Friday, July 1, 2016

The Nancy Drew Files #77: Swiss Secrets (1992)

Quick note, this is book #1 in the “Passport to Romance” series. Too bad I don't have any of the others!

Since it's probably been a whole book since the gals left the country, they head off to Switzerland. Almost as soon as they land, they meet the handsome Franz Haussman who Bess develops a crush on and who offers to take them to their hotel. They also meet some random Australian named Mick. He seems annoyed that they already met another guy and offers to show them around town.

Mick takes them to a watch museum and a few other sites in town. Nancy notices Franz's picture on the cover of the newspaper. It turns out that he's the son of the country's most famous watch company owner and incredibly rich. The picture shows this guy Yves punching him in the face. Mick acts all jealous of the guy and takes them on an even longer tour. When Nancy points out that he seems to know a whole lot about the city given that he's supposedly only been there for a few days, he keeps changing the subject before finally saying that he read up on the area because he always wanted to see it.

Franz invited them to meet him at some club, and they bring along Mick for the ride. It turns out that Franz has a girlfriend named Monique. Bess is naturally disappointed, but before she can say much, some random guy rushes up, threatens Franz, and then disappears into the crowd. Franz just laughs it off and gives them a tour. While dancing with Mick, Nancy hears a commotion. Some guy raced up, punched Franz in the face, and then ran away.

Monique completely breaks down while Mick takes Franz to the bathroom to clean him up. I should point out here that Franz thinks he recognizes Mick from somewhere and Mick, once again, keeps changing the subject. Monique is apparently the daughter of a wealthy chocolate manufacturer. Her parents and Franz's parents keep pushing them to get married but neither feels ready for a serious commitment.

Erich, Franz's cousin, then rushes into the club. He gets pissed off that his brother went out on his own and claims that he isn't doing as much work for the company as he should. It's pretty much as awkward as you might think given that this happens in the middle of a massive dance club. The girls and Mick go back to their hotel with Nancy feeling suspicious about everything that happened that night.

Franz sends a note to the hotel that asks them to meet him at his family's summer home for the day and bring Mick. He even sends them a limousine, and as it turns out, his little summer home is a huge ass mansion. Nancy meets his uncle, Erich's father, who seems less than pleased at having a bunch of American rag a muffins around. They then go swimming, a boat comes out of nowhere, and it almost crashes into Nancy and Franz.

Though Franz tries to pretend it wasn't anything serious, Nancy has her doubts. They hang out a little more before making plans to meet up at a concert later that night. Nancy's little group decides to check out a nearby castle before the show, but Mick gets weird, makes up an excuse not to go to the concert, and takes off. Things get even weirder during the concert.

Nancy notices Franz reading a piece of paper that says to give up the truck route or else. He makes up an excuse to leave, and she goes with him after noticing the way Erich starts eyeing up Monique. Franz finally confesses to her that he has a gambling problem. This random guy named Bart offered him a loan to pay off his debts but then kept coming back for money. Bart now wants him to give him the date and time of a massive gold delivery to the watch factory. He put the note in Franz's pocket as a way to remind him that he can get to him anywhere. Since it's been like three days since Nancy solved a mystery, she agrees to help.

Cut to the next day. They make plans to meet Monique and Franz once again. Bess suddenly decides that she must buy a cuckoo clock to take home. Nancy is annoyed because Franz is late and because George keeps telling Bess she doesn't need a clock and can't afford one. Nancy then notices a suspicious looking man standing nearby who she realizes is the illusive Yves.

After following him around, they see him paying way too much attention to the Haussman workshop and store. Nancy approaches him under the guise of having seen him in the paper. Yves acts super rude, goes on and on about how the watches his family makes are so much better, and then pretty much takes off. When Franz never shows up, they hook up with Mick and take in some more sites.

They get back to the hotel to find Erich waiting for them. Franz skipped all of his meetings and was probably kidnapped. The whole group goes to his apartment and finds that he was planning on taking a trip to some place called Zermatt. The girls worry that they don't have enough money in their budget to visit, but Eric promises to make arrangements that are more affordable and claims they can take a train into the city.

The only unusual thing that happens on the train is that all five wind up stuck in one tiny car/room together. Nancy goes to get some fresh air and almost winds up going over the side of the mountain when someone pushes her from behind. Though she suspects that Mick might have something to do with the case, it doesn't stop her from making out with him, nor does the fact that poor Ned is waiting for her back home.

