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The Luthier's Apprentice
by Mayra Calvani
Violinist Detective Series #1
Publication Date: May 15, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult

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Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him.

And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…

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About the Author

Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. She's represented by Serendipity Literary.

She lives in Belgium with her husband of 25+ years, 2 wonderful kids, and her two beloved pets. When she's not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Emma and Annika jumped to their feet. They had concentrated so hard on the attic door, they hadn’t heard Grandpa coming upstairs.
“We…we heard a noise, Grandpa,” Emma said.
“I’ve told you not to get close to that room. Why do you have so much trouble with such a simple request?”
“I’m sorry—it’s just—”
Grandpa glanced at his watch. “It’s almost three. I want you to continue work on that scroll. Come on, sbrigati.” His eyes moved to Annika. “I’m sure Annika will understand.”
“Sure, Mr. Donatelli.”
Emma sighed. “Okay,” she mumbled. “Let me at least walk her to the door.”
Down at the front door, they said goodbye. “I’ll call you later,” said Emma.
After Annika left, Emma trudged to the workshop and worked for the next couple of hours. She had already planed the fingerboard face of the scroll block, marked out the shape with a pencil and started sawing it out yesterday evening.
Under Grandpa’s stern supervision, she finished sawing out as accurately as possible, then bevelled both sides to the pencil line and tidied the outline with chisel, gouge and files. It took a long time. The job demanded precision, stamina and concentration. Usually, she would get so much into it that the hours would fly like seconds. But today was different. Her mind kept straying to the attic, to the mark on Monsieur Dupriez’s floor... and to Corey. On one occasion she hurt her finger with the gouge, on another she dropped the file.
“Where’s your head today?” Grandpa snapped from across the worktable.
“Sorry.” She sighed.
After another half hour Emma had the final outline for the scroll. She smoothed out the curves with her fingers. She smiled. It looked pretty neat.
She looked at Grandpa only to realize that he had been watching her for some time. The expression on his face surprised her. The usual harshness in his eyes had totally vanished, and in its place lay only a profound sadness.
But it didn’t last long. Grandpa blinked, as if waking up from a trance, and reached over for her scroll. He inspected it, his eyes narrowed and critical under his bushy eyebrows.
Emma held her breath. Say something nice, please.
His expression was grim again. “You’re too good for your own good,” he muttered.
What was that supposed to mean?
At that moment the shop door bell chimed. 
 “Get started on the pegbox,” Grandpa said. He gave her back the scroll and wiped his hands on his working apron. He headed to the shop through the connecting door and closed it behind him.
Emma rose from the bench to stretch her back and legs. Her neck was sore. She opened and closed her hands, stretching her fingers. Even though she was used to it, she still got sore muscles if she overdid it.
She reached for the pencil compass and began marking out the pegbox on the front and back of the scroll. While she worked, her mind drifted again to this morning. And to Corey. Her heart quickened. She remembered his Holmes impression and in spite of herself, she smiled. She wished she’d brought her Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes here. She would have looked up some clever quotes to throw at him the next time they met.
From the shop came the sharp edge of Grandpa’s voice arguing with a customer.
Emma froze and listened.
 “It is exactly as you requested,” Grandpa said. “To the last specification. No more, no less.”
“I’m not satisfied,” a woman’s voice said. “She promised...” The woman lowered her voice and Emma couldn’t catch the words.
Emma put the scroll and compass on the table and stepped closer to the door.
“I’m paying a small fortune here, Mr. Donatelli,” the woman said. “I will not accept something I didn’t request.”
Grandpa answered back, but he must have kept his voice low because Emma couldn’t get what he said.
“Well, maybe you should go back and get some other wood then.” The woman’s voice was icy. “My next concerto is in one month. Do you understand? One month. And I will not play with this one. I want what I was promised!”
“Will you please keep your voice low? My granddaughter is inside.”
Emma felt the thud of steps approaching the door. Quickly, she ran and jumped on the bench where she had been working.
The door opened and Grandpa peeked in to check on her. His bushy eyebrows were furrowed and his eyes sparked with suspicion.
Emma pretended she was adjusting the compass. She looked up and smiled. “Oh, hi, Grandpa. Is something wrong?”
His lips pressed together, he shook his head. “I think you have worked enough today, Emma. Why don’t you go upstairs to your room? Or better yet, take a bit of fresh air outside?”
, adesso. Come, you can go out from the shop.”
Curious to see who the woman was, Emma followed him into the shop. An elegant lady with high cheekbones and red hair stood by the glass counter. Her haughty expression was heightened by the luxurious, silver-grey fur coat that covered her. On the counter lay a violin. Its varnish, like red wine, glowed with warmth and mellowness. For a second, Emma thought the woman looked familiar.
“Hello,” Emma mumbled as she crossed the shop to the door.
The woman remained silent, offering Emma a secretive smile. “Is she your helper?” she asked him.
He nodded. “She is just leaving.”
“So you have a little apprentice! How sweet,” the woman’s tone mocked Grandpa.
Grandpa didn’t look pleased by her comment. He shot Emma a warning glance. “Be back in fifteen minutes.”
Emma rolled her eyes and groaned inwardly. The bell tinkled as the door closed behind her. She hoped her mom would return soon. Living with Grandpa felt like being in the army.
She glanced at her watch. It was not yet six but already dark. A few people were busy walking their dogs. As she trudged down the street, she glanced over her shoulder at the shop. Through the windows she could see them talking. She wondered why the woman had not been satisfied with the violin. A perfectionist to the end, Grandpa almost never had complaints from customers.
She was thinking of Corey—angry at herself for not getting him out of her mind and toying with the idea of inviting him to tomorrow’s Halloween party—when, suddenly, someone came flashing by and put something in her hand.
 Startled, she saw Corey speeding away on a skateboard.
“Hey, wait!” she called after him, but he seemed to be quite an expert at the skateboard, and in a matter of seconds was a block away and disappeared round the corner.
Emma looked at the note in her hand:
Tervuren Square
Tomorrow, 2:00 pm.

“My 11 Favorite Books,” by Mayra Calvani, author of The Luthier’s Apprentice

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
Brilliant, dark, and insightful! I have read this book several times and each time I learn something new.

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
Tragic tale of a woman way beyond her times. Lazy summer evenings and sunsets by the Gulf combine with feminist issues and forbidden love.

Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
Baroque, dark and rich, the prose flows like blood.

The Stranger, by Albert Camus
Fascinating portrait of a cold, unsympathetic man (probably a sociopath) and society’s prejudices. A super powerful little book.

Diamond Dogs, by Alan Watt
Dark, gripping tale of a love-hate relationship between a father and a son.

Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
The classic in gothic romantic suspense—need I say more?

Lives of the Twins, by Rosamond Smith (Joyce Carol Oates)
Deliciously dark, twisted story about a young woman involved with a pair of twins.

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
Dark tale of love and obsession!

Cold Eye, by Giles Blunt
This book haunted me for years. Dark story of an artist who makes a pact with the devil in exchange for success. The deterioration of his soul as the book progresses is chilling to behold.

Come Closer, by Sara Gran
Another powerful little book and one of the scariest stories I’ve ever read.

Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin
Fast-pace, exciting, unputdownable. Great cliffhangers at the end of each chapter and pretty darn terrifying.

Mayra Calvani’s Playlist
Moonlight Sonata
Figlio Perduto
Snow White soundtrack
The Village soundtrack
Interview with the Vampire soundtrack
Dracula soundtrack
And last but not least—in fact, currently my personal favorite: the Revenge (series) soundtrack

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