Wednesday, September 30, 2015

“It looks deadly.” BSC Mystery #21: Claudia and the Recipe for Danger (1995)

Ooh, we are in the part of the mysteries where they are just so ludicrous that they’re funny to read. I can’t wait for the next mystery, which is Carrie meets the BSC meets my gut splitting with laughter.
A kids baking contest is set up, and Mary Anne and Claudia team up with Shea Rodowsky to try to bake the best creations. Someone’s sabotaging other peoples’ baked goods—and it’s not just Claudia, who would rather make up her own recipe than follow a real one, and nothing she creates tastes good. Claudia winds up teaming up with Grace Blume and finding out that the culprit is a girl too old for the competition who joined it anyway and her boyfriend, one of the contest officials. MA, Claud and Shea wind up winning when they use MA’s mother cake recipe.
Meanwhile, the rest of the BSC is running a daycare of sorts during the competition. They make a pretend restaurant with the kids and catch a liar.
Interesting Tidbits
I LOVE this cover. Claudia’s looking around all shiftily (which apparently is a word, even though it doesn’t sound like one), suspecting everyone. Mary Anne is looking at Shea like she’s upset with him, like whatever’s wrong with that baked good she’s holding is his fault, while he’s like ‘I don’t know what happened.’ Oh, and the banner's really low-rent for a professionally-sponsored contest.

