Sunday, July 17, 2016

“Or else the torture room.” BSC Mystery #36: Kristy and the Cat Burglar (1998)

I’ve been a little distracted in posting for the past few weeks. Between wedding plans and having all three of my bridesmaids pregnant at the same time, I’ve been in a tizzy. Well, now only two of my bridesmaids are pregnant, as my baby sister gave birth to her beautiful, 9lb 10oz ‘big nugget’ this morning. I was planning to call the baby Munchkin if I referred to her on the blog—the way I call my ‘nieces’ Pepper and Kakies, but at that size, she’s not really a munchkin. Nugget is sticking! (Her real name, which I will not post for her privacy, is Shakespearean and absolutely lovely.)
Kristy, David Michael and Karen are wandering around to look at the ‘spooky house’ that is in the woods near their house. While they’re there, a shot rings out and the burglar alarm goes off. Officer Johnson got an anonymous call suggesting he check out the house at the same time the security officer got a call saying his wife was in the hospital. A bag of jewels was stolen, and a red cat was painted on the mail box, the MO of a thief known as The Cat Burglar.
The police officers make Sgt. Johnson their primary suspect. He claims it’s a setup, but he’s arrested anyway. Cary, who witnessed the crime as well, helps the BSC solve the crime. Cary joins Kristy, Mary Anne and Abby at the house, where the owner—who had employed the BSC to solve the crime—has a very rare lamp that had been stolen at an earlier Cat Burglar job. They’d just laid out all the evidence that Sgt. Johnson was innocent, right as Cary and Kristy realize he was the one who’d planted all the evidence. He is about to tie them up when the police arrive. The Cat Burglar is arrested, Sgt. Johnson was exonerated and the BSC vows not to solve mysteries again.
Meanwhile, apparently they hadn’t had a Harriet the Spy takeoff in quite a while, so Charlotte is going around spying on her friends…who get tired of being spied on, so they start spying on her.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Apparently, the newspaper article is shocking! Also, Kristy looks different than normal. The art isn’t done by Hodges Solieu or however that’s spelled. Oh, and Kristy’s neon green shorts are hawt!

