When seven-year-old Ethan du Maurier, only son and heir of New York City real estate tycoon, Alexander du Maurier, disappears during school recess, the FBI quickly determines that his disappearance was an abduction. Within hours of a special news bulletin airing nationwide, the FBI’s hotline is inundated with anonymous tips relating to sightings of a little boy matching Ethan’s description outside a historic Savannah building, now a newly-renovated eatery. The FBI quickly assembles a task force and searches the premises but instead of finding little Ethan, they stumble upon the century-old remains of what appears to be a murdered man hidden in a pirate’s tunnel under the historic building.
With her restaurant on temporary lockdown pending the FBI’s forensic investigation, owner Annie Eastwood researches the history of the building she inherited, hoping it will shed some light on the identity of the murdered man, but what she uncovers are bits and pieces of a horrible scandal that nearly destroyed the du Maurier family over a century ago. With hopes for Ethan’s safe return dwindling by the hour, Annie finds an unlikely lead in an old classified ad from a Boston newspaper which connects the events of the past to the present-day abduction of Ethan du Maurier—and to the identity of his abductor. Determined to rescue little Ethan before time runs out, Annie quickly realizes that the boy’s abductor will stop at nothing—even murder—in order to exact his revenge.
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Excerpt from CONTINUANCE
Annie Eastwood strode through the main floor of her restaurant, a look of satisfaction on her pretty face. Every table was occupied, the bar was standing room only and there was a line-up wrapping halfway around the building. A pretty impressive opening, thank God, but then she was going to need plenty more nights like tonight if she was going to see any return on her investment. Although she had inherited The Bean and Pole upon her mother’s death, the building, once a thriving souvenir shop in her father’s day, had been in a state of total disrepair by the time her mother died. Annie had decided to reopen as an eatery/souvenir shop and had sunk her life savings – what little she had left after her divorce – into the necessary remodel. The finished product was an eclectic mix of southern charm and understated comfort that fit in perfectly with the rest of the shops and restaurants that lined Savannah’s cobblestoned riverfront.
“Annie!” Cora, one of her more flamboyant servers, hurried over to her. “Would you mind checking on my crab cakes for table 14? My customers have been waiting over 45 minutes and I just know they’re gonna pounce next time I walk by empty-handed.”
“I’m just on my way to the kitchen now,” Annie told her. “Apologize profusely and give them an appetizer on the house.”
Cora gave her a grateful smile before rushing off to tend to her table. Annie continued towards the kitchen, noting that several stations were running low on clean plates and other supplies but for the most part, the wait staff seemed to take things in stride as they manned the floor with controlled efficiency. One of the customers mistook her for a server and asked for a coffee refill. After pouring him one and chatting briefly, she picked up his dirty dishes before continuing on her way.
The situation in the kitchen was in direct contrast to the cool efficiency outside its doors. Here, chaos reigned supreme as everyone scurried about making salads, grilling meat, sautéing vegetables and plating food. Over the clanging and banging of dishes and pots and pans and the general exchange between the wait and kitchen staff, she could hear Chef Rodrigo firing orders to everyone within hearing distance.
“Rodrigo!” she called out. “How much longer for table 14’s crab cakes?”
“Depends when we get our next order,” he replied, marching over to a clipboard hanging from the wall. “Try Friday.”
“Friday!” Annie wailed. “We’re only an hour into the dinner rush and one special’s already sold out.”
“Make that almost two,” called out the sous chef. “We’re down to our last four orders of catfish!”
Annie felt her earlier complacency evaporate, only to be replaced with the beginnings of a headache. She rubbed her temples, suddenly bone-tired. “Let’s take stock. What have we got lots of?”
Rodrigo did a quick trip to the walk-in fridge, returning a minute later. “Get them to change the boards to snapper and also add fettuccine Alfredo.”
“Right. Fettucine and snapper it is.”
