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About the Author

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was a book-loving, game-playing, puzzle-solving daydreamer of a kid who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she was eighteen, she interned for a magazine in Manhattan and fell in love with the publishing industry. She went on to intern for another magazine as well as a literary agent, edited a literary magazine, worked as a production editor for a major publisher in San Francisco, and worked as a freelance proofreader and copyeditor. She holds an MFA in creative writing and now lives in Colorado with her family. To learn more about her, visit her website or the following:

The Alcatraz Escape

Legendary literary game-maker Garrison Griswold is back in action—this time with “Unlock the Rock.” For his latest game, Griswold has partnered with the famous–and famously reclusive–mystery writer Errol Roy to plan an epic escape room challenge on Alcatraz Island.

Emily and James are eager to participate, but the wave of fame they are riding from their recent book-hunting adventures makes them a target. Threatening notes, missing items, and an accident that might not have been an accident have the duo worried that someone is trying to get them out of the game at any cost.

When Emily’s brother is caught red-handed and blamed for all the wrong doings, Emily is certain Matthew is being framed. With Matthew’s record on the line, Emily and James can’t afford to leave this mystery uncracked.

Published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and Company
ISBN: 978-1-62779-963-8
Publication Date: May 1, 2018

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Chapter 1

If one of Errol Roy’s fans had passed him on the street, they  wouldn’t have known who he was. With the wispy white hair that covered most of his head and nearly reached his shoulders, and his long cottony beard tinged with yellow, he was more likely to be mistaken for  Santa Claus than for himself.

Nobody  knew what Errol  Roy looked like,  but his books were  recognized around the world.

On this day in mid-March, the author stood at the bay window of his San Francisco apartment.

“It’s been a long road, Dash,” Errol said aloud to his cat, who was stretched across the windowsill. Dash swatted his tail in response.

Errol was thinking about his personal favorite of his own books. He doubted any of his readers could correctly guess which it was out of the twenty-some mysteries he’d written. It was arguably the most obscure: A Body in the Alley. A horrible title. Maybe that was why it hadn’t sold well.

In A Body in the Alley, Mickey Jones is a crook who continuously finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time but finally pulls off the bank heist of his dreams. At the book’s close, he sails into the sunset while the detective on his trail watches him get away. The book ends with this line:

The boat disappeared over the horizon, rings spreading behind like a peacock fanning its tail.

Errol Roy had written millions of sentences in his lifetime, but that was one he had never forgotten. It wasn’t so much the writing he was fond of, but the image it painted and the feeling of freedom it gave him. It was an ending Errol had always wanted to try, but it turned out critics and readers didn’t like it when their detective hero lost.

Dash sat up and stretched out a paw to tap his owner’s hand, as though encouraging Errol to look up. The view below was of a hillside gouged from its quarry days, now covered in vines and shrubs. The scene straight ahead could be a San Francisco postcard.

On a crisp, clear day you could see all the way from the Golden Gate Bridge to the tiny stump of Gull Island, which had been on the news because two kids and their teacher had found buried treasure there. And if the bay was a stage, then front and center was Alcatraz.

Errol Roy rested his eyes on the famous former prison, which had had a reputation for being inescapable. Now Alcatraz was a popular tourist destination, attracting travelers from around the world, and soon it would be the setting of the latest cockamamie game creation by Garrison Griswold, the city’s beloved book publisher and game enthusiast.

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