Title: THE BAKER BEACH DETECTIVE
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery
Word Count: 52,000
My main character is hot, pretending to be cold.
I'm thirteen and a master at reinventing myself. I've bounced around a lot of foster families and this one is my last shot. I'll be whatever kid they want in order to stay. But my new sister, Soledad, thought I was like her when she picked me from the database: a cold, analytical genius. She wants an assistant just like her to help track down her parents' killer. But the deeper we dig into the case, the more I rely on my old instincts because the evidence feels all wrong. Unfortunately, feelings are something Soledad won't accept, even when solving the case depends on it.
Thirteen-year-old Jane Watson has a popstar’s ability to reinvent herself into whatever sort of kid a foster family wants: hick, athlete, drama star. Just name it and Jane will transform into the perfect child. Or so she thinks.
When Jane moves in with Mr. Hudson and his granddaughter, Soledad Homez, she’s lived with nine different families in four years and it’s her last shot at finding a permanent home. Jane loves the house high on the cliffs above Baker Beach, but unfortunately Soledad picked Jane because she mistook her for a genius. Soledad needs a brilliant assistant to help prove that it was no accident when her parents were killed by sharks.
Jane tries to fool Soledad into thinking she’s the Einstein for the job, but Soledad sees through her act and plans to expose her as a fraud. Afraid of losing favor with Mr. Hudson, Jane sets out to become a real detective and proves a talent for turning up fresh clues. Soon she and Soledad are on the path of a killer who is using sharks to attack a champion surfer, and Soledad feels certain that they’ve found a solid connection to her parents’ murderer.
But as they close in on the mystery, the killer sends pictures of Jane running around San Francisco after dark to Mr. Hudson and he decides Jane is a bad influence and plans to send her back to the foster center. With only one night to solve the case, Jane drops the detective act and turns to her instincts as a con artist because all the evidence feels false. Someone has purposely led them down the wrong path and it’s up to Jane to expose their enemy and find the truth, even if it means losing Soledad’s hard-earned respect and maybe even her life.
Water splashes up my legs and soaks the bottom of my dress. I stop and listen, my ears pricked up like a terrier’s since I can’t see a thing. There's a churning far down the tunnel, like the entire ocean is streaming toward me. Soledad mentioned something about an ancient Gold Rush tube connected to Mountain Lake that floods once a year. Could I really be that unlucky?
I turn and run blindly in the other direction, tripping over something hard and falling on my face in the mud. But it’s not just water and dirt. I taste other stuff that I haven’t experienced since cleaning the hamster cage in the second grade. I can’t even think about it and why should I? Here I am about to die and I’m freaking out about how there’s probably—no—there’s totally rat poop in the mud.
I push up onto my hands and knees, my slimy hair clinging to my cheeks like seaweed. As I crawl over the tunnel floor, my skirt scrapes up a mound of sludge that smells like rotten eggs and manure. It gets so thick, I have to dig it out with my manicured nails before I try to stand back up or I'll topple over again. After several tries, I manage to scrabble onto my feet, one hand pressed against the tunnel wall for balance as I stagger into blackness, the roar of the water now deafening behind me.