About to bustle out of the kitchen, she stopped dead in her tracks when six men, wearing bullet-proof vests with FBI branded across their chests, came rushing in through the back door brandishing weapons pointed directly at them.
An authoritative voice barked out, “This is the FBI! No one move!”
“Is this some kind of a sick joke?” Annie demanded, turning to the man closest to her. “A candid camera prank or something?”
“Are you in charge of this establishment, Ma’am?” he asked, his tone deadly serious.
“Yes,” she replied in confusion. “I’m Annie Eastwood and I own this place.”
“I’m Special Agent Dewhurst and we’re here to execute this search warrant,” he told her, shoving a folded document in her hands before turning to his agents. “Frawley, you take Connor and his team and cover the top floor. Sibley, you and your team cover the middle floor and me and the others will take this level. Make sure no one leaves the premises.”
Annie unfolded the document and scanned its contents, most of which was in legalese and meant nothing to her. When she saw the name “Ethan du Maurier”, her heart began pounding in her chest. “Ethan du Maurier – isn’t he the child of that New York City real estate tycoon that everyone’s searching for—” That’s when realization dawned on her. “Oh come on! You don’t think for a minute that I had something to do with that child’s disappearance, do you? For God’s sake, I don’t even know the boy from Adam!” Annie sputtered in indignation. “Why, this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!” Maybe it was the heat or the lack of sleep the past three days, but Annie suddenly felt faint and blindly reached for the counter to steady herself.
Agent Dewhurst went and got a chair for her. Sinking into it weakly, she buried her head in her hands. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
The agent spoke up, his tone a bit more humane. “I’m going to have to ask all of you to stay put while we conduct our search.”
“What about my customers?” asked Annie, jumping up. “You can’t just keep them here like prisoners.”
“Once they’ve been questioned, they’ll be allowed to go,” he reassured her before turning to his team. “Let’s get started.”
Annie sank back down in her chair, with everyone huddling around her.
“At least now we have a legitimate reason for the food coming out late,” remarked Rodrigo, trying to lighten the situation.
“This is just great,” Annie mumbled half-heartedly, “nothing like an FBI search to kill business.”
“Don’t worry, Annie,” said one of the servers, “they’ll be in and out quickly once they realize the kid’s not here.”
“But what would even make them think that he was here?” asked Annie, utterly perplexed. She looked at the search warrant again but it provided little in the way of information.
At that moment, Agent Dewhurst came back. “Ms. Eastwood, could you come with me, please?” His tone was polite.
Annie followed him to her office.
The agent pointed to the far office wall which was out of stone and part of the original structure that hadn’t been drywalled. There was a hand-forged iron ring handle embedded in the stone and two FBI technicians in overalls were chipping away at the mortar between the stones. “Can you tell me what’s behind here?”
“I have no idea,” she replied honestly. “From what the locals told my father, the wall’s supposed to open up to a passageway that goes underground. This historic building is one of the few on the riverfront that have one. As far as I know, it’s been cemented shut since before my parents bought the place in the sixties,” Annie explained.
“I don’t suppose you know where the passageway leads, do you?”
“Probably into another tunnel under the city or maybe the river,” she told him. “Legend has it that these tunnels were built by the British troops as an escape route and then later used by pirates and were even part of the Underground Railroad.”
Agent Dewhurst turned to one of the technicians working on the wall. “How much longer?”
“The mortar’s old and it’s giving away easily,” he replied. “It shouldn’t be long now.”
Despite her apprehension, Annie was curious to see the passageway. As a young girl, she had fantasized about a gorgeous explorer coming along and whisking her away onto his ship through the passageway.
“We’re ready to move it,” announced the other technician. He had a crowbar in his hand, clearly waiting for Dewhurst’s signal.
“Go ahead,” Dewhurst told them.
In the end, it took the combined strength of the two technicians, Dewhurst and two other agents to move the wall. Dewhurst produced a flashlight from his pocket and trained it down the passageway.
“What do you see?” asked the other agent.
“Dust and cobwebs and not much else,” he replied. Turning to the others, he announced, “I’m going in.”
Two more agents followed him inside. Watching as the technicians began gathering up their things, Annie was surprised when one of the agents called to her from inside the tunnel. The technician on her left handed her a flashlight. With her heart thudding against her chest, Annie entered the passageway, shining her beam towards the sound of voice.
“Watch your step,” Dewhurst called out to her. “The passageway quickly slopes downward right about where you are now.”
He and the rest of the men were gathered in a semi-circle and were looking down at something on the ground. Coming up beside them, Annie suddenly felt something around her ankle and gave it a small kick. Shining her light down by her foot, she saw some bones. Trailing her light along the wall, she saw more bones which ended with a skull.
Annie stared at Agent Dewhurst wide-eyed. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Human remains,” he confirmed.
“You don’t think I had anything to do with this, do you?” she asked.
“I doubt that.” The agent knelt down to get a closer look at the skeleton. “By the looks of things, it’s been here quite some time – probably longer than you’ve been alive.”
ABOUT MARTA TANDORI
By the time Marta Tandori reached fifth grade, she was an avid reader and writer with a stack of short stories collecting dust in a box under her bed but it wasn’t until she began studying acting in her early twenties at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York that Marta realized acting wasn’t really her passion – writing fiction was. What followed was years of writing workshops as well as correspondence courses in writing for children through the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut. She credits the award winning author, Troon Harrison, as the instructor who helped her find her literary voice. Marta’s first work of middle-grade fiction, BEING SAM, NO MATTER WHAT was published in 2005, followed by EVERY WHICH WAY BUT KUKU! in 2006. With her more recent endeavors, Marta has shifted her writing focus to “women’s suspense”, a genre she fondly describes as having “strong female protagonists with closets full of nasty skeletons and the odd murder or two to complicate their already complicated lives”. To learn more about Marta, visit her blog, The Marta/Kindle Project at http://www.martatandori.com.
Visit her website at http://www.martatandori.com
Continuance Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule
Monday, August 5 – Book review and 1st chapter reveal at Miki’s Hope
Wednesday, August 7 – Guest blogging at From the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 8 – Book reviewed at Kaisy Daisy’s Corner
Monday, August 12 – Guest blogging and 1st chapter reveal at Inside BJ’s Head
Tuesday, August 13 – Book review and Guest blogging at Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, August 15 – Interviewed at Review From Here
Monday, August 19 – Book reviewed at Love Books! Book Reviews
Monday, August 19 – Guest blogging and 1st chapter reveal at Cindy’s Love of Books
Tuesday, August 20 – Book featured at Beyond the Books
Wednesday, August 21 – Book featured at My Cozie Corner
Friday, August 23 – Interviewed at Book Marketing Buzz
Monday, August 26 – Book featured at My Devotional Thoughts
Tuesday, August 27 – Guest blogging at The Writer’s Life
Thursday, August 29 – 1st chapter reveal at Read 2 Review
Friday, August 30 – Interviewed at Broowaha
Wednesday, September 4 – 1st Chapter Reveal at As the Pages Turn
Friday, September 6 – Book featured at Tales of a Book Addict
Tuesday, September 10 – Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, September 12 – Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Friday, September 13 – Guest blogging at Between the Covers
Tuesday, September 17 – Book reviewed at Bless Their Heart Mom
Wednesday, September 18 – Book reviewed at Raven Reviews
Thursday, September 19 – Book reviewed at The Self Taught Cook
Friday, September 20 – Book reviewed and 1st chapter reveal at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Monday, September 23 – Book reviewed and 1st chapter reveal at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, September 24 – 1st chapter reveal at Books R Us
Wednesday, September 25 – Book reviewed and 1st chapter reveal at Literary Winner
Thursday, September 26 – Book reviewed at Create with Joy
Friday, September 27 – Book reviewed at Mary’s Cup of Tea
Friday, September 27 – Book featured at Emeraldfire’s Bookmark