Mallory has a steady sitting job with the Craine family, and she's really enjoying it. The three little girls are a lot of fun, and the parents are nice. Mal even gets to meet the girls regular sitter, Aunt Bud. Bud is out of commission for awhile due to a broken leg, hence the Craines needing to hire Mallory. Bud rides a motorcycle, but does NOT have a tattoo or offer Mallory a beer. Just thought that was woth mentioning. ;)
One day, when Mal is at the Craines, she hears an odd noise. She realizes that it's a cat, but she can't find one anywhere in the house. Mal asks Margaret, the oldest of the three Craine girls, where their cat usually hides, but Margaret tells her that they don't have a cat. Mrs. Craine tells her the same thing. Mal's next job proves she's not just hearing things, though; the girls hear the cat noises as well. They go on a hunt, and find a white cat up in the attic. The girls put him in the laundry room with something to eat, and decide to call him Ghost Cat.
Mr. and Mrs. Craine allow the girls to keep Ghost Cat, and they're awfully excited to show him off to Mallory during her next visit. Unfortunately, he's developed a habit of escaping from the laundry room and hiding whenever the door is opened, which is exactly what he does. Mallory and the Craines go on another cat hunt, and end up back in the attic. They don't find Ghost Cat, but they do find a bunch of letters written by a former owner of the house. His name was Kennedy Graham, and, as Mal and the girls discover after reading some of the letters, his only companion in his old age was his cat, Tinker. His WHITE cat. It practically undid Mr. Graham when the cat died. This gets the girls thinking: could Ghost Cat really be a ghost??? Not so much; Mallory has Dawn come over and run a whole bunch of tests on the cat, and they prove he's flesh and blood. Even so...Mal still hears something meowing from the upper part of the house, even when Ghost Cat is sitting right in front of her.
During Dawn's visit, Mal gets a call from a man claiming to be the cat's owner. Even though the Craine parents are fine with the girls keeping him, they had put an ad in the paper anyway. The man describes Ghost Cat (who is actually Rasputin) to a T, and he arranges to come get him in two days. Mallory happens to be there when he does, and she gets the surprise of her life. The man looks EXACTLY like the picture of Kennedy Graham that was found with the letters. Could Ghost Cat be a ghost after all?
Being able to escape to the Craines a few days a week has been a huge relief for Mal. Her dad's Uncle Joe has been staying with them, and the Pike house has not been a happy place. Uncle Joe is cranky, doesn't engage with the rest of the family, says and does a lot of weird stuff, and makes life stressful for Mallory and her brothers and sisters. Near the end of the visit, Mr. and Mrs. Pike break the truth to the kids: Uncle Joe is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. He moves to Stoneybrook Manor earlier than planned, where he can get the care he needs
Thoughts and Things
- When the Pikes are on their way to Stoneybrook Manor to visit Uncle Joe, Mallory says that the last time she was there was to visit Ronald Hennessey during "The Mystery of Stoneybrook." Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Mal went with Stacey and the others on that occasion. Silly, since I'm fairly certain that Ellen Miles wrote both this book and that one.
- The Uncle Joe subplot is probably the most depressing one in the series. Yes, there have been plenty of sad books, but there was always some sort of resolution. Louie dies, but the Thomases grieve for him and then get Shannon. Mimi dies, but Claudia grieves for her and finds ways to keep her memory alive. There really isn't a resolution for Uncle Joe. He may have good days, as the book says, but he isn't going to get better.
- Inviting Dawn over to do ghost tests seems like kind of a scary thing to subject a 6 year old, 4 year old, and and 2.5 year old to.
- Let's compare Katie Craine to Gabbie Pike. They're the same age, but while Gabbie can practically recite Shakespeare, all Katie can do is name her dolls and mispronounce "ghost" and "cat."
- I really like the Craine family. It would have been nice to see them more often!