When they get to Zermatt, they decide to check out the Matterhorn instead of, you know, working on the case they went there to solve. Monique randomly shows up and announces that she took Franz on the trip to clear his mind and get him away from all his problems. They had a huge fight though that led to him taking off. She also admits that the fight was over Bart.

See, Bart is a private investigator when he's not blackmailing rich people. Her parents hired him to see if Franz was hiding any big secrets. They spotted him on their train and had a big fight over him. Franz believes that her parents are behind the blackmailing and want to keep him away from her. Franz then shows up in person to apologize and take the blame for the fight. Before he can do too much though. They see a massive rock rolling down the hill straight towards them.

Rich people apparently don't take stuff like this as seriously as us normal peeps do because after Nancy saves him and Monique, Franz decides they should all go skiing. Since his uncle planned some huge party that night, he gets them on plane tickets to get back in time. The party goes fine except for two things. When Mick meets Monique's parents and they think he looks familiar, he snaps at them and runs away to help Franz get some stuff from the loading dock. They then hear a scream as Franz falls into the lake. While George and Erich jump into the water to save him, Mick is nowhere to be seen.

Nancy thinks this is the perfect time to sneak into Monique's house and go through the office that Bart apparently keeps there. Not only do they not find anything, but they almost get caught when Bart shows up with Mick. While hiding, they find out that Mick is the son of a diplomat, that he knows about the gold delivery, and that he wants Bart to cut him in on the action or he'll go to the authorities. When the girls finally get out of the house, a dark shadow comes out of nowhere and grabs Bess.

It turns out that the shadowy figure is just Mick. He tells them that he lied to Bart because he wanted to trap him or at least find out more info. George just glares at him, while Bess looks at him like a puppy dog because he's way too cute to be a liar. How did she not get knocked up at fourteen? It also turns out that Mick's father was the Australian ambassador to Switzerland for a number of years, which is why he looks familiar to everyone. Nancy still doesn't know whether to believe him so she decides to take a trip to see Yves.

Posing as a journalist, she asks him a ton of questions but gets nothing out of him until he reveals that he and Franz are actually partners. She then goes to see Franz who admits that it's true. He and Yves went into business together to increase their profits. They go through his uncle's office and find a lot of incriminating evidence. His uncle actually hired Bart to set him up so that he could take over ownership of the company. They also find notes between the two that prove the uncle gave Bart all the info needed to rob the gold truck.

Nancy convinces Franz that she knows how to clear his name. He agrees to work with Bart to hijack the truck. The two men steal the gold, the cops show up, and his uncle jumps out of the police car to claim his nephew double crossed their family company. Nancy and the girls then climb out of the back of the truck and tell the cops to arrest the uncle. The truck was empty of gold because Franz changed the route.

Nancy then tells the police that since they got a tip off about the theft that could only come from someone who knew the old route, it must have been the uncle or Erich. The uncle refuses to speak, but Erich breaks down and confesses everything. It turns out he did it because he's in love with Monique. Well, duh. Mick and the new Australian ambassador then show up with Bart in handcuffs in the backseat of their own car. They worked with the gals and went after Bart when he ran.

After some chit chat, Franz makes a big announcement. Even though neither of them was ready to settle down like five minutes ago, they're now engaged. Nancy and the gals are heading off to Rome for the next stage of their trip. Monique wants to go along but Franz points out that they need to plan their wedding like right now, so she tells them to call her friend Claudia. Mick tells Nancy that he's in like/lust with her, but she tells him that she has too many “commitments” back home to start a new relationship. Wow, nice way to talk about your long time boyfriend! Mick agrees, gives her a goodbye kiss to remember him by, and she wonders what adventures are ahead in Italy. Probably a dead body...

*Nancy acts all irritated at the beginning of the book because Ned stayed home to work a summer job instead of going to Switzerland with her. Yes, because she never ever blows Ned off for work that she doesn't even get paid to do.

*BTW, Ned's summer job is working for an insurance company. I brought it up before that I didn't remember him ever doing insurance work, so I guess I was wrong!

*When they get to their hotel and have to speak French, Bess does it. Nancy flips out because Bess says, “we want to check in,” and gets all panicky about it. But then the receptionist understands what she's trying to say and gives them the keys to their room. I have no clue what's going on in that scene. Wouldn't you tell the front desk worker that you want to check in when you first get there??

