There's a new bookstore in Stoneybrook called Poe and Co. It's going to specialize in mystery books, and Mary Anne is pretty excited to check it out. She's even more excited when the owner, Mr. Cates, calls the BSC and asks for a sitter to help him with his two kids while final preparations are being made in the store. Mary Anne gets the job. Tom (10) and Gillian (7) are nice enough kids, but Mary Anne can tell from the start that they're not happy to be in Stoneybrook. They seem especially unhappy about Cillia Spark, the bookstore designer who's helping their dad get things up and running (I just realized as I was typing how wrong that sentence sounds....). Mr. Cates pulls Mary Anne aside and tells her that the kids' mother left recently, and the kids are having a hard time dealing with it.
At the next BSC meeting, Mr. Cates calls again and asks if multiple BSC members could come and work in the store. There's a lot to be done, and they really need the extra help. Mary Anne, Mallory, Logan, and Kristy all go, and they find that the (still unopened) bookstore is bustling with visitors. First, there's Alex Gable, a high school student who's father owned the building that's being used for the store. It's known as a the Benson Dalton Gable house, and BDG was an ancestor of Alex. He was also a contemporary of Poe's, and a writer as well. Later, Mary Anne catches Alex wandering around the house, as if he's looking for something. Then, Professor Kingsolver, a professor at Stoneybrook University, stops by. She's a Poe nut, and she and Alex get into it over whether Poe or Gable was the better writer. At the end of the workday, Mary Anne and Logan volunteer to stay behind and wait for a delivery that Mr. Cates is expecting. They're alone in the store when they hear something: a beating heart, just like the one in the Poe story. They mention it to Mr. Cates when he comes back, but Mr. Cates brushes it off.
The Poe coincidences continue from there. The following week, Pluto (the Cates' black cat) is sealed up inside some drywall. Luckily, they get him out in time. It's that little event that makes Mary Anne get out the mystery notebook. Someone is causing things to happen, and the BSC is going to figure out who. They think it could be the kids, playing tricks on Ms. Spark in the hope of driving her away. They also think it could be either Alex Gable or Professor Kingsolver, given how passionate each of them is about their respective favorite authors. The final theory? A ghost. No one really knows where Benson Dalton Gable was buried; it's a distinct possibility that he never left his house...
More Poe stuff continues to be uncovered. Mary Anne finds the word "nevermore" carved into a shelf, and then some workmen find a stone slab in the basement with words from Poe carved into it. It looks an awful lot like a gravestone; could Benson Dalton Gable's grave been found after all? Then, everyone in the house gets a big surprise when a raven flies through the window and takes up residence. It seems pretty tame, so Mr. Cates puts it in a cage until its owner can be found. Mary Anne heads to the pet store to see who may have bought a raven lately, and she finds out that it was a woman. Then, Mary Anne, Mal, and Stacey decide to get a look at the "grave" in the basement, and while they're down there, they find a tape player. It contains a tape of a beating heart....which explains what Mary Anne and Logan heard when they were alone in the store. It's pretty clear that someone is playing tricks, so the club decides to figure out who. Mallory borrows her brothers' detective kit, and they lift a fingerprint off of the tape player. Then, Mary Anne makes some coffee and serves it to everyone, and then gets prints off the cups when they're done. The girls look over the prints at their next BSC meeting, and the print that matches the one on the tape player is none other than Mr. Cates. He and Ms. Spark (she was the one who bought the raven) had created the mystery to bring more publicity to the store. The only thing they WEREN'T responsible for, though, was sealing the cat in the wall. That was an accident.
Subplot: it rains a lot. Really.
Thoughts and Things
- I wanted to like this book. I really did. Instead, I just found it to be really long and dull.
- So...Poe supposedly got the inspiration for "The Raven" from some decorations in the Benson Dalton Gable House. Actually, it was the talking raven in Barnaby Rudge, by Charