Saturday, April 9, 2016

“This is a stupid way to die.” BSC Mystery #30: Kristy and the Mystery Train (1997)

This is the second Kristy mystery centered around a Derek Masters plotline. Were there any justice in the BSC-universe, those both should have been Jessi plots.
Derek’s back in town, and he’s taking a train trip as publicity for his new mystery movie. Kristy, Abby and Stacey go along for the ride, along with Nicky, David Michael, Linny, James and Buddy. Weird things go on during the ride, odd notes show up everywhere, and then Stacey and Kristy see a man pushed overboard (over rail?) Turns out that the screenwriter stole the script from a student of his, who wanted credit. He’d faked his own death and then tried to kidnap the screenwriter’s son before the BSC and a couple of adults subdue him.
The pool at the country club from mystery #23 opens for the summer, and Stephen Stanton-Cha is acting oddly. Eventually, the sitters find out he doesn’t know how to swim. Jessi helps him feel more comfortable in the water and he has a good time after that.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover is completely hideous. I think the mystery of the train is how horrible Kristy and Abby look here…

Kristy introduces Karen as her stepfather’s daughter, which is kind of an odd way of putting it. I mean, it’s technically true, but sort of roundabout. It’s almost as if I identified my mother as my father’s ex-wife.
The Masterses drive a Mercedes station wagon.
Stacey points out that Mal would like to see Louisa May Alcott’s house, but given that that is Mary Anne’s favorite book, wouldn’t see be just as interested?
Elizabeth and Watson are way too nice. After the Masterses agree to take a total of nine kids* on the train trip, the Brewers take the five Stoneybrook kids and the three sitters up to Boston for the night. The kids are all ramped up, so they have to get them a seafood dinner**, three hotel rooms, and all the expenses related to a day-long walking tour of the building.
*Derek, Todd, DM, Buddy, James, Linny, Nicky, Derek’s friend Greg and Todd’s friend Daniel
**I thought Abby was allergic to seafood? I’m going to need to review her allergies here sometime soon.
I can’t explain why, but every time I try to write Buddy Barrett’s name, I type Butty. And then, because I’m so juvenile, I giggle a little bit.
“I woke up early the next morning to…Abby breath.” This also made me giggle.
Oh, here Stacey goes again. She calls Boston a ‘little’ town because it’s smaller than NYC. If Logan’s superpower is superdickery, Stacey’s is supersnobbery.
People we meet on the train (aka suspects): Rock Harding (love that Hollywood name), the director; Ronald Pierce, screenwriter (and Daniel’s father); Anne Arbour, publicist (named after a city, hee hee); Jane Atlantic, reporter (Kristy keeps pointing out how much she looks like Stacey, so you know that’s going to be important); Benjamin Athens (People’s sexiest man on the planet) and Elle San Carlos, leads in the movie; Charlie, Elle’s husband/ex-husband
I loooove the idea that Benjamin and Elle are having an affair for publicity, yet we’re given the impression that Elle and her hubby aren’t quite divorced yet. It’s all insinuation so far, but it’s a lot more adult than you see in most of these books.
Nicky actually asks if everyone who lives in California is a vegetarian, and Greg (who is Californian and vegetarian, hence the question) says no. But the BSC books tend to give the opposite conclusion.
I like this: Kristy decides to keep an eye on Nicky and Greg, because they’re Derek’s two best friends, meeting for the first time. She equates it to when she got to know Dawn. I also related it to SS#8, when Linny and Nicky—DM’s two best friends—fought all the time. Obviously, they got over it, as they’re both on this trip and getting along.
You have to wonder who’s in charge of this train trip and whether they should be fired. I mean, a bunch of tomfoolery occurs and slips of paper saying ‘The truth will come out’ are everywhere, yet no one seems to be doing too much to stop it. Derek suggests that a rubber severed hand served as a lunch entrée was a publicity stunt. Kristy disagrees because Anne, the publicist, seems horrified by it all. Cynical adult me wonders whether Anne’s worried for the movies stars or whether she’s worried about losing her job…
The BSC members who aren’t on the mystery train show up for the first day of the country club to help man it. Mary Anne shows up looking like she stole her dad’s old clothes, which kind of makes me laugh. And Jessi’s wearing ‘reef runners.’ I had to Google that to see what they were.

