Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #109: Don’t Go in the Basement

Jessica needs money for new clothes and Elizabeth needs money for a new Amanda Howard video game, but their parents won’t give them a raise in their allowance until they turn 13. Elizabeth comes up with the idea of house sitting after Jessica turns down all of her other ideas. They make 100 flyers and put them around town, but no one calls them back until Mr. Clark, the school principal calls Elizabeth into his office.

Mr. Clark makes it clear that he would rather have a wild monkey watch over his house than Jessica. Elizabeth vouchers for her and he reluctantly hands over his house key and tells her how to get there. She notices that he seems to run off awfully fast without giving her a lot of details though he does tell her to stay out of the basement.

The first time they stop by his house, one of his neighbors comes over with a package for Mrs. Clark. Elizabeth notices that it was sent overnight mail three weeks ago. Apparently it got delivered to the neighbor’s house but she was on vacation and just got back into town. Jessica accidentally knocks over his fish tank and the fish go everywhere. They manage to save the fish by tossing them in the toilet and then into a crystal punchbowl.

Jessica keeps rummaging through his house to find stuff she can tell the Unicorns about. She finds an old jacket in the closet and a knife falls out. Elizabeth convinces her that the bloodstains on the knife must come from fish. Jessica then finds blood drops on the kitchen floor and a tuft of hair caught in the door, which her twin can’t explain.

Jessica instantly tells the Unicorns that Mr. Clark killed his wife. Elizabeth isn’t as sure so she talks to her friends about it. Maria sheepishly admits that she was working in the office when she heard the secretary call Mrs. Clark’s employer. She was hoping that they would have contact information for her, but they tell her that Mr. Clark called them three weeks ago and said that she was taking a leave of absence. She knows it wasn’t a family emergency because he and his wife have no family.

To make matters worse, some random guy calls and says that he’ll be there on Friday to “take care” of something in the basement. They all freak out, wondering what he could mean. Jessica decides that she has to get into the basement and find Mrs. Clark’s dead body, so she scours the entire house but only finds a spare house key.

Elizabeth sneaks over to the house in the middle of the night, gets scared, and runs to Maria’s house. After waking her up, they sneak over to the house together. Maria thinks that she sees a light on in the house, but they still go inside. All they find is a room that smells of fresh paint and furniture covered in sheets. A noise scares the crap out of them, but it’s just Jessica and Mandy who snuck in with the spare key.

Someone calls while they are there and leaves a message on the machine. The guy says that he found Clark’s wallet in China and he’s taking it to the embassy. Elizabeth wonders if Clark really did kill his wife before going on the run. Hank, the basement guy shows up with a skeleton key. He goes into the basement and warns the girls not to follow him. Then he comes upstairs with a big box, puts it in his truck, and takes off.

All four girls decide that the box must contain Mrs. Clark so they follow him. He drops the box off at a toxic waste dump and then notices them on the road. When he stops to ask why they followed him, they all take off running. They split into two groups, agreeing that whoever gets to the cops first will get help for the others.

Naturally, they all reach the police station at the same time. They tell them everything they know and the cops agree to check things out. They get there in time to see Mr. Clark walking out the front door. Mrs. Clark follows a few seconds later, carrying a little girl. It turns out that they were on the waiting list to adopt a Chinese toddler, and left in a hurry when they got the call. They didn’t tell anyone because they had something similar happen before and the adoption fell through.

Mrs. Clark says that she was so excited when she got the call that she went running through the house and caught her hair in the door. She was carrying a pair of scissors and accidentally caught herself in the leg, which explains the blood drops. The bloody knife really is a fishing knife, one that Clark uses when he goes fishing. And the room they found is the new nursery. Oh, and at one point Jessica found that all of his clothes were missing from the master bedroom, but that was just because they were changing rooms to be closer to the baby.

Jessica had told the Unicorns her suspicions and they spread the story all across school. When Mr. Clark shows up, the kids all think he should be in prison or on the run. Jessica jumps in the middle and decides they should throw him a baby shower. All of the kids turn up to the shower, bring the new baby presents, and play with her, so Jessica manages to look good in the end.

*Belinda Layton says she’s never been to a baby shower before, which is a LIE. She totally went to one way back in book 25 or so when her mom was pregnant.

*Jessica thinks that if she solves a murder, she will get an invitation to the policeman’s ball and that Lila will be so jealous because her money can’t buy her an invitation. Um, sure it can. My dad used to get calls all the time to buy tickets.

*Jessica wants to buy a $75 designer shirt. Granted this book came out in the late 90s, but that’s still way too much money for a junior high kid to spend.

*Jessica goes through Mrs. Clark’s closet and finds a “slinky” purple dress with a slit up one leg, and she wonders if the woman will let her borrow it. Seriously?

*Bruce doesn’t believe the stories about Mr. Clark until Caroline says that she heard Elizabeth talking about it. Suddenly he does believe it because everyone knows that Elizabeth never lies…unless it comes to whoring around in high school.

*How do both twins sneak out of the house at midnight? Seriously, what do Ned and Alice do at night?

*The Unicorns are such bitches in this book. They spread the story around school, and then get pissed at Jessica when the truth comes out because she practically ruined their reputation.

*Hank was cleaning up lead paint in the basement, which makes sense. BUT, he gets the whole job done from start to finish in like an hour, which is completely unrealistic.

*He’s really creepy too. Instead of just telling them what he’s doing, he makes it out like it’s some huge secret that no one can ever know.

*Never, ever hire these two to watch your house. They tell literally everyone that Mr. and Mrs. Clark are out of town, including the neighbor and people who call the house. I’m surprised they had anything left when they got back.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Mystery #16: Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph

Claudia is in summer school (again) and for some reason she gets to take a photography class. She takes pictures of everyone she knows using an old camera that belonged to her dad. At the same time, the kids in Stoneybrook start missing Dawn. They want to do something to show her how much they miss her, and Claudia decides they should make her a book called A Day in the Life of Stoneybrook with pictures from around town.

The entire BSC brings their charges downtown and takes pictures. Claudia becomes fascinated with the downtown buildings and takes most of her pictures there. Mary Anne takes too many pictures of Tigger and has to borrow film from Claudia. Then, she follows her around and takes a bunch of pictures of Claudia taking pictures.

During a BSC meeting, the girls hear an announcement that someone stole money from the bank. Conveniently, it happened on the same day that they were downtown. Claudia goes to develop her film and Janine walks into the darkroom, almost ruining the film. She sees a woman with a baby carriage and a man in a suit walking around the bank.

They go downtown and watch the people outside the bank again. They see the man from the pictures and follow him to a restaurant. His name is Zibreski and he’s the bank’s vice-president. They don’t learn much about him, but they do see the woman with the carriage. She acts super suspicious and won’t let them see inside the carriage.

Claudia calls the police and tells them about her pictures, but they kind of blow her off. They go to see Sergeant Johnson, and he tells them that her pictures are circumstantial evidence that basically mean nothing. Mary Anne remembers the photos she took and Claudia develops those.

At one point, someone opens the door to her darkroom and she gets freaked out. She runs downstairs and finds both doors locked, but she knows someone was there. Mary Anne’s photos show the same woman with the carriage and Zibreski. They go downtown again, Claudia creates a distraction, and when the woman gets nervous, she peeks into the carriage and sees a baby.

All of the charges get together to work on the book, and Claudia grabs some photos Buddy took and runs off. The pictures show Zibreski walking around the bank. The girls all examine the pictures and realize that it shows the bank clock changing time but that his pocket watch never changes. Claudia enlarges the photos to see his watch even closer.

They take the pictures to Johnson and he agrees to bring Zibreski in for questioning. They demand that he let them go when they talk to him and he agrees. Dumb ass. They show him the pictures and Claudia tells him their theory. He totally caves, admits that he stole the money, and he hid it in a safe deposit box. He hid the key to the box in his fake pocket watch.

The next day, the newspaper runs a big story about the crime and credit’s the BSC with completely solving the crime. Mr. and Mrs. Kishi are super proud of her, but Janine acts a little weird. She finally admits that she was the one who walked into the darkroom the second time and she didn’t admit it because she didn’t want Claudia to get made. Claudia just laughs it off. Then they get a letter from Dawn about how happy she is with her book.

*This book screws with the BSC timeline even worse than most. Dawn is still on her “break” in California and Mrs. Barrett is dating Mr. DeWitt. Dawn is home for a summer after this, plus there’s the summer that Mrs. Barrett gets married, but they are still in the eighth grade.

*Outfit #1: pink star-shaped barrettes, flip-flops with pink stars, pink tank top, white man’s shirt, and white jeans.

*If the Kishis are so obsessed with Claudia’s grades, why do they let her take a class on photography? She had to go to summer school because of her bad math grade, but instead of forcing her to focus on that, they let her spend all of her time on photography.

*Sergeant Johnson should really lose his job. He actually lets them in the interrogation room with a suspect before the guy even sees his lawyer.

*Outfit #2: green leotard, ruffled white shirt, jean skirt, and black boots.

*Claudia still wears her Sea City shirt LOL.

*This book made me remember when I took a photography class in junior high. I was completely obsessed with it for about a month and wanted my own darkroom. Now I barely use my digital camera!

*Why do they always get their names printed in the paper? Shouldn’t there be some type of legal thing where their parents have to give them permission?

*They get all the kids together and when they fight over putting the book together, all of the sitters are somehow shocked because they never saw it coming.

*I love how the kids miss Dawn so much when she goes to California for six months. They do the video and now this book for her. When she moves back for good, they kind of just forget about her.