*Nancy momentarily feels guilty for dancing with Mick because she isn't sure she should have such a good time with someone who isn't her boyfriend. Um, no, you definitely shouldn't.

*I totally want to go to this club! There is one big dance floor and then smaller rooms on the second floor with different themes. One has a 60s theme with psychedelic paint on the walls, 60s rock and roll playing, and bean bag chairs everywhere. Plus! It has a full restaurant.

*Nancy silently thanks her father for never pushing her to marry Ned. Well, he probably knows that she cheats on her boyfriend every time she steps out of town!

*Mick is one smooth talker. When he goes to kiss Nancy, she stops him and tells him that she has a boyfriend back home. He poo poos her and says that they aren't home before laying one on her. She thinks he's romantic or something, but I think he's a jerk who probably goes around Europe macking on every women he meets.

*Oh man, you have to love Nancy. She starts getting worried about Mick and says that it's not because she's worried about how they feel because they can work out their feelings later. It's because he's a valid suspect. I love that she thinks he's involved and yet is still willing to date him!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sweet Valley High #12: When Love Dies

Tricia Martin has been acting a little strange lately, pulling away and acting distant around Steven. When he comes home one weekend, she won't come to the phone and seems like she's never home. Jessica points out that she might be taking him for granted because he's always around. She even drops hints that maybe Tricia is seeing someone else.

Deciding to prove once and for all that their love is eternal and that Tricia would never ever cheat on him, he goes to her house. Her dad says that she's not home then that she is home but doesn't want to see him. Steve breaks through the door, rushes into her room, and finds her packing a bag. After a fight in which she tells him that she's unexpectedly going out of town, she tells him that maybe they're too serious about her. When Steve pushes her and claims that he doesn't want to see anyone else but maybe she does, she won't look him in the eye. He decides that she's seeing someone else and probably running off with him for the weekend. They break up, with him wishing luck on the next guy.

Cara is super excited to hear the news because she's always had a crush on Steve. She also reveals that the Morrow family just bought a home near Fowler Crest and that Jeremy Frank, the big television star, is in the hospital with a broken leg. Since she wants to get close to any celebrity, she convinces Liz that they should volunteer as candy stripers. Liz somehow believes that her twin wants to do this all out of the kindness of her heart.

Jessica, unfortunately, gets assigned to the maternity wing. After a few hours of being around screaming babies and frustrated mothers, she finds out that Elizabeth actually met Jeremy. She took him a glass of water, they talked about how she's a writer, and he asked her to sign his cast. Jessica tricks Liz into telling her his room number so she can see him too.

That goes just about as well as you might expect. The first time she sees him, she asks to sign his cast. She loses her balance, falls over, stabs him in his good leg with a pen, and whacks him in the bad leg. She then goes to see him again, walks in on him getting a sponge bath naked, and drops ice cold water all over him. He and Liz finally come up with a plan to get back at her. Since she only wants what she can't have, they'll make her think that he really really wants her.

Jeremy starts by giving her a bunch of flowers the station sent him and then talks all seductively to her. When she stops by to see him one day, he tells her that it was love at first sight and proposes marriage. Jessica runs practically screaming from the room before giving it some thought and deciding that an engagement might be a good idea. As the psychopath tells her sister, it doesn't matter that they've never dated or had any real conversations. He's a celebrity, which is all that matters.

Though Jessica does go to see him and accepts, he just laughs at her. While leaving Liz out of the story, he tells her that he set her up. If she was 26, it might be a different story, but she's 16 and too young to get married. Jessica finally agrees but sees her opening when he tells her he'll do anything to make it up to her. That leads to her securing a spot on his show.

Back to poor Steven. Jessica convinces him to go to a party at Cara's house, even though she isn't actually having a party. Liz refuses to go, so it winds up being just Cara, Steve, Jessica, Aaron, Lila, and some college guy named Jim. Steve pumps Cara for information on Tricia because she told Jessica that someone saw Tricia hanging all over some random guy. He then gets really anxious and then angry, makes her dance with him, and stars kissing her.

