Claudia is taking summer school math again, and as a compromise, her parents are also letting her take photography. She's really into it; her dad (who was also, at one point, into photography) has even let her borrow his fancy camera. Claud is even the one who comes up with the BSC's latest "get Dawn back to Stoneybrook" project. The BSC members and some of their charges are going to put together a "Day in the Life of Stoneybrook" photo album, in imitation of the popular "A Day in the Life of America" book they've all seen (which sounds like the 24-7 series we have in real life). The day of photography turns out to be pretty fun; the kids are pretty creative, and Claudia is really inspired by some of the building facades in downtown Stoneybrook. The bank particularly intrigues her, and she shoots a ton of pictures of just that one building. That comes in handy later...
At the next BSC meeting, a special announcement comes over the radio. Apparently, some serious cash is missing from the bank, but there's no sign that a robbery took place at some point. Claudia wonders if (just maybe) she caught something in one or more of the pictures she took of the bank that weekend, but when she develops them, they don't show anything unusual. There's a woman with a baby carriage that appears in quite a few, and a man in a suit who Stacey thinks looks like a banker. He is; Claudia, Stacey, Becca, and Charlotte head down to the bank one afternoon for some detective work, and while Stacey is turning in some penny rolls, she sees the man talking with other bank employees. Later, during a BSC stakeout of the bank, Shannon finds out that this man in Mr. Zibreski, vice president of the bank. Snce the police now think that the robbery was an inside job, and that it probably happened while Claud and the kids were there, taking pictures of the bank, the BSC is suspicious. Claudia tries calling the tip line that the police have set up, but they think she's a prank caller and won't listen. So, the girls take some of their photos down to the police station. The officer at the front desk is just about to write them off when - TA DA! - Sergeant Johnson comes to their rescue. He looks over the pictures, but he agrees with the other officer; the pictures don't really show anything that could be used as evidence in court.
One day, not too long after, Claudia is working on developing some more pictures of the bank from the robbery day when someone opens the door to the darkroom. Claud can't see who it is, and when she runs out of the darkroom, no one's there. The pictures are ruined, and she's convinced that the culprit is Mr. Zibreski. She thinks he's onto them, and wants to foil their plans. Claud is also pretty disappointed by the loss of the pictures, until she remembers that Mary Anne also took some. Claudia develops those, and at first, she doesn't see anything suspicious. Then, she notices something: there's a light on in one of the offices in the bank, even though it was Sunday and the bank was closed. They go to see Sergeant Johnson again, and he admits that the police are suspicious of him, too, but don't have any proof.
When Claudia is helping the kids decide which pictures to put in Dawn's book, she notices a few pictures that she think contain another clue. They all show the same woman getting PILES of cash out of an ATM, and they think that maybe she rigged it to give her as much money as she wanted. Janine points out that this theory probably isn't likely; the largest bills found in ATMs are usually $20s, so even if all the bills the woman is pictured with WERE $20s, she'd only have $1,000, max. The BSC members are disappointed...until Claud gets another idea. She enlarges various parts of the different pictures, and asks the BSC to come over early for their meeting to check them out. Stacey notices that Mr. Zibreski, even though he has a fancy pocket watch, keeps checking the wristwatch he's wearing. Then, Jessi notices that the time on the fancy pocket watch never changes. Claudia thinks he might be hiding a key to a safe deposit box in the watch, and she's right. Sergeant Johnson is questioning Mr. Zibreski when the girls bring their new photos down to the station, and the BSC members listen as Zibreski makes a full confession. Mystery solved. Also, it was Janine who opened Claudia's darkroom door, not the criminal. She'd ruined Claud's pictures once before by doing that, and was too embarrassed to admit that she'd made the same mistake.
Thoughts and Things
- The rating for this one probably would have been lower if it hadn't been for all the photography talk. I like photography, so I was interested in that aspect of it, but not in anything else.
- I'm about 80% sure that this is the first time that Sergeant Johnson has helped the girls with one of their cases, but Claud says that she'd seen him around when they'd dealt with the police before. Ten points to anyone who can find a reference to him in a past mystery!
- Speaking of Sergeant Johnson, he should have been fired about 456345 times during the series. In this book alone, he lets the girls in on the fact that the police ARE investigating Zibreski, and then lets them into the interrogation room when he confesses. What police academy did he graduate from???
- Speaking again of Sergeant Johnson, I've decided to picture him as really hot. That will make the rest of the mysteries a little more bearable. ;)
- I feel like this particular summer in BSC land has lasted forever. It kind of has, considering it's covered the last 5 books including this one.