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.
Here’s what I loved:
This book was a fabulous look at life in the early 1900’s. The building of the railroads, immigrants coming to Ellis Island, the plight of the immigrants in tenement housing, and the devious slumlords who were some of the richest of the rich at the times. I wish more books were written about this time period. The contradiction between the beautiful lavish lifestyle of the upper class at the time with the poor downtrodden existence of the immigrants was eye opening. We really got a good feel for the charcters and I truly became invested in them. I spent most of the book wishing we got to read more of the 1905 portion of the story. But the present day section grew on me, although mostly the research parts as the heroine learned what happened to those long ago characters.
Here’s what I didn’t love:The only thing disappointing, other than a serious lack of editing, was the climax of the book. All that build up and all we got for an answer was: he inherited the terrible family secret and his friend stole a girl from him. We never got a feel for the villain. He was just sort of there and then announced. Also there was never anything said about where Ethan was kept, if there was any significance. And not about where he and Annie were found. Again, the mention of the surroundings in both instances were detailed enough to suggest a significance that the reader was never let in on.
Another thing was, it kind of depressed me. Despite all the mystery going on, so many of the significant characters ended up dead or murdered. Like too many. I mean there was absolutely no happy ending for anyone in the 1905 set of characters. We spent so much of the book invested in them that it was quite a letdown for me. I felt slightly less invested in the current day characters and they had a HEA.
Over all, I enjoyed the book and the way it flipped back and forth between 1905 and present day kept me on the edge. All the mysteries were engrossing and I eagerly read on to find out how it ended. Luckily the villains, both past and present got what they deserved. But it definitely came at great cost to the main characters.