I'm sure you're not surprised to learn that the plot is convoluted--after all, it is a BSC mystery! A man named Reginald Fowler is trying to develop Miller's Park into a shopping complex, to which various townspeople (including the BSC) disagree. Meanwhile, the BSC has new clients, the Martinezes, whose house Fowler would have to buy to follow through with his plan.Odd things have gone on at the Martinez house, including a fire in their garage, after which their usual sitter quit. The BSC discovers that someone has been threatening Luke Martinez, and he's always suspicious of his sitters. At the same time, various vandalism is occurring in the area, and Mary Anne keeps being at the wrong place at the wrong time. After being brought to the police station on suspicion of vandalism, MA tells the cops she saw Fowler talking to a teenaged boy. But Fowler was out of state at the time. Eventually, the BSC discovers that Fowler has a twin, who is out to stop his brother's dastardly plan. The twin blackmailed the Martinezes' former babysitter's boyfriend (are you following that?) into committing the vandalism. Turns out, the boyfriend had stopped by to visit the babysitter and had started the fire at the Martinezes with his cigarette.
Luke saves the day by finding a paper on which Fowler mapped out his future plans for Stoneybrook, which include demolishing most of the town and building industrial complexes and apartment buildings. The twin is arrested and Fowler's plans for Stoneybrook are denied.Interesting tidbits:
The cover of this book would look like a poster for an awful horror movie, if it were dark outside. Little Amalia is busy ripping up paper (wearing a Claudia outfit--pink shirt, purple leggings and red high tops), while Luke is either writing creepy messages on the window, or he's paralyzed by reading one someone else wrote on the window. And Mary Anne--who, for once, doesn't look like she's wearing a wig--is wearing an atrocious get-up, one that wasn't even the slightest bit stylish, even in 1996. Plus, she's wearing too much blush.
This one takes place right after Dawn permanently moves back to California and Abby joins.
MA eats Grape Nuts, with skim milk and maple syrup, for breakfast. Sounds yummy.Claudia, just so you know, Pebbles Flintstone ponytails are NEVER cool. On anyone. Ever.
Heh heh heh. Kristy mentions what an amazing coincidence it is that, right after they learn about the plan to develop Miller's Park, they get a new client who live right outside of the park. It's not really that coincidental for a BSC book, though.Sharon calls MA a celebrity, and MA asks if she won an Oscar or something. Actually, she just had a letter to the editor published in the paper.
There's a whole bunch of letters in the text about the Miller's Park issue and most of them are pretty boring, but one of them made me laugh because a local business owner called the situation a brouhaha.Mary Anne gets spooked because she's babysitting the Martinezes and a figure runs away from the yard. Outside, she finds the words DON'T TELL written in the ash of the garage fire. Of course, this isn't scary because it's a BSC book and you know they always win in the end. But if I were thirteen and saw that, I would pee my pants. I would have been on the phone with my mom so fast.
This is the book that introduces Cary Retlin's family. I now wonder, after last week's California Diaries books, whether Cary and Benson Retlin exist as well as Steig.I laughed so hard when MA got hauled in by the police. Now, both she and Stacey have been questioned by the coppers.
How does Mrs. Martinez have Richard's phone number?
The BSC's police friend, Sgt. Johnson, takes over questioning MA when she gets to the station. He convinces Richard to let him talk to Mary Anne alone. I think that's a little bit illegal...or at least, a really, really bad idea.Kristy uses *69 to try to find out who called Luke, but they never mention the actual digits. They just say "she dialed three numbers." I guess they didn't want kids using it to play around.
Jessi's hair is done up in beaded braids in this story. Usually, she's shown just wearing a ponytail.MA think Logan looks especially cute with uncombed hair. I...don't get it.
Abby brings cookies to the Martinezes, and tells Luke to eat one even though he's not hungry. That's a good message to pass on. (Luke takes the cookie but inspects it as if he thinks Abby's trying to poison him.)Later Abby makes the kids play a game called Secrets where you tell the others secrets about yourself no one else knows. First, I can't believe even an eight year old would agree to that game. Second, Amalia's so little, her only secret is that she loves Barney...which is probably not really a secret.
Once again I ask how big Claudia's room is. Jessi's doing ballet stretches on the floor during a meeting. (Although, I'm thinking about my childhood bedroom and realizing there probably was room for a desk, a director's chair and a bed, plus Jessi doing stretches on the floor. But that room was huge, and for some reason I've always pictured Claudia's house (and Kristy and MA's old houses) as being on the smaller side.)MA calls the operator numerous times, trying to track down Fowler's twin brother. She uses various accents and thinks she's hilarious. I'm betting there are only a few operators and she's getting them over and over, and they probably think she's an idiot. (Wouldn't it have been easier just to use a phone book?)
Why would the Martinezes want a bunch of virtual strangers cleaning out their garage for them? I could see if the BSC were going to be scrubbing down walls or something, but they're actually going through and deciding what to keep and what to toss. Stacey's sitting that day, and MA and Kristy come over without pay. I would have been a little suspicious if I were Mr. Martinez...Of course, the BSC finds a clue the fire department missed. Stoneybrook should fire all their cops and fire fighters and just hire the BSC instead. It'd be a lot cheaper!
Stacey actually says, "Well, duh," to Mary Anne at one point. The only way that would have been more wrong was if Claudia had said it.Heh heh heh. Kristy's so upset about bad publicity she isn't eating (or making fun of) her lunch. MA mentions the lunch as it was described on the menu: "Fish sand. on bun w/coleslaw". Later, MA puts tartar sauce on her fish sand, and later they throw away the remains of their fish sands.
Remember phone booths? Mary Anne, Logan and Mallory stake out the one that Kristy reached when she used *69. Because the person who called is just going to hang out there.Mary Anne goes into Ted's Tools and starts asking questions about who had bought a certain shade of paint recently. Not only does Ted remember, he actually gives her a name. Sounds like a really bad idea. What if she were a stalker or something?
Oh, good night. There's supposed to be a meeting between one of the twins and Boyfriend Beau that night, and the BSC decides to go to it and get dirt on the twin...but they call Sgt. Johnson "as backup." What cop in his right mind agrees to play back up for a bunch of little girls?Why would the Martinezes have Luke present the map at the town council meeting? The kid's traumatized enough already.
New charactersLuke and Amalia Martinez (8 and 3)--24 and 19
Benson and Steig Retlin (11 and 8)--27 and 24No outfits in this one!
Next week: Keeping up the Cary Retlin luv, next week will be #124 Kristy in Charge.