September 9, 2010
Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz
by Kristin Wolden Nitz
Seventeen-year-old Jen has plans for the summer when Dad tells her that she is needed at the Schoenhaus, the bed-and-breakfast inn owned and operated by her grandmother. One of her regular staff has been injured and a themed weekend is coming up. Guests will gather together and spend the weekend acting out and solving a mystery.
Jen resists until Dad tells her a bit about the mystery. It is loosely based on the disappearance of Jen’s mother some 13 years earlier. Her grandmother may need help but Dad is more than a little worried about why the woman is suddenly determined to prove that a murder took place years earlier.
Reluctantly, Jen agrees to help and soon finds herself not just cleaning room but playing the part of the victim, a character based on her own mother. To complicate matters, the victim’s boyfriend is being played by Jen’s handsome un-cousin, a boy related to her grandmother’s second husband.
Again, I can’t give too much more information without giving away some serious plot elements which I am entirely unwilling to do. This is, after all, a mystery. As a mystery, it passes two big tests for me:
- It hooked me and wouldn’t let go. I picked up this book while I was packing for a lakeside weekend. I planned to read it because the author is a personal friend. I did not plan on staying up until the wee hours of the morning to find out who the murderer was.
- I didn’t figure out who the murderer was and that is a huge compliment because, very often, when I read a mystery I do figure it out.
Nitz plants clues in sight of the reader but she also has created a complicated enough story complete with red herrings that the clues don’t stand out.
The main character is an athlete and sports are frequently discussed but the book will probably have a much greater appeal to girls than boys. It would also be suitable for advanced younger readers — no sex (just romance) and no drugs although the main character does have a glass of wine with dinner but even that plays into the mystery.
Give this book to the tween or teen reader in your life, but you might want to wait until they get their chores done.