Monday, April 27, 2015

“This isn’t Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Bank.” BSC Mystery #16: Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph (1994)

I'm posting these three entries on very limited wi-fi access...links and such will follow!
The BSC decides to put together a book to entice Dawn to come back from California (since she went on a ‘six month’ visit in September and it’s now summer), so they give all the kids they sit for cameras to photograph a Day in the Life of Stoneybrook. Claudia takes dozens of pictures of the bank, just at the same time it’s robbed! Wow! And of course, the photos hold the clue to solving the robbery. The bank VP is in a lot of the photos and the BSC discover he’s wearing a watch and a pocket watch—which they figure out is just the hiding place for a key to a safety deposit box where he hid all the missing money. Claudia’s photos save the day…but in the meantime, the BSC fears the mob and contemplates circumstantial evidence.
Interesting tidbits
The cover: real film. So old school!

Janine starts the book by complaining that Claudia is photographing her while eating. Obviously she’s never met Tessie’s mom, who insists upon getting shots of everyone with mouths full of food. And absolutely everything else. (“Teah, you and your husband and kids get into a picture here. And Bee, you and your husband and kids get into a photo here. Oh, and Tessie and Teeki? You don’t have husbands or kids, so sit on that couch and I’ll take your photo together for the 700th time sitting in the same spot…”)
Janine is also, it should be noted, absolutely humorless about her work-study job.
The way we are introduced to the BSC: Claudia tries to take a picture that ‘capture the essence’ of each member. Stacey does ‘Vogue’; Kristy strikes a peace sign; Mary Anne covers her eyes, etc.
Actually the most interesting part of that is that Claudia and the rest of the BSC can tell who’s coming in by their tread on the stairs.
Heh. Claudia says that Franklin DeWitt sounds like one of the founding fathers.
What is it with Suzi Barrett’s name? Sometimes they spell it Suzy; sometimes as Suzie.
So ever since the Barretts had to give Pow away, they have amassed a small collection of dander-free animals, like a turtle and gerbils and fifteen fish (named after famous baseball players, so you know who named those.)
I really can’t believe that Mal would actually let Byron climb up on the roof by the gutter. It sounds like a very dangerous choice, and Mal’s supposed to be all responsible.
“Those new disposable cameras.” What I’ve learned reading the BSC the last two weeks: the dated references are the most interesting part of the books now.
Claudia photographs Janine in the bathroom. Isn’t that taking things a bit too far? My sister used to take pictures of people coming out of the bathroom as a way of annoying us. Come to think about it, I think that was 1994 or 1995. I wonder if she still has those pictures? Hmm….
The excuse for Claud to be taking 300 shots of the bank? She suddenly noticed a whole bunch of details in the façades on the front of all the buildings, and that was the most interesting to her. She also defines and pronounces façade for the readers. I’ve always loved when the BSC books would do it, even if it wasn’t as interesting as Lemony Snicket’s definitions.
Billy Blue is totally the Justin Bieber of Stoneybrook 1994.
Mary Anne describes the whole plot of ‘an old movie’ that basically mirrors this plot, but she can’t remember the title. I like the consistency that she’d have seen that—she seems to be an old movie buff (or at least an Audrey Hepburn buff, mentioning Roman Holiday and Sabrina). I wonder if this movie actually exists?
The title quote comes from Stacey making fun of Claudia’s assertion that she’s going to solve this mystery even before she’s sure she has anything useful in her photos. As Kristy points out, it’s not as if there was an armed bank robbery and Claudia happened to be photographing the front of the bank at that time. It was believed to be a bank embezzlement instead.
Stacey decides that one of the people in the photos must be a banker…because he’s wearing a pocket watch. I love when the BSC gets all their knowledge from old timey movies, TV shows and cartoons. Kristy: If he’s a banker, why isn’t he in the bank?
Claudia spelling: Becka, Sharlote, detectivs, thouhg.