Oh, and Claudia is teasing Mallory about her hat and cover-up and high powered SPF sunscreen. Mal does seem like the kind of person who would burn very easily in the sun—reddish hair, fair skin—but we all know it’s usually Mary Anne who has to cover up like that. (Mal says she’s worried about getting more freckles, though.)
Leave it to Karen to make sure everyone is following the pool rules. I have to admit, I was that kind of kid too, but I was never outspoken enough to boss my friends around.
The title quote is Kristy’s thoughts when their train car fills with smoke and they can’t get the door open. (It’s just a smoke bomb, but everyone’s majorly tense afterward…until Linny’s grateful it wasn’t a stink bomb and all the boys start laughing.)
I think the only reason Stacey is in on this mystery is because she’s up on Hollywood gossip in a way most of the BSC wouldn’t be.
Grr. Daniel, Todd’s little friend, is described as being stocky in passing when he first appears in the story. The first time Daniel actually gets to talk, he’s mad at his father because Mr. Pierce said Daniel couldn’t have any more ice cream. It’s more subtle than the BSC always mentioning how fat Norman is, but I still don’t like it. Later, when Daniel is upset after he witnesses someone allegedly going over the side of the train, his dad buys him by…getting him more ice cream.
“Next time you decide to witness a murder, could you wait until I’m around?” –Guess who
This is kind of weird. As I mentioned earlier, Mal, Jessi, Claudia and Mary Anne are supervising the kids at the opening of the country club pool. One of the kids hanging around the pool, waiting for it to reopen after lunch, is Ben Hobart. He keeps making jokes about barfing and teasing the kids. I’m wondering if the ghostwriter got the Hobart boys confused. James, the same age as many of the kids who were at the pool—Karen and friends, Charlotte, Becca, Jackie, Luke, etc—was with Derek on the train. Maybe they’ve confused Mathew, who would also fit into this age range, with Ben? Otherwise, there’s a good reason that Mal and Ben never got their pseudo-relationship off the ground.
Okay, I have a favorite scene in this book, for a very odd reason. Mal is putting on more sunscreen—SPF 60 this time, and waterproof. Karen becomes concerned that if the sunscreen is really waterproof, it will never come off and Mallory would be stuck with sunscreen on her forever! Normally, this would turn into Karen going off on a tangent and being obnoxious. When she starts, Mal shuts her down by pointing off that it will wash off with soap, so Karen’s story is moot. She then won’t let her keep talking about it. I now love Mallory.
Abby tells Kristy there’s an ocean of mystery about Jane Atlantic, and even Kristy thinks it’s her worst pun yet. Oh, and Abby thinks that Anne Arbour’s name is a horrible pun as well.
Why in the hell would the babysitters tell the kids—mostly eight year olds—about the alleged murder they witnessed? That’s horribly irresponsible.
You know someone’s got a lot of clothing on the train when even Stacey says that it’s too much clothing.
Why does everyone on this train leave their compartment unlocked? The babysitters take the seven older boys to do some illegal searches, and every sleeper compartment they go into is open, and no one is inside them.
Claudia spelling. Praty (party…she spells it right 4 out of 5 times), anemals.
At the pool party, there is a silly bathing cap contest, and earlier, Mallory notes that Jenny is wearing one. The only time I ever wore a swim cap when I was growing up was when I went to Girl Scout camp and had to wear one. I would have never worn one when swimming for fun.
Kristy thinks she’d like to be a movie director someday…because it would give her a lot of people to boss around.
I only have five more mysteries left to read: two Mary Annes, a Stacey, an Abby and a Kristy. As flat-out awful as some of these books have been, I’m sort of sad about that. (If I keep up this pace, I’ll be done with this blog by the end of the year. Expect a lot more awwwwww! Ultra-mega-sad-face moments out of me…)
Stacey: ‘butter-colored’ linen shirt, chino shorts, cork-sole sandals
Claudia: red shorts, purple crop top, red and white muscle shirt, purple socks, red high tops, apple earrings; tie-dyed t-shirt knotted at the waist, flower sandals and barrette
Jessi: pink leotard, jeans; blue bike shorts and sports bra, red t-shirt, reef runners
Mallory: long sleeved shirt, shorts, sneakers, hat
Mary Anne: green Izod shirt, baseball cap with ‘Ted’s Tools’ on it

Next: #110

1 comment:

  1. Abby is allergic to shellfish but perhaps not all seafood.

    Maybe Karen prefers the swimming cap to earplugs, which she needed to wear while swimming in SS1.

    That makes me ultra mega sad, too.