When he comes home at TWO IN THE MORNING after her party, he starts moping and whining over Tricia and how much he loves her. After a cup of hot cocoa with Ned, his dad tells him to not let his sister push him into doing something he's not ready for. That doesn't stop him from going out with Cara a few more times.

Liz, who can't keep her nose out of anything, tries to talk to Tricia and gets nothing out of her. Todd says that he saw her looking really sad in study hall and staring at a picture of Steve. Liz tries to talk to her later, but Cara and Jessica show up. Cara makes it clear that she's with Steve now, Tricia gets all embarrassed and rushes off. Liz later runs into her at the hospital, but Tricia tells her that she was just there to visit a friend.

This all leads to Liz hearing about a girl her age in the hospital. When she goes to the room, she finds Tricia. Tricia tells her that she has leukemia, that it's terminal, and that she only has about six months left to live. She also begs her not to tell Steven. Tricia saw what happened to her family when her mother died of the same disease and won't let him go through that. Liz agrees to keep her secret but then cries to Mr. Collins because she just doesn't know what to do.

Steven comes down and picks up Cara to take her to a party at college. Huh, I guess he does know a few people at SVU. Cara starts gossiping and then makes it clear that since they're together, he needs to get over Tricia NOW. Steven flips out because they're clearly not a couple and he would never go out with her. After a short standoff, he takes her home.

Seeing him so upset, Liz tells him everything. Steven rushes to see Tricia, tells her he knows, and she does a gasping/fainting thing where she collapses in his arms. She goes on and on about how she didn't want to see him suffer, he tells her that he would suffer anytime he didn't have her in his life, and they practically cry. He also claims, laughingly so, that he will always love her and always carry a piece of her with him.

Liz keeps seeing some random orderly around the hospital. He seems to exist only to skulk around in the shadows and keep an eye on her. Though he eventually introduces himself as Carl, she still tries to keep her distance. Mr. Collins asks her to help Max with an upcoming English assignment. While leaving the hospital to meet with Max, Carol stops to tell her that the head nurse needs her. When she gets out of the car, he gives her chloroform and drags her off into the night.

*Steven says that he usually comes home on weekends and that Tricia knows that. Well, duh, everyone knows that he's always coming home from college to hang out with high school kids. I don't know how he even has time to make friends at school.

*Do teenage girls often run away for romantic trips with guys? That seems a little mature to me. I guess I'm old-fashioned though because I heard about a group of teens renting a cabin together for an adults free weekend and it creeped me out.

*Jessica wears a pair of skintight jeans with a slinky low cut camisole early in the book. Seriously, does Alice even look up when her daughter walks out the front door?

*Steven thinks it's not sexy that Cara wears a dress cut so low in the back that he can see her bikini tan lines. So what, the dress is two inches low?

*He also thinks she wears too much perfume and makeup and thinks about how Tricia doesn't need any of that crap. He even says that her hair and skin just naturally smells sweet. Yes, I'm sure that's completely true, and I bet she rolls out of bed looking perfect without any makeup.

*After seeing the way he treats Cara like such crap in this book, why the hell did she agree to go out with him later and stay with him for so long?

*It's nice to see Jessica once again going out on a date with Aaron Dallas after seeing them together for so long in SVT, though that makes it funny when she claims in SVC that she never really liked him.

*Gee Steve, why would Cara ever think you were a couple? Hmm, could it be because you kept taking her out on dates, took her to parties, talked to her on the phone, and made out with her multiple times?

*This book irritates me because I can see both points of view. On the one hand, if I was dying and in love with someone, I would probably want to spend more time with him. On the other hand, if I was a teenager, I wouldn't want him to carry around all those memories of watching me wasting away.

*Of course none of this really matters though because Steve gets over her so fast. Isn't it like 5-6 books before he and Cara get together and become a big deal couple? Then he “falls in love” with Aaron in the SVC series and just royally screws everything up yet again.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Babysitters Club Mysteries #25: Kristy and the Middle School Vandal

So, Kristy is hanging out at home and enjoying the sunshine watching Nannie and Watson work in the garden when Shannon and Abby stop by. Abby is still complaining about that time she bought a copy of the test and did not get expelled from school and how the guy who sold it to her is a jerk. There's also a brief mention of someone named Troy Parker. He was recently suspended but no one knows why.

