Strange things are happening in Stoneybrook, and (as usual) the BSC is right at the center of it all. First, Abby and Kristy witness a burglary at the Seger's house. Unfortunately, the burglar witnesses them witnessing him, so the girls run next door to the Rodowskys to call the police. My boyfriend, Sgt. Johnson, and his partner are the ones who respond to the call, but is anything said about protecting the girls since they DID see a crime, and the criminal knows it? Of course not; this IS the Stoneybrook police, after all. Next, Mary Anne starts getting weird notes in her locker at school. They LOOK like they're from Logan, but the messages are not exactly the friendly ones he's usually known for. The very same day that the first note arrives, Mary Anne gets a call from a frantic Kristy. She's heard someone lurking outside her house, and she wants Mary Anne to keep her company on the phone until the police arrive. Then, someone breaks a window, and the line goes dead when Kristy goes to rescue Shannon from whoever is breaking in. Mary Anne is frantic, and calls 911. They tell her that the police are already there, and when Mary Anne hears from Kristy again later, she gets the whole story. Someone threw a rock in her window, and spray-painted "You're Next" across the front door. Again, that same night, Mary Anne notices someone watching her house...and has the same feeling of being watched when she's at the mall a few days later. The girls stop at Claudia's after they're done shopping, and what happens there is scarier than anything that's happened yet. Someone actually sets a fire in some trash cans outside the Kishi house
Not long after, the girls find both the fire at the Kishi's and the vandalism at the Brewer-Thomases in the local crime section of the newspaper. They all think it's a little odd, though, that the buglary at the Seger's hasn't been reported. They don't worry much about it, though, once the weird phone calls start coming in. The first happens at a BSC meeting: someone calls, there's silence, and then whoever's on the other end of the line says "You're Next" before hanging up. Stacey, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Kristy all get calls like that, or ones where the caller says nothing at all. Then, the calls just stop. This brings the club's thoughts back to the Seger burglary, so Kristy calls Sgt. Johnson to find out what's going on. He tells her that Mr. Seger told them that there WAS no crime, and that the broken window they'd seen was the result of a tree pruning accident. The girls know he's lying, but can't figure out why. They also think that whoever was robbing their house might be the one harrassing them.
Of course, the club decides to do some detective research on Mr. Seger. They head to the library, and find out that he's a member of the Stoneybrook Business Bureau. Abby also finds something else that more interesting...and horrifying. She's found a copy of a picture of the BSC in the trash, next to the copy machine. It's the picture that was in the paper after the BSC helped catch the dog-nappers way back in M#7. The club thinks that the burglar might have been using that picture to try and track the girls down and make his threatening phone calls. Next, the girls head to the Stoneybrook Business Bureau to get a list of member businesses. They claim it's for a school project, and leave with a copy of the current list, as well as the one for the previous year. Unfortunately, the list doesn't give any clues as to what Mr. Seger does for a living; his business is just listed as "Seger Associates."
More scary things start happening to the BSC. Claudia and Stacey both get "You're Next" calls, and someone ties a note saying the same thing to Tigger's collar. Then, Stacey is almost run down by a car which swerves to miss her at the last minute. She doesn't get the license number, but she does notice that the car is a red Mercedes, and has last year's Stoneybrook Business Bureau sticker on the bumper. Needless to say, the club is pretty excited to get away for a weekend at Shadow Lake. At least, Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, and Abby are. Too bad the mystery follows them up to the lake. First, someone throws a ski hat into the ski lift mechanism, trapping Stacey at the top. While she's stuck up there, a snow blower is turned on while Kristy is skiing, causing her to fall. Claudia almost heads down a closed trail, since the sign has mysteriously been buried in snow, but is pulled back to safety by Abby. The girls recover in the lodge and try to pass off their accidents as just that, accidents. When they get back to the lodge, though, they find the door wide open. Luckily, no one's inside....
Meanwhile, back in Stoneybrook, the Seger situation gets solved. Mary Anne is sitting at the Rodowskys when she witnesses another burglary. She calls the police, and it turns out that one of the culprits is Mr. Seger's son. He's in some serious financial trouble, and he and a friend have been selling things to try and pay back the money he owes. No charges are filed, and the family get some counseling. Later, the club has an emergency meeting at Shannon's to discuss the mystery. Noah Seger and his friend hadn't been bugging the BSC...so that part of the mystery is still unsolved. The girls (and Logan) turn back to the SBB lists to try and at least figure out who was in the car that tried to run Stacey over. The car only had the previous year's SBB sticker on the bumper, so they compare the lists to see who's missing from the current list. One of them is Karl Tate, the dog-napper, and he's been released from prison. They call his house and find out that he's out of town...which would explain why nothing scary has happened to the BSC in a few days. Mary Anne calls Shadow Lake to warn them, and gets ahold of Stacey. The phone goes dead before she can get the whole message out.
