“Really, Jen, is it too much to ask?”

I pressed my lips together. I hated that question. Dad only used it when my answering “yes” would make me look selfish, inconsiderate, and completely unreasonable.

He speared a piece of Szechuan chicken with his fork and popped it into his mouth, undoubtedly hoping that, while he chewed, I’d agree to six weeks of hard labor at my grandmother’s bed-and-breakfast.

Was it too much to ask? No. At least it shouldn’t have been. But a familiar, anxious feeling was forming under my ribs at the thought of staying out at the Schoenhaus for more than a few days. I studied the white Chinese take-out cartons sitting on our kitchen table for a few seconds, wondering why he was trying so hard to guilt me into this. Then I found the hole in his logic.

“Grandma Kay didn’t ask me to help her,” I pointed out. “She was just giving me first shot at the job if I wanted it. That’s a big difference. I’d rather stay here in St. Louis this summer. I put in three applications today, and two of the places are hiring.”

“But Jen, the summer tourist season has already started,” Dad pointed out. “Training someone takes time. Your grandmother thinks making beds is an art form.”

“True,” I said. Then I frowned. “But wasn’t she already training someone else?”

“Well, yes. But Bri only plans to put in about ten hours a week.”

“Bri?” I asked. “Working? You’re kidding.”

Dad shrugged. “Her mom thought it would be good for her.”

“Right,” I said. My father had just given me another good reason to stay away from the Schoenhaus. Ten hours a week with Bri Harris was cruel and unusual punishment.

Excerpt © 2010 Kristin Wolden Nitz


About the book:

Jen is scheduled to spend the summer helping Grandma Kay run a Victorian bed and breakfast. But Grandma Kay’s plans include a lot more than housekeeping. She intends to solve a real mystery from the past: the disappearance of Jen’s mother. During the build-up to an elaborate, role-playing Murder Mystery Weekend, Jen’s worst suspicions are aroused. Could a member of her own family be responsible?

What people are saying:

Nitz intertwines and then untangles relationships among the teens and guests, weaving a credible mystery for a wide adolescent audience. With clues and red herrings neatly scattered throughout, the book scores as a darned good little mystery. Intriguing, suspenseful fun. (Mystery. 12 & up) -Kirkus

Release Date: October 1, 2010

About the author:

Kristin Wolden Nitz learned the subtle art of planting clues from reading–and often rereading–hundreds of mysteries. The historical building, sloping vineyards, and winding roads around Augusta, Missouri gave her both the initial idea and the eerie atmosphere for SUSPECT. Kristin, who is also the author of DEFENDING IRENE and SAVING THE GRIFFIN, lives in Southwest Michigan.