Thursday, June 25, 2015

“Is this was a stakeout—or a pigout?” BSC Mystery #18: Stacey and the Mystery at the Empty House (1994)

Sorry that updates have been so sparse. Now that I’ve survived nasal surgery, I’m hopefully going to be back to doing one book a week, but updates may come every couple of weeks—or even once a month—like this.
We’re finishing up 1994 with this little gem, which I have not read before. Let’s see if I can solve the mystery before Stacey does.
Stacey’s housesitting for the Johanssens, and ‘mysterious’ things keep happening: small details like a warm coffeemaker that no one should have been using, a glass that was moved, a hairbrush with red hair in it. She worries that someone’s been in the house besides the dog. And someone has. He’s a friend of the Johanssens that pops in unannounced. He left Stacey a note but Carrot the dog ate it.
Meanwhile, Kristy throws yet another BSC party, because it can’t be a holiday without an illogical party. Watson was given a hay or sleigh ride as a gift, and the BSC decides to take a whole mess of little childers with them. Unfortunately, the Arnold twins only hear ‘sleigh ride’ and tell everyone that’s what will be happening. Luckily for the BSC, it snows at the last second, causing their butts to be saved.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Why do they always describe Stacey as having a perm, yet she rarely has one on the cover?

Ooh, I love when we learn things about the BSC parents. Stacey’s surprised to learn that her mother spent her junior year of college in Paris and almost married a boy named Jean-Paul.
Claudia Kishi, the Junk Food Queen of Stoneybrook
Haha! Charlotte speaks French as well as Tessie does. (Sorry, Tess, but it’s true.) Mercy buckets!
This book actually takes place before SS #12, because Dawn’s not back from Cali yet. I wasn’t sure when I planned book order out, and anyway, I didn’t want to read two Staceys back to back.
This isn’t surprising, but I don’t think it’s been mentioned before: Claudia is constantly redecorating her Kid-Kit.
Robert keeps calling Carrot other vegetable names: Zucchini, Rutabaga, Eggplant, Celery. Not only is it cute, it’s understandable. I mean, why did the Johanssens name their dog Carrot anyway? (I shouldn’t talk, though, given that two of the three cats I’ve named are character namesakes: Scout and Dobby)
Stacey thinks she’s silly for talking to Carrot. Obviously, she’s never had a pet.
Chapter three includes a detailed description of the Johanssen house. If I were a different sort of person, I’d definitely have to include a blueprint here for your perusal.
While Stacey’s mom reads the paper (about the dangerous escaped convict), Stacey checks her horoscope. Good to know she’s got her priorities in order!
Every time they describe Carolyn Arnold’s hair as being “short in the front with longer curls in the back,” all I can think is, ‘it’s a ****ing mullet!’
The Arnolds are that family everyone knows that over-decorate their house. There used to be a house in St. Charles, Illinois where there were so many lights that literally every brick was outlined. That’s how I’m picturing the Arnolds’ house. Also, Mrs. Arnold makes at least two batches of cookies a day. I love sweets, but that’s a lot of damn cookies. Maybe she should get a job if she’s got that much time on her hands.
So the mystery doesn’t start in earnest until chapter 6, when Stacey finds a drinking glass in the Johanssen’s sink that wasn’t there before. Then she finds the coffeemaker warm, trash in a previously empty trash can and Carrot’s leash is moved. She starts getting paranoid, understandably so, but she jumps straight to the assumption that the escaped convict must be living in the Johanssen’s house!
Ha! The meter reader who scares the shit out of Stacey tells her to never get involved romantically with a coworker. Stacey assures her she won’t, but I kept thinking about all the fanfic I’ve read where Stacey’s dated just about every member of the BSC.
The rest of the BSC doesn’t learn about the mystery until chapter 8, when Stacey counts up that nine weird things had happened. This is opposed to some of the other members who hear something slightly weird and automatically go straight to the rest of the club screaming that there’s a mystery! (Mostly this is just Mallory, which is funny because Mallory doesn’t even get to narrate any of the mysteries except that stupid cat one.) Does this say something about Stacey, or Mallory?
It’s definitely Stacey. She doesn’t even tell Robert what’s going on. Trust issues much?
Claudia praises Shannon for winning a debate, and then politely asks her what it was about. Any fool could tell you that Claudia wasn’t going to understand what Shannon was talking about, so I don’t know why a) Claud asked or b) Shannon even bothered answering.
Heh. Since Dawn’s gone, someone has to suggest that a ghost is at work! (Plus, it gives Jessi a purpose.)
Oh, look, a whole page long description of a book I just read a few weeks ago. I better read that closely, in case I forgot what just happened. /sarcasm
This is followed by a three page discussion of Chanukah, which is already over. (Mary Anne is sitting for the Kuhn family, so that’s good consistency.)
Hah! Stacey is still wearing a Swatch. It’s not 1987 anymore!
A new clue (a bright red hair in a hairbrush at the Johanssens’) sends Stacey calling Claudia in a panic. When Stacey shouts ‘hair’ into the phone, Claud assumes she’s having a ‘hair emergency.’ Leave it to the two of them.
Ooh, time for an emergency BSC meeting!
I love the on-going BSC logic that they shouldn’t call the police, even though they believe that someone has broken into/trespassed in the Johanssen house. I get it, to some extent, given that they got the brush-off from cops in the past, but they don’t even call the police when they have actual evidence of a crime in some of these books.
When Nicky says he hates all girls, Jessi tries to lighten the situation by asking him if he likes her. He says she’s the only girl he likes—not even his own sisters (or Marilyn Arnold, the reason the topic comes up in the first place.) That sounds about right for an eight year old boy.
The title quote comes from the stakeout-sleepover at Jessi’s, which is designed to allow the BSC to keep an eye on the Johanssens’ house. Jessi discovers that the Johanssens have the same answering machine her family does; it also has a really stupid feature that will help their surveillance. Basically, it’s like an extremely primitive nanny cam: by calling the house and putting in a special code, they can hear what’s going on in the same room. Mary Anne asks if that’s legal, but Stacey figures that being paid to watch the house means it’s fine to eavesdrop on it in any way, shape or form.
Sharon made hot chocolate. Is it made with carob and coconut milk?
During the post-sleigh ride party, Logan and Mary Anne ‘slipped off quietly.’ My brain went straight to a quiet make out session outside of the barn, but they really went to dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus.
So the kids decide they luuuuuuuuuuv the BSC so much they have to give them gifts. Kristy gets a personalized ball cap; Stacey, papier-mâché earrings; Claudia, junk food (lol); Shannon, bead necklace; Jessi, hair ties; Mal, sketch book. The lamest gifts were Vanessa ‘portrait’ of Tigger for Mary Anne (canNOT be good) and Logan’s…rock with his name on it.
Sappy ending. Blah!
Stacey: silk teddy (ooh!), thermal shirt and leggings, turtleneck, heavy multicolored sweater…but apparently, no pants besides her thermal leggings. And why does Stacey even own a teddy?

Next: #82 Jessi and the Troublemaker

1 comment:

  1. I bet Charlotte named the dog when she was really little. My husband named a cat Caboose when he was three.

    I hope the rest of your recovery goes well!