Stacey suggests a few more alternative Nancy Drew titles: The Bank Robbery Mystery and Mystery at the Bank. Claud pipes up with The Mistery of the Missplaced Money.
Let’s compare the Newton kids to dogs! Jamie looked like a puppy angling for a treat when he looked at Stacey with a hopeful look in his eyes. A short time later, it’s stated that Lucy knows what ‘walk’ means…like dogs that go crazy when you say the word.
I like that, even though Charlotte and Becca are supposed to be all quiet and shy, they do get silly and wild on occasion. It’s more realistic that way, especially because this time they lose it because Charlotte said boogers. Oh, and then they keep going around and around in the revolving door at the bank, because what kid doesn’t love doing that?
Charlotte wants a safety deposit box…to keep her favorite Barbie in.
Wait a minute. It just occurred to me that Claudia was taking photos of the bank on Sunday, and that’s when the money was stolen. What kind of bank is open on Sunday?
Kristy tells Stacey off during their stakeout because she wants to say hi to Logan (who’s going into the bank.) First, blow their cover? Their cover is that they’re typical teenagers, hanging out near a bank. Saying hello to their friends would be perfectly normal for loitering adolescents. Second, she says he might be a suspect….even though there’s no way he could have stolen the money, since it was established to have happened when he was out of town.
Ha! Claudia’s photography teacher is ‘kind of cute for an old guy.’ One of my coworkers said the same thing the other day…about a guy who was around thirty years old.
Claudia suddenly realizes she has more bank photos on another roll of film, but while she’s developing the negatives, someone opens the door. Since no one else is home, the BSC decides that Mr. Zibreski (the bank VP and their #1 suspect) must be following them. He’s actually the head of the Russian mob and will have the BSC exterminated if they keep tailing him or uncover any evidence. Actually, they don’t quite go that far, but they’re pretty close. Only Shannon seems to think this is farfetched.*
Mary Anne’s a little obsessive with her camera. She took a whole roll of photos of Tigger playing with catnip, which, being a crazy cat lady myself, I completely understand. But she also took almost a whole roll of photos of Claudia…taking photos of the bank. That’s a little much.
It’s not until chapter 10 that it occurs to Claudia that the bank was closed on Sunday. She notices a light on in the bank and wonders about it. Yet there was no mention of this back when they were wondering whether a random lady with a baby carriage could have something to do with the theft (which, because of the manner of the theft, is determined to actually be a robbery at this point, not embezzlement.)
Claudia actually uncovers the baby in the baby carriage so she can make sure it’s really a baby…not a bunch of stolen money. This is the third time they’ve seen this woman walking around with the carriage, and well over a week has passed. Would the lady really still have the money in the carriage? If she was using it to carry stolen money, she would have ditched it a long time ago.
Sergeant Johnson is kind of an idiot. He tells some thirteen year olds that Mr. Zibreski is a suspect, then tells them not to tell anyone. He might as well just broadcast it on television. Teen girls aren’t exactly known for keeping secrets…not to mention that’s a total violation of police protocol. (C’mon, ghostwriter! Haven’t you ever watched a cop show?)
This is the second time the BSC has made a flip book out of pictures. I still like Shannon’s flipbook better. (Hmmm. Maybe Tessie and I should make a flipbook out of all those photos of us sitting on her sister’s couch?!?)
Claudia’s photo flip book hiding spot (in case she’s being tailed by the Zibreski Mafia, of course): under her gym clothes, in the bottom drawer of her dresser.
Oh look, more stupid traps…only they’re Mafia traps instead of burglar traps this time.
I stopped reading after chapter 11 so I could go to work—would have rather kept reading—but I didn’t stop thinking about the book. The problem with the photo project the BSC is putting together? It’s skewed wrong. The BSC gave cameras to a bunch of kids and told them to take pictures of whatever they saw in town. This leads to pictures of the triplets getting haircuts, a random bride getting married, and all kinds of other random stuff. What I think would have worked better is if the BSC members had taken the cameras and taken pictures of the kids. If you were Dawn, which would you rather see: A picture of the front window of Polly’s Chocolates, or a picture of Becca and Charlotte playing with Barbies? Mary Anne’s pictures—she’s photographing everyone else taking pictures—are probably the most interesting.
