Monday, December 1, 2014

“I’d give her to you to hold, but I’m afraid I’d come home to a green baby.” BSC Mystery #9: Kristy and the Haunted Mansion (1993)

This mystery is stupid for a lot of reasons. I know I say that about a lot of the mysteries, but really. Honestly, after that joke I made about the BSC being theScooby gang a few weeks back, I really expected Kristy to pull the head off the old caretaker and say, “I can’t believe it. It’s Old Hickory!” and have Bart reply, “And he would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for us meddling kids!”
Kristy, Charlie, Bart and selected Krashers are riding home from a game when two bridges wash out, leaving them stranded on a small stretch of land with one house. The caretaker lets them stay, and they discover a mystery. The caretaker had been engaged to the daughter of the family, Dorothy Sawyer, years before, but she’d mysteriously vanished on the day they were supposed to elope. She was presumed drowned because the bridges had washed out that night as well. But of course, she’s actually alive and well and running the sewing store in Stoneybrook.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: first, there’s Karen, and if you look closely (at the real cover, not this picture of it) you can see Krushers is spelled with a C. One point for consistency. Also, this is the way I picture Kristy dressing most of the time, although there’s something really weird about her shorts. She must have some seriously heavy crap in her pockets because they’re bulging in a strange fashion:

The list of Krashers in the van with Charlie, Bart and Kristy on the way to the game in Redfield: DM, Nicky, Jackie, Karen, Buddy and Bashers Jerry, Joey, Chris and Patty. I was going to get all OCD and check to see if the names were the same as mystery #7, but then Kristy points out that they’d changed the lineup a little bit.
Stupid thing #1: Charlie is driving all the starters for the game to the game. This would make sense to me only if they got there early to practice or warm up or something. But by the time they get to the field, not only are the parents of most of the kids in the van already there (meaning that they didn’t just pick up all the kids who had no ride, either), but so are a couple other team members who are there in case they’re needed for backup.
“Soon the game began. I won’t bore you with all the details….” Too late, Kristy. Too late.
Is there a scarier phrase in the clothing-world than “polka-dotted jumpsuit”? Feel free to comment if you can think of anything ickier that Claudia’s ever worn.
Huh. Kristy is afraid of lightning.
Stupid thing #2, which directly relates to stupid thing #1: It’s pouring when Charlie sets off with the kids. Only Nicky goes home with his family, the rest climbing back into the van. How many parents would be comfortable with someone who’s had his license for less than a year driving their kids home in a thunderstorm?
The caretaker talks like he’s from the 1800s. “Confounded contraptions.” I wonder if that’s what AMM thinks all ‘country people’ talk like, or it’s just this dude, living alone at a mansion without phones.
Okay. So these kids (the Krashers, Bart, Kristy and Charlie) are lost in the middle of nowhere, with no way to contact civilization, and the little ones are understandably upset about this…until Bart points out they get to sleep in their clothes. That would not have been a plus for me when I was a kid.
The triplets are talking backwards, which my sister and I used to do all the time. It takes forever to try to pronounce things the right way when you say them in reverse. (Although we would say entire sentences backwards: Reppus rof emit instead of Emit rof reppus.) Mary Anne can’t follow them, but Mal can, which either means they’ve been doing it for hours, so she’s used to it by now, or she’s just way smarter.
When the van doesn’t come home, everyone keeps calling one another. Interestingly, instead of calling the Brewer-Thomas house, Bart’s dad calls Claudia. Maybe he had a BSC flier or something?
Stupid thing #3: The house is all immaculately kept and not the slightest bit musty or moldy, but the owner of the house died nearly sixty years before. I have a hard time keeping my basement from smelling musty after a couple weeks. Yet everything is still original and pristine. The caretaker must regularly be washing the bedding, drapes and other soft goods, so I would think some of it would wear out after a while.
Karen finds Dorothy’s diary and encourages Kristy to read it aloud, which Kristy does (even though she feels bad about snooping.) The young girl says she’s eager to marry her fiancé, but at the same time, she doesn’t want to go straight from her father’s house to her husband’s. I wonder if this was an unconscious basis for a story I’m writing right now about a girl who is about the same age, only in more modern times. Both girls want to travel and see the world before they settle down. I’m going to say no, simply because I last read this back in 1994 or so, while I started writing that a few months ago.
One of the downsides to them using actual dates in here is that it truly dates the book when you pick it up again 21 years later. Dorothy wrote her diary almost 80 years ago (the first half of 1935), so at the end of the book when they find her, she’d be 97 these days.
Claudia spelling! Wassnt, nigth, sik, caugth, rane, pruple, yelow, Jamee, questoins, thees, reely. Then she tries three times to spell disastrous before giving up.
OH HELL YEAH! I KNEW there was a book where Claudia’s tie-dye bled everywhere. That happened to me once, only much less dramatically. The title quote comes from Mrs. Newton’s response to this.
