilliard. 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 everywhere.
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 backstage area.
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 your sense of left and right, front and 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 impossible.
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 them.
"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 she said 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 fine."
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 with worry.
"The palms are a little tender." She was lucky this time. "After I play tonight, I'll rest a few days."
"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 and swelling.
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, doorjambs, 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 eighty stories.
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 more.
"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 wat
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110002247100