Back at the cabin, the phone lines AND the power are out. Stacey managed to hear "Karl Tate" before getting cut off from Mary Anne, but she has no idea what Mary Anne meant by that. The Brewer parents and the younger kids go into town to stock up on supplies, leaving the club members, Sam, and Charlie alone in the cabin. They hear something outside, but think it's the wind. When Sam and Stacey go out to get firewood, though, they discover that it was more than that. They find blood in the snow, which understandably freaks them out. Charlie investigates, and he finds feathers there, too, and figures out that a bird probably became breakfast for a fox. That makes the others feel a little better....until they come around to the front of the house and see Kristy's ski poles. They'd been left leaning up against a wall, and are now stuck in the snow on either side of the porch. Someone also broke them. Definitely not a fox...
In Stoneybrook, Shannon, Logan, and Mary Anne take Astrid for a walk after the meeting. They walk by the Tate house to take a look at it, but it doesn't look like anyone's home. No one, that is, but the cat. Astrid takes off after the cat....right through the pet door and into the house. Shannon, Logan, and Mary Anne all go in after her (the door was open), and end up locked in Karl Tate's old office. The phone in there has been disconnected, so there's really nothing they can do except wait. Logan and Mary Anne finally talk out the whole note situation (they'd both been getting them, and each thought the other was writing them), and they make some interesting discoveries. They find another copy of that newspaper photo of the BSC with a big black X drawn over it, and the phone number to the Brewer's Shadow Lake cabin. Just as the three club members really start to panic about what's happening to their friends, Mrs. Tate arrives home. The girls and Logan try to hide, but Astrid barks and gives them away. Mrs. Tate recognizes Mary Anne from the photo, and she starts crying and saying that she's sorry, and that "he" needed to be stopped. The club members think she means her husband, but she doesn't; she's talking about her son, Woodrow. He's been bent on revenge ever since the club sent his dad to prison. They call the police to see if they can get in touch with the Shadow Lake cops in time to warn the others...
Things are going from bad to worse for the Shadow Lake contingent. Stacey discovers that her insulin case is missing (she has a backup in her purse), and that someone had sliced open Claudia's pillow and poured red nail polish over it. Then, the chimney starts smoking; someone had stopped it up, and they won't be able to use the fireplace now. Everyone decides to head to the lodge for the night, and hope that the parents and little kids will meet them there. They're joined by Woodie Keenan, a neighbor of theirs, who'd been pretty friendly up until that time. Claudia, though, notices something odd about him: from the back, he looks like a young Karl Tate. The other club members think she's full of it.
The walk to the lodge is pretty uneventful, in spite of the blizzard that's going on. It's uneventful, that is, until Karl Tate lunges out of the woods at the group. Abby, thinking quicklly, grabs a chunk of ice and throws it at him. He falls, and before anyone can do anything else, a woman runs out of the woods with a gun, ordering them all to freeze. The girls had noticed her before, and thought she was kind of shady. Not so; she's a detective, and she'd been after Karl Tate for violating his parole. Everyone thinks the mystery is solved...until Woodie Keenan grabs Stacey and threatens to throw her into the freezing lake. Woodie Keenan is actually Woodrow Tate, and he blames them for everything that's happened to his family. Kristy distracts him by throwing her emergency flare at him, allowing Stacey to escape. Woodie stumbles, and falls backward into the lake. He's fine, though...as fine as anyone can be who's sent to jail! With that, the mystery is finally over.
Thoughts and Things
- Once again, the girls don't tell their parents ANYTHING. It's one thing not to clue them in about counterfeit money, baking sabotage, or dog nappers, but if people are lurking outside your house and making threatening phone calls, it's just plain stupid not to tell someone.
- I never really thought of Shadow Lake as being in a mountainous area. I always thought of it as being wooded, but kind of flat.
- The mystery notebook makes its first appearance here.
- When I have two books that were published in the same month to recap, I generally try and skim beforehand to see which one is supposed to come first. Normally, I do a pretty good job, but occasionally, I get it wrong. This was one of those times; Christmas hasn't happened yet, so I should have done this one before Mallory's Christmas Wish. I just didn't think they'd be going on a ski vacation before Christmas, which is why I assumed this one came second.
- Am I imagining things, or does Cary Retlin own up to writing those notes to Mary Anne and Logan later in the series?
- It was actually kind of nice to have some continuity between this book and the one about dogs. For once, seemingly random characters actually made another appearance.