Friday, April 9, 2010

SM#3 Baby-sitters' Fright Night


It's almost Halloween, and SMS is going on a weekend trip to Salem, Massachusetts. The only BSC members that go are Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, Abby, and Mallory. Everyone else stays home and baby-sits and it's actually pretty boring (they organize a Halloween parade with the kids), so we'll just stick the main action in Salem for this particular recap. :)

Right after the kids step off the bus in Salem, Mallory spots Martha Kempner, a mystery and magazine article writer. Of course, Mallory has to go over and geek out over Ms. Kempner, and she's surprised at how short the woman is, even with heels. Apparently, she's in town writing and article on the Witch's Eye, a large yellow diamond that's supposed to be cursed. Ms. Kempner even points out Mrs. Agatha Moorehouse, current owner of the diamond, and her caretaker. At dinner that night, Mallory is sort of spying on Ms. Kempner and Mrs. Moorehouse when a man named Harvey Hapgood approaches them and asks to buy the diamond. Mrs. Moorehouse, though, isn't selling. Mal also notices a man reading a newspaper who seems to be spying on them, and she almost wishes she'd brought the mystery notebook with her.

The next morning, Stacey and Mary Anne sign up for a tour that's going to the Trove House Museum, where the Witch's Eye is currently being displayed. They barely get in the door before the alarm goes off. The two girls get separated, and Stacey decides to invesigate to see what's happened. On a hunch, she heads for the room where the Witch's Eye is supposed to be, and sure enough, it's gone. There are no signs of tampering on the case, though, and the alarm didn't go off until a museum employee noticed it was missing and pulled it manually. Just then, Stacey notices a piece of paper on the ground. She picks it up and finds that it's a piece of stationery from their hotel (the Salem Gables) with a series of numbers written on it. Unfortunately, the investigators notice her, so she gives them the paper and leaves quickly.

Meanwhile, Mary Anne has found her way back to hotel. She's hiding in the bushes, trying to observe a conversation between Mrs. Moorehouse and her caregiver about the stolen Witch's Eye. She finds that she's sharing her hiding place with a disguise: sunglasses, a long black wig, and a custodian's jumpsuit. Abby arrives on the scene to tell Mary Anne about the robbery, even though Mary Anne had figured it out by listening to Mrs. Moorhouse, and they wonder if the thief might have used it as cover. They head inside the hotel to call the police, and while they're waiting, the desk clerk asks them to go to the gift shop to deliver a message to Ms. Kempner. While they're on that errand, Abby finds her perfect Salem souvenir: a small ceramic punpkin. It's cracked on the bottom, so she offers the salesperson $2 for it. She later names it Cornucopia. :)

Of course, the robbery is all the SMS kids can talk about, and of course, the BSC is on the case and busy coming up with suspects. Harvey Hapgood is one; after all, he wanted to buy the diamond. Mrs. Moorehouse is another; she might be trying to collect the insurance money, even though Mary Anne had overheard her say that there wasn't any. It would have been hard for her to commit a robbery on her own anyway, since she's in a wheelchair. There's also the mysterious newspaper reader, who they now know is named Sean Knowles, and (to Mallory's dismay) Martha Kempner. She IS awfully interested in the diamond, and at that point, the girls think she's just as likely as anyone to have stolen it (or be behind the theft). Mallory decides that they need the mystery notebook after all, so she calls Jessi and has her hand it off to the spouses of some of the teacher chaperones, who will be joining the group for the weekend.

Things are getting particularly mysterious for Abby. When the SMS kids are at the theater on the evening of the robbery, someone pushes her in the bathroom. Abby, being Abby, pushes back, and doesn't get a good look at her atacker. Next, she's grabbed from behind during the costume parade and her fanny pack is stolen. There wasn't much in it (just a few dollars the key card to her hotel room, but Abby's still upset. She's even MORE upset when she and Stacey get back to the hotel and find that their room has been completely trashed. Nothing was taken; no money, no jewelry, nothing. It's clear that someone knew where Abby was staying, and used the key to look for whatever it was they wanted. The most likely suspect? Harvey Hapgood. He's staying the room right next door....

Meanwhile, those numbers that Stacey found right after the robbery have been running through her head ever since. She finally figures out that part of the mystery when she notices a safe in the back of her closet. The numbers are probably a combination to another safe in another room at the hotel! The girls don't get a chance to test their theory right away, but when the power goes out in the middle of the storm, they take the opportunity. Since the doors lock electronically, anyone that left their room after the power went out would have left it unlocked. First, they try Harvey Hapgood's room, but it's locked. Then, before they can try anyone else's room, they realize they're being Sean Knowles. It's okay, though; he's an insurance investigator. They hadn't heard him approach because he was wearing sneakers, and that fact gets Mallory thinking. The morning that the Witch's Eye was stolen, she noticed that Ms. Kempner was wearing sneakers. Normally, she wears heels because of her height, so it struck Mallory as odd. Could she have been wearing those shoes to move quickly and quietly? The girls head to her room, and it's unlocked. They try Stacey's series of numbers, and sure enough, it's empty. No Witch's Eye in sight. They leave the room, head up another staircase, and find themselves in a wing of the hotel that looks like it's under construction. Abby spots a door, and darts through it before anyone else has a chance to follow her. She takes the matches with her, and when the other girls' candles go out, they need to find her in order to get them. Before they can, they hear her scream.

In the other room, Abby is being attacked by both Martha Kempner and Harvey Hapgood. They go for the pumpkin, which ends up falling to the ground and breaking open. To Abby's surprise, the Witch's Eye falls out. Luckily, the police and Sean Knowles all show up, and the criminals are taken into custody. Kristy, by the way, missed all this action. She'd found what she thought was a clue that led her back to the museum, where she was nearly scared to death by Alan Gray. He was pretty scared, too; Cary Retlin had lured both of them there as a prank, but they join forces and get him back.

Rating: 3.5

Thoughts and Things

  • Okay, Hodges REALLY must have something against Kristy; she's not even on this cover, and is the only BSC member who went to Salem that isn't. She wasn't in this scene in the book, but there were plenty of other scenes where all the girls appeared.
  • Cornucopia also should have appeared on the cover. :) I think he was my favorite character in the book!
  • Normally, I don't like Abby in books or chapters that she doesn't narrate, but in this one, she was enjoyable.
  • I don't think they were even trying anymore at this point in the series. Not only do we have Halloween in this book, but we have it in the next one, too. There's no mention of half the club being gone, either. I guess you could argue that the mysteries are supposed to take place in an alternate Stoneybrook or something, but mysteries reference things that happened in regular books and vice versa.

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