Saturday, March 27, 2010

M# 24 Mary Anne and the Silent Witness


The BSC has a new cause: Mr. Reginald Fowler, a Stoneybrook developer, wants to bulldoze Miller's Park and put an office complex in its place. The club decides to write letters to the editor of the newspaper...and they're all published. Pretty soon, the fight between the club and Reginald Fowler is attracting all sorts of attention. Kristy, of course, wants to create a whole media campaign, but the other club members talk her down from that, and the decide to just stick with letters for the time being.

Meanwhile, the BSC gets a call from some new clients, the Martinez family. They live near Miller's Park, and their house is one that Reginald Fowler would need to buy in order to make his development plan go through. They've also just had a mysterious fire in their garage....coincidence? Anyway, Mary Anne is the first one to sit for Luke (age 8) and Amalia (age 3). She likes Mrs. Martinez, and Amalia couldn't be friendlier. Luke, on the other hand, is another story. He's not particularly outgoing, and doesn't seem to like Mary Anne very much. Even so, he won't let her out of his sight, and he's REALLY defensive about the fire. Then, when Mary Anne and the kids get the mail later, Luke gets something that he immediately tears up and throws in the trash can. As soon as she gets a chance, Mary Anne pulls the scraps out and tries to reconstruct the note, but she'd left some of the pieces behind. Something is definitely up at he Martinez house!

Things don't really change much at Mary Anne's next sitting job. Luke is still watchign her liek a hawk, and he still doesn't seem to want to make friends. HE even searches Mary Anne's backpack when she gets up for a minute to answer the phone. Mary Anne decides to ignore that, since nothing was taken, but it's pretty hard to ignore what happens later. Someone writes the words "don't tell" in the soot that remains on one of the windows, and Luke is clearly frightened. Mary Anne suggests a walk, but by the time that she and the kids get outside both the writing and the writer are gone. While the three of them are out, they run into none other than Cary Retlin and his two younger brothers! The Retlins and Martinezes are neighbors, and one of Cary's brothers is friends with Luke. Not long after the unexpected meet-up, the group notices a big black car driving up the street. Luke and Steig Retlin are so terrified by the appearance of the car that they both take off running through the woods. Mary Anne and Cary follow the boys, and Mary Anne sees that Cary has soot on his hands. That's pretty suspicious, but she's a lot more worried about Luke and Steig at that point. Soon, Steig reappears, but no Luke. Mary Anne hands Amalia off to Cary, asking him to watch her while she keeps searching. He agrees, and takes Amalia back to the Martinez place.

Once she's on her own, Mary Anne heads for the area of the woods near the old sawmill in Miller's Park. She's almost there when she hears glass breaking and someone running in her direction. She hides behind a tree, and as soon as it's safe, peeks down the path to see who it was. Mary Anne is pretty surprised to see a teenage boy talking with...Reginald Fowler. Fowler hands his a bunch of money, and the boy drops something before they head off in different directions. Once the coast is clear, Mary Anne goes to see what it was that the boy dropped. It's a brick with green paint on it, which Mary Anne picks up. Just then, the police appear. They shine a light on her and order her to freeze. Mary Anne knows the situation looks bad; she's been caught alone in the woods, holding a brick, near the site of some public vandalism. The police seem to believe her, but want to take her to the station for some questioning. First, though, they head back to the Martinez house to see if the kids are okay. They are; Luke had come back on his own about 20 minutes before Mary Anne got there with the police. Mrs. Martinez gets home before the police have a chance to take Mary Anne away, and she can't believe they'd even THINK Mary Anne would cause vandalism.

Down at the station, Mary Anne is relieved to see both her dad and Sgt. Johnson. Her name is cleared pretty quickly, but her experiences aren't the end of the weird happenings at the Martinez house. Kristy is the next one to sit for them, and while she's there, Luke answers the phone. The conversation doesn't last long, and Luke looks as scared as he did when he and Mary Anne saw the writing on the window. Kristy uses *69 (or whatever the BSC equivalent is) to try and figure out who called. It turns out that the call came from a pay phone in downtown Stoneybrook. Later, Kristy catches Luke, along with Benson and Steig Retlin, setting off bottle rockets in the backyard. She has no idea where they got the message, and all three boys end up getting big lectures. In fact, when Jessi arrives for her sitting job the next day, she learns that Luke and Steig aren't allowed to play with each other for a few days as punishment. She also finds a pack of tobacco in the backyard...and no one in the Martinez family smokes. They also see the same black car that scared Luke into running away, but this time, Steig identifies it as Fowler's car. Hmmm....