When they go to put the book together, all the kids are fighting…and it’s Jessi who takes charge, even though Kristy is there. I think that’s kind of interesting.
Claudia’s mom actually told her her ATM pin number, which is Claudia’s birthday. Not real smart.
The BSC gets all excited because they see a woman making a large number of withdrawals from the ATM, amassing a huge stack of money (which she ingeniously leaves sitting on the shelf next to the ATM so the BSC can see it, instead of, you know, putting it in her purse or something.) They think they’ve caught her making a withdrawal of the missing money. I was sitting there as they were congratulating themselves thinking:
1.    The biggest bill you can get out of an ATM is a $20; the BSC was assuming $100s.
2.    If the money were missing from the ATM, that would be a whole different money source than the bank. That would have been noticed.
Then Janine comes in and tells them basically the same things. I love her in this book; she’s the (only) source of logic and she keeps raining on the BSC’s parade when they think they’ve solved the case.
Claudia’s sign to keep people out of the bathroom while she’s using it as a darkroom? DARKR-*OM IN USE.
In order to get close-ups of her photos, Claudia takes photos of them. What makes me laugh though, is that they’re examining Mr. Zibreski closely, even checking to see if ‘he has a guilty look.’ Because that would stand up in a court of law: “Give him the chair, judge. He has that guilty look.”
Oh my gawd. Sergeant Johnson actually lets the BSC into the interrogation room with Mr. Zibreski because they figure out the final piece of the puzzle. This case should get thrown out of court right away because of all the investigational irregularities.
Ooh, bad pun. The newspaper headline after the mystery ends? Savvy Teens Find Key to Bank Mystery.
Kristy wants to find the lady with the baby carriage…so she can give her a BSC flier. I doubt she’d want Claudia babysitting for her after the stunt she pulled earlier.
*It’s actually Janine who opened the door. She totally lies to Claudia about it because it’s the second time she’s done it and she’s embarrassed.
Claudia: silky pink tank top, man’s white shirt, white jeans (NOOOOOOOO!) flip flops and barrette decorated with stars; jeans and Hard Rock Café shirt (is it an NYC shirt or do they have a Hard Rock in Stoneybrook? The most interesting part of those shirts, when they were popular, was seeing what location people had. When I was in fifth grade one of the kindergarteners in the class next door had one from the capital of Iceland, which I cannot spell.); lacy white shirt with big ruffled sleeves, deep green leotard, denim skirt, big black clunky boots; Sea City t-shirt and old shorts (for developing prints)
Janine: ratty pink robe and yellow hair turban (she gets understandably pissy when Claudia takes her picture while she’s brushing her teeth)

Coming next: #77


  1. I don't know if the movie MA mentions is real but the solution is the answer to a well-known logic puzzle.

    Claud's shirt is HRC NY: it's the one she got in book 18 when the older club members visit Stacey for the weekend and all of them buy shirts from the restaurant. Also, I doubt they'd go to the HRC almost every they're in NYC is the had one at home that they could go to all the time.

  2. The part about Claudia's film being ruined when the door was opened bothered me, because it's just wrong. You develop film negatives inside a light-proof bag. You can sit outside on a sunny day and the negatives won't be affected. The darkroom is for developing the actual photographs, which is done after the negatives are safely made. They only way to destroy negatives is to expose them to light before they're developed (which is why you do all those steps inside the bag; there are spots to put your hands in) or to rip them apart.

    And really good point about the photography project! I hope the kids took at least a few pictures of themselves and their friends.