A suspense story starring a 13-year-old latchkey kid. When Marcus Mullin can't find his housekey in its usual place, it is only the first of many suspicious events. His mom, working overtime during the Christmas rush, doesn't notice the missing alarm dock, the mysterious clumps of grass in the downstairs bathroom, or the shrinking leftover meatloaf. Marcus suspects Nick, their tenant, but soon admits that he's really uncomfortable with Nick's growing interest in his mom. Finally, on Christmas Eve, Marcus confronts the mysterious intruder and discovers Nick's son--who disappeared six years before with his mother in a divorce/custody dispute. Although not labeled as high interest/low vocabulary, Marcus' story successfully incorporates all the necessary elements. Better readers may find the pace a bit slow, but all will empathize with Marcus' dread of confronting an empty house alone.