WWKS: What would Kristy say? I don’t know, but it would probably be a little insensitive.
I read a sentence very wrong. Here’s what I saw: “I’m sure they’ll be fine,” said Jamie. “Kristy is very intelligent and resourceful.” It was actually Janine who said it, but I was momentarily thrown by how adult Jamie sounded.
“Kids can die, right?” Jamie worries incessantly after Claudia tells him the Krashers are missing. Let’s ignore the idiocy of actually telling Jamie what happened. (She’s thirteen, people keep calling, and Jamie can tell something is wrong; I’ll forgive her.) Jamie gets right to the heart of the matter with that question. After my nephew died, his older brother—who is just about Jamie’s age—became horribly morbid, and he’s stayed that way. Many kids go through that phase, where they ‘kill’ everything or everything dies. It’s how they deal with fears about the possibility they could die themselves. Claudia handles that part pretty well, telling him that kids can die but it doesn’t happen very often.
Kristy keeps referring to the Krashers as the “older kids” and the “younger kids.” The kids are mostly seven, eight, and nine. So is there really going to be a distinction? It’s not like they brought all the nine-year-old-characters and then Gabbie and Jamie.
“The next person who makes any noise is going to have to sleep all by himself in the attic.” This is how Bart finally gets the kids to be quiet after hours of giggling.
Dawn is sitting around waiting for news on the Krashers, and she’s getting antsy. So Sharon suggests she go clean her room, to which Dawn replies, “I’m not that desperate.”
Claudia actually starts calling hospitals—while still sitting for Jamie; I really hope he was in bed by then!—to see if the Krashers were brought in. The police are searching for the missing people, so that’s definitely something that already would have been done.
I love how everyone is so freaked out by Kristy being missing, when it’s not even the first time this has happened to a BSC member! Stacey and her mom went missing during the snowstorm, and of course—my favorite—Claudia and Dawn were stranded on a frickin’ island! Yet the BSC all write notes to Kristy in the notebook, including Jessi’s comment that this had to be the sitting adventure of all time. Um, they were missing for a whole whopping sixteen hours or something. Settle down.
Speaking of the notebook: Claudia spelling! Apitite, bole (which apparently is a real word; Claud means bowl), wateing.
This amused me, and not just because everyone laughed at Karen:
Karen: There’s the library. Remember when you took me there and I got out the book about Frog and Toad?
Kristy: Do I remember? I should hope so. It was only two days ago!
Claudia makes a friggin’ banner to welcome them home, only it says Wellcome home, Krasherz. Again, they were missing for fewer than 24 hours!
Yes! Consistency again! While deciding upon pizza toppings, Claudia makes a joke about wanting anchovies all over everything, then rolls around laughing. (Which sounds suspiciously accurate for a thirteen year old and nothing like a normal BSC member.) Kristy points out that she actually likes anchovies, which has come up in a book before. If only I could remember which one… (I personally like pineapple anchovy pizza. It’s like Hawaiian pizza, only with salty fish instead of piggy.)
Dawn goes around at school retelling Kristy’s night in the mansion (um, doesn’t Kristy spend every night in a mansion anyway??) as a ghost story, exaggerating profusely. Instead of getting mad, Kristy just insists Dawn tell her what supposedly happened, so that she’s better prepared when people come up to her.
Claudia tells everybody the Vanishing Hitchhiker urban legend, complete with the FOAF (friend-of-a-friend) attribution. It happened to a cousin’s friend.
Final stupid thing: If Dorothy managed to get the hell out of town and see the world, why would she come back to the same general vicinity? Will the caretaker might have come to town someday to buy a needlepoint pattern and recognized her.
Claudia: polka-dotted jumpsuit with a hand-painted scarf; yellow, purple and green tie-dye shirt, jean shorts
Stacey: polka-dot pajamas

Coming soon: December will be a month of 10s. In approximate order, I’ll be covering: SS#10, Logan Bruno, Boy Babysitter, Mystery #10 and #67.


  1. "WWKS: What would Kristy say? I don’t know, but it would probably be a little insensitive."

    I"m still laughing. So funny, and so true.

    And then for mood whiplash, how said about your nephews. I remember reading that your baby nephew had passed away, but I didn't realize he had an older brother. That would be so hard for the parents; grieving your child while trying to explain what's going on to your other child and care for him too. They must be very strong people. Wasn't that about a year ago that all happened? I'll be keeping the family in my thoughts and prayers more than usual with the holidays and possibly the annivesrary approaching.

    1. Thank you! We lost Silas in August, 2013. He was six weeks old. He has an older brother and sister who are now 7 and 4. They're really tough kids and my "sister" (not blood, but sister all the same) is one of the strongest women I've ever met.

    2. You don't need to be blood-related to be family. I have aunts and uncles who are my parents' full siblings, half siblings, adopted siblings, and step-siblings. Family is family.

      I cannot imagine the grief your family has gone through. You'll all be in my thoughts.

  2. I believe Kristy and Bart liking anchovies is mentioned in book 38, among others.