Kristy goes back to school and thinks about how much she hates Cary Retlin. He possibly – she has no proof – stole her math homework, changed all the answers, and put it back in her bag. He also manages to get her watch right off her wrist. After the two fight, he offers her a deal. If the BSC can solve a mystery of his choosing, he'll give her back the watch and leave her alone too. Since Kristy thinks she can do anything, she agrees without even talking to the club members first.

Cary leads them on a treasure hunt that starts with the clue: Get Your Mother (understands). After trying way too many things, they realize it refers to the gym stands. There, they find another clue and see Troy wearing mismatched clothing. It must be a truly terrible outfit because even Claudia makes fun of it, and you know the kind of crap she wears.

You may remember the Mischief Knights, who are now back in action. Someone leaves rude comments on a teachers car with the MK initials signed in green, which is weird because Cary always used red. It's also weird because the comments are directed at the principal but it's not his car. The next clue leads them to the boiler room, where they find a clue directing them to the old equipment shed. Remember when Kristy was kind of involved in burning it down? She assumes Cary chose it as a dig to her, even though he didn't live in Stoneybrook at the time.

There's also a big controversy going on with the teachers, the school board, and some locals. The teachers want a raise, the school board won't give them one, and they finally announce that they may go on strike. Kids and their parents aren't happy because it would mean summer in July. Mr. Oates, the board chairman, keeps pointing out all the stuff happening at SMS and how it proves the teachers don't deserve a raise because they can't control their students.

Other MK stuff happens. Someone pulls the fire alarm and leaves a green MK next to it. Kristy finds the bathroom overflowing one day with the MK next to it again. She begins suspecting the poor old janitor, who I assume is only a suspect because they want a bunch of red herrings. The next clue leads them to a specific classroom, where they see the poor old janitor again.

Their next clue leads them to the computer Claudia used for her old personals column. Cary set up a spelling test for her that spits out the next clue when she finally passes it. This clue takes them to the auditorium. They see Mr. Oates with a journalist talking about how the school is out of control and the teachers are doing nothing.

Kristy believes that the person responsible for all the MK stuff is Cary. When they get caught in the auditorium at the same time someone pulls another prank, she tells the principal all her evidence. Her “evidence” is lame at best. Cary was supposedly on a bathroom break during one prank and had access to green chalk. He doesn't really believe that they would ruin the sets from the last school play, so he takes her evidence. Kristy notices yet another MK on her way out the door.

Cary is so angry that he confronts Kristy and lets her know that he has an alibi for every prank, including tutoring another student at one point. He gives them one last clue, which leads them to the final clue, which asks for the head of the false MK. Mary Anne finally realizes that the person doing all this stuff is color blind, which explains why he/she chose the wrong car and used the wrong color chalk. The only color blind person they know is Troy Parker.

Since they can't just blame him like they do everyone else, they ask for Cary's help breaking into his locker. They find all the evidence needed to prove he was the MK culprit. Troy finds them going through his stuff and confesses just as the principal shows up. The school board agrees to meet again to come up with a solution to the raise situation, and Kristy lets Cary keep her watch.

In other news, Kristy comes up with a “brilliant” idea to let their charges do a scavenger hunt too. They'll assign sitters to groups of chargers, pick a theme for the day, let the kids find items on the list, and award points for the most creative choices. This leads to random stuff like kids carrying around tree branches for a clue on something that holds paper and finding sweat socks for something that stinks on and off the court. There's no real resolution either. The BSC decides to choose a few winners, but we don't really see what they get.

*Kristy makes a point of saying that Cary wasn't at SMS during the whole softball equipment shed fiasco, but he also wasn't in school when Claudia did the personal ads. Given that it's pretty much never mentioned after, how would he know about it?

*Why would the chairman make a big deal out of how the teachers can't control the students? Did he want to fire them all and start all over again?

*You would think they would at least get a warning for breaking into someone's locker, but I guess you never mess with the BSC.

*Abby seriously needs to get over the whole cheating thing. She's the one who bought the test, and I'm sorry, but there is no way you would confuse a study guide with a copy of the real test.

*Troy is literally only mentioned like twice in the book before they out him as the MK vandal. It's pretty ridiculous.

*This is probably my least favorite mystery so far. It felt like very little happened, there were too many suspects that made no sense, and the end was a cop out. They seriously suspected the janitor of being a vandal?

*As for the teachers' raises, can't Watson just throw some money at the situation and make it go away? LOL