Ha! Claudia says Jamie isn’t her boyfriend, then ask if the reader knows any cool boys. I think she’d have better luck hanging out with Jamie, to be honest.
I love Claudia’s charm bracelet, which has a miniature Hershey Kiss, a book (for her Nancy Drews), a crane (Japanese sign for peace), a credit card, a crayon, etc.
“Sometimes I think my humor never developed much past the four-year-old stage.” I say something similar, except I never outgrew being a ten-year-old boy.
This book actually takes place before the last one, because Dawn is still around.
Claudia describes the members of the BSC as if they were charms on a charm bracelet as well. Kristy is a baseball; Mary Anne, a kitten. Dawn would be sunglasses; Stacey, the Empire State Building. I’m guessing Mal is a book and Jessi, a pair of ballet slippers. (I was half right; a pencil and toe shoes.) She even does Logan (soccer ball…I think that’s the only team he’s NOT on, but this is pre-Abby) and Shannon (drama masks).
I like that Claudia acknowledges the connection she formed with Shea. She also says he’s great with figures and measurements.
The other teams we meet that are competing? Logan, Austin and Kerry; Grace, Cokie (who actually gets too sick to compete), and Mari Drabek; Pete, Erica and Lauren; Bill Korman and his friends Greg Wilson and David Simpson, Sara Hill, Elizabeth Sayers (her best friend, who is mentioned anytime Sara is mentioned) and Brittany DePew; several teams of out of towners that I’ll mention when they come up.
I think it’s interesting that Kristy wants to be the Cake Cop, making sure everyone follows the rules. She’s the same person who wanted to work with the security guards in the mall mystery.
Both Claudia and Kristy are wearing hats when the kids’ contest begins. Claudia’s is a baker’s hat covered in baking images (self-decorated, of course.) Kristy is wearing a Cincinnati Reds hat…because it has a red C…and that stands for Cake Cop.
The first day, someone switches Claudia’s team’s baking soda for flour, so their cake ends up flat, and turns the oven up high on Logan’s team, so their cake is burnt. (Grace and Mari win that day.)
On day two, Grace and Mari’s oven catches on fire because someone added a ton of baking powder (which is highly flammable.) Austin, Logan and Kerry win that day.
One of the competitors, Julie Liu, has parents that keep on her ass, telling her she isn’t taking the contest serious enough, or being creative enough in her baking. They have to be thrown out.
Claudia’s thrilled about her family’s new cordless phone. Imagine how she’d be with a cell phone.
Claudia’s adjectives for her kreatif kake resapees (lol): awful, disgusting, inedible, mondo-horrendous, barf-o-rama and puke-tacular.
Rachel Kleinman, another member of another team, also has a father who is a little too interested in his daughter’s baking. But her dad used to work for the company that’s sponsoring the contest, making him a suspect. Another girl goes by ‘Precious’ and also has an overbearing parent.
The title quote isn’t about one of Claudia’s cakes, but her comment on some ant poison her mom asked her to buy. I don’t know why I chose that; it just struck my fancy. Grace catches Claudia buying it and accuses her of sabotage. Instead, the two of them team up to solve the mystery.
We’ve all known a girl like Grace. She’s pleasant and nice and decent on her own, but her friends are toxic and when she’s with them, she’s equally bad. That’s the kind of girl who finds a new group of friends in high school and becomes popular and nice…or stays with their bad friends throughout high school and then comes to regret it later.
Heh. Claudia calls one of the teams the ‘Cute Boy team’ and distracts herself from the contest wondering what she should say to let the members know she’s available and interested.
Interesting. This story has two Tylers—both babysittees—and two Julies, one a babysittee and the other a contestant.
The stupid C plot relates to Kyle and Megan Farmer. A calculator turns up missing and later a terrarium gets broken. Kyle points the finger at his sister both times, while Megan just kind of shrugs. She denies these behaviors until told Kyle said it, then admits to them. Obviously Kyle is responsible for everything. It’s ridiculous.
The third day brings someone switching out Claudia’s bag of sugar with one that was full of salt. (She notices because the whole bag is different.) And someone replaces Logan’s eggs with hardboiled ones. (Mary Anne’s mom’s cake wins this time.)
Jackie is actually a suspect for a while, because he keeps disappearing from the daycare. But it turns out a lady gave him some baking ingredients and he was secretly making his own ‘cake.’ Why would Jackie have sabotaged Shea’s cake? Even if he was jealous, switching salt for sugar and putting baking powder in cornstarch seem too advanced for a seven-year-old.
The final five teams are Claud’s, Grace’s, Logan’s, Julie’s and Rachel’s. Of course. Those two were the main kid suspects and their parents were the main adult suspects.
Continuity: no one in the BSC-verse likes anchovies except Kristy and Bart.
Shea stumbles upon an interesting clue: The teams that got sabotaged on the first day were the ones whose stations looked tidiest. Grace and Mari’s station was a mess because Mari just throws things everywhere. But after they won the first day, the culprit saw them as a threat and sabotaged them as well.
I have never had to write the word sabotage this many times before. It looks really weird and I keep thinking I’m spelling it wrong.
“We’re dealing with a devious criminal mind.” Ooh! Does that mean Shemar Moore will be showing up soon?
Scandal! (Not the TV show this time!) Marty, the guy running the contest, gets caught kissing Julie Liu.
Claudia hatches a plan to catch the saboteur in the act. Her team makes sure that both the main suspects hear they have a ‘foolproof’ plan for winning. They put their cake in Grace and Mari’s oven and then dust flour all over every surface in their workstation. The best part? One of the contest judges catches them at it and is like WTF? So they rope her into catching their prey.
The menu for the ‘Kidz Kitchen’ is interesting, and Claudia had input into neither the name nor the menu. (The kids did everything.)  You can get a frute plate and have your sandwich on raisen toast or hole wheat. You can also get a chery Jell-O Jiggler or have popcorn covered in parmisan cheese or cimmanon and sugar. One of the drink choices is leminade, and my personal favorite? “Bug Salad (not real bugs)”
Everyone was so surprised that Marty was kissing Julie earlier that none of them except Claudia caught the significance of the fact that Julie was driving the car they got out of. The junior contest was for children under sixteen. If Julie was old enough to have a license, she was at least sixteen. Marty claims he was sabotaging everything to get her parents off her back…so they could have more time together.
Heh. Shea is only nine, but he’s already trying to be all macho. Claudia and Mary Anne both say what a good time they had working with him, and he agrees. They get all emotional—Mary Anne cries, of course—but he tries to pretend he’s not as upset as they are.
Claudia dreams up all these different names for their chocolate cake after they win, such as Cake a la Claudia, since the cake will be in a cookbook. That makes no sense at all. (They end up calling it Alma’s Memory Cake, which is a nice and logical name…especially if the book makes note that it is in memory of Alma Spier.)
“What would the BSC be without Cokie for an enemy?” I actually preferred this one, where she was home with no voice for the whole book.
New Characters
Tyler and Emily Austin (12 and 8)—32 and 28
Nichole, Taylor and Tyler Lavista (6, 3 and 3)—26, 23 and 23
Morgan and Dana Singer (8 and baby)—28 and 20
Kyle and Megan Farmer (9 and 7)—29 and 27
Greg Wilson (9)—29
David Simpson (9)—29
Brittany DePew (9)—29
Joseph and Julie Rodowsky (5 and 3)—25 and 23

Next: #89, and I vlog Kristy. Can’t miss that! (Should be posted tomorrow, along with the next entry.)


  1. The C plot could have be really interesting had it been fleshed out. What sort of dynamic was going on at home that the sister never objected to being blamed for everything? That's the mystery I'd like to see (and one more likely to be encountered baby-sitting than a lot of the mysteries).

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