Kristy runs into Cary, and says that the woods behind her house also abut Cary’s house. I have a few comments about that. Abby lives two houses down from Kristy, next to Morbidda Destiny, and there’s another yard backing up to her backyard—one small enough that she can see into his house through binoculars. And the map in the Complete Guide places Cary’s house on Burnt Hill Road, nowhere near Kristy’s house. Now, to be fair, if you continue down McLelland (Kristy’s street), it ends at Hazlet. Take that far enough and you hit Burnt Hill right at/near Cary’s house. Both Kristy’s house and Cary’s are on the far western side of this map, so it’s possible there are woods there. Maybe the road that our friend the embezzler’s house is on runs at an angle, so that Abby can see into Mr. Finch’s yard, but then woods become thicker and thicker so that Cary’s yard hits some real forest.
Wow, I put waaaaaaaay too much thought into that.
The BSC members are introduced by the best mystery they helped solve. I haven’t finished the chapter yet, but it should be funny when they get to Mal and Jessi, who both got pretty shitty mysteries for their only mystery book.
Um. Sgt. Johnson has some questions for Kristy about what she saw as she, Karen and DM approached Reinhart Golem’s house. (That name is flippin’ awesome, by the way). However, when he asks her to meet him at the police department, he says he’s not really questioning her, because that would require a parent. Instead, it’s just a consultation. This rubs in all the wrong ways. I know we’re supposed to consider Sgt. Johnson a suspect, but this is soooo wrong that I just want them to lock him up, separate from whether he’s The Cat Burglar or not. (Especially because he brings Cary in with his father.)
Oh, and then Kristy starts asking him questions about the burglary, and he answers them! Sure, he doesn’t suspect that Kristy—with two seven year old kids in tow—is The Cat Burglar, but you never know. Someone could have sent her as a distraction.
I like the fact that emphasis is placed on the fact that Claudia, MA, Kristy and Cary are all wearing bike helmets. That definitely wasn’t the case in the early books.
The title quote is what MA says right after Claudia finds the gym in Reinhart Golem’s house. I’m completely with Mary Anne on this one.
Wow, SPD really sucks. It takes Kristy and Cary to find a bullet casing and MA to find a bullet hole in the door and the marker used to put The Cat Burglar’s calling card on the mail box. Shouldn’t the coppers have found the casing when they secured the crime scene?
Kristy tells Golem the BSC had solved a lot of mysteries, including catching jewel thieves. They didn’t actually catch any jewel thieves. Not only were the thieves in mystery #8 actually actors, but that mystery didn’t involve any BSC member except Jessi. And the ‘jewel thief’ in mystery #1 was a cat. I can’t think of another mystery where any jewels were stolen or waylaid, except this one.
I liked this, too: Mallory researched The Cat Burglar and refers to him as a he. Jessi questions her sexist notion by suggesting that the burglar could also be female.
Unfortunately, that tiny victory is followed by a whole slew of cat jokes. Blechh.
The BSC’s list of suspects: Sgt. Johnson, because the police suspect him and he knows a lot about alarm systems; Ben Birch, Golem’s former partner; Jack Fenton, the security guard who responded to the house alarm; and Cary, because he was there at the time of the break in and knows a lot about guns.
Golem suggests that Sgt. Johnson’s fingerprints ‘may be’ all over the marker Mary Anne found at the crime scene. What? Kristy noted when the other two officers investigating the case, Sgt. Winters and Officer Hopkins, took the evidence from Golem, they probably wouldn’t be able to fingerprint it, because Golem put his hands all over it as he handed it over.
OOH! Time for the BSC to split up and take notes. What does that mean for us? You got it—Claudia’s spelling! Infourmation, heres’, weerd, culdn’t, anywhare, articals, buisness. This is followed by a babysitting notebook entry by Claudia, so…hearby, announse, officialy, nieghbors, wont.
Stacey convinces Cary that she’s really into bird watching, as an excuse to get into his house and learn a little bit more about him. Raise your hand if you think Cary actually fell for her line. He did invite Stacey in and show her his bird watching notebooks, though.
Jessi checked for information on Ben Birch on the internet, and all I could think is, if I had an eleven year old daughter, I wouldn’t want her on the internet without supervision.
More Claudia spelling! Tusday, dont. She also uses there for their.
Here’s a good clue and the BSC doesn’t even make a real connection. Years ago, Sgt. Johnson investigated Golem for smuggling, but the case was closed because there was no cause. The BSC thinks that Johnson may have held a grudge over that and therefore, robbed him. Huh?
The Thomas-Brewer clan has call waiting, yet Claudia’s phone doesn’t even have speaker capabilities. (Remember when Jessi had to have the operator break into Kristy’s conversation with Bart to tell her that Dawn and Claudia had been found alive?!? Those were the days!)
Mary Anne’s upset that the BSC suspects Sgt. Johnson. Claudia tries to soothe her…by making her eat a Butterfinger. Later, Kristy rewards Mal’s sleuthing the same way.
Sgt. Johnson shows up at the Kishi house to talk to Kristy, Claudia and MA, all the girls who’d been caught snooping at Golem’s house. Janine’s the one who answers the door, and she’s so curious that Kristy can feel it radiating off of her. I have been seeking the answer to a real-life mystery here for about a week, so I really feel her pain. I’m way more interested in whether Claudia tells her what’s going on later than I am in the solution to this mystery.
Also, does Sgt. Johnson know it’s BSC meeting time? If so, why did he take the time to learn that?!?
Oh, and then he goes and tells them he’s being suspected of the robbery, but he’s the victim of a frame up. Umm…doesn’t SPD have an internal affairs department that should be investigating stuff like that, not a bunch of thirteen and eleven year olds? And if they don’t believe him, I’d head straight to the sheriff’s office or the state police or something. Those are really serious accusations and not something that he should be throwing around lightly…especially not to the BSC, who can’t legally do anything to help him. (If I remember the rest of the book correctly, he’s actually right, but that’s beside the point…)
The only amusing part of the Charlotte-as-a-spy story (other than when Charlotte caught one of the triplets picking his nose? because you have to remember, I’m secretly a ten year old boy) is when Abby decides the only way to keep an eye on Charlotte and her friends while they’re doing their spy work is to spy on them.
I love this exchange between Kristy and Sam. You guys know how I enjoy it when the siblings in this book like each other but also antagonize one another.
Kristy: Leave me alone, I’m trying to think.
Sam: Aww, don’t do that. You might strain your brain.
Kristy drags Cary to the BSC meeting to tell the club what he saw during the robbery. He completely freaks out about going to the meeting. I really can’t believe that Cary would freak out about it…the BSC, yes, but not Cary. Remember how weirded out they were when Logan first started coming to meetings? But very little seems to ruffle Cary.
Golem is a giant rich-guy stereotype. He comes to the door in a blue velvet smoking jacket with satin lapels, matching slippers, holding a brandy and a cigar. I kept waiting for him to swirl his brandy.
The final two pieces to the puzzle? Cary recognizes a lamp from a Cat Burglar burglary in Golem’s house, and Golem realizes the BSC knows the evidence against Johnson was planted. Just as Golem starts to lock them in, Cary attacks him and earns them just enough time for Abby and Mary Anne to escape. But the real winner in this case is Jessi, who happens to paw through the reservation log and see that Golem was in Chez Maurice on the day of the burglary, when he claimed he was still in France, so the BSC members who weren’t at Golem’s called the police.
So that’s the last BSC mystery. I am I sad about that? A little. But mostly only because there seems to be less Cary Retlin in the books when there aren’t mysteries to solve.
Stacey: khakis, white button down, brown boots
Charlotte: jeans, red sweatshirt, red sneakers
Claudia: purple painters pants, red high tops with purple laces, red sweatshirt with purple embroidery, purple glasses frames with no lenses

Next: #124

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials, and a new (GIGANTIC) baby in the family!