The club decides that they need to dig up some dirt on Fowler, so they head to the Stoneybrook Public Library for another fact-finding mission. They find quite a few articles on Fowler, but they're all pretty contradictory when it comes to his biographical information. The girls (and Logan) decide to head for the hospital next, to see if they can find his birth records. They don't find anything on a Reginald Fowler, but they DO find a record for a John and Samuel Wolfer...twin brothers. Mary Anne notices the similarity of last names, and doesn't think it's a coincidence. When she thought she saw Reginald Fowler in the woods, he was later proven to have been in Sn Fransisco at that point. If he had a brother, that would explain things nicely. Mary Anne tries to find phone listings for anyone with a name similar to Wolfer or Fowler, and she finally hits paydirt with a Samuel Wolf. She looks him up in a "Who's Who" directory, and it lists him as being born on January 2...the same day as the supposed Reginald Fowler. What's more, she discovers that they grew up in a little cabin in an area that's now part of Miller's Park.

Abby is the next club member to sit for Luke and Amalia, and she tries everything she can to get Luke to open up. She doesn't have any luck, but she does find a notebook owned by the kids' previous sitter, Allie. It's covered with hearts and the initials "BR.," and it's clear that this girl goes to Stoneybrook Day School. The girls decide that they need to do their own investigating into the fire at the Martinez house, so Mary Anne and Kristy join Stacey there the next day. They offer to help clean out the garage, which is really just an excuse for them to look around. They find a fire extinguisher, and they also notice that there's soot on the ceiling. That doesn't fit; the garage door was open when they firefighters got there, and if it had been open the whole time, there wouldn't have been any soot on the ceiling. Someone had to have opened the door after the fire started, but before anyone arrived to put it out.

The club is still trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle, from the fire to the Fowler/Wolfer/Wolf family to the vandalism at the sawmill. Mary Anne goes to a local hardware store to find out who might have purchased green paint in the color that was on the brick she was caught with. She finds out that the Robbins family are the only ones who've bought any lately. That's when things start to fall into place; Shannon knows of a girl at Stoneybrook Day named Allie Newbern, who happens to have a boyfriend named Beau Robbins. Kristy, Shannon, and Mary Anne all decide to take a little stroll to the Robbins place, and they find Beau there with Allie. Mary Anne comes right out and accuses Beau of everything, and he doesn't try to deny that he's been up to no good. He had come over one day to see Allie when she was baby-sitting for Luke and Amalia. It was raining, so he waited for her in the garage. He was smoking, and when he was done, he tossed his cigarette aside. That's how the fire started; when Beau and Allie couldn't put it out, they called the fire department. Allie felt so guilty that she quit her job sitting for the Martinez kids not long after that, and Beau was so worried about Luke telling what he knew that he threatened him. Reginald Fowler had seen Beau running away from the fire and figured that he was involved. He used that knowledge to get Beau to do some less than legal errands for him. They figure out that Beau must have been dealing with the other Fowler/Wolfer/whatever, since Reginald was known to be in California. The twin brother has one more errand for Beau to do that very night.

The girls, along with Sgt. Johnson, arrange to be waiting nearby when Beau arrives at the cabin near Miller's Park. They also arrange for Reginald Fowler to be there, too....they think it's time the brothers come face to face again. The plan works; Reginald is out to destroy Stoneybrook because he blames the town for this mother's death, and his brother was out to stop him by hiring Beau to vandalize things. Both men are taken to prison. Earlier, Luke had found a map, hand-drawn by Fowler detailing his plans to turn Stoneybrook into a completely modern place with no charm at all. There's a town meeting the next night to discuss what needs to be done with Miller's Park, and everyone finds this new piece of evidence pretty interesting. The park is named a historical landmark.

Rating: 2.5

Thoughts and Things

  • I always thought it was ridiculous that the BSC members found evidence in the Martinez's garage that the police missed. Aren't the supposed to be trained to look for clues and evidence and things???
  • What kind of a name is Steig??? I think he's a real guy, too...just like his brother. :) Not sure if there's an actual Benson Retlin out there, though.
  • Speaking of, when Abby first found that notebook with "BR" written all over it, I totally thought it would end up standing for Benson Retlin. :)
  • This is the first book that actually made me like Cary a little bit; he was so nice to Mary Anne when she was almost arrested.


  1. the part where Reginald wants to turn stoneybrook into a modern place with no charm sounds kind of cheesy.Very steropical.

  2. i have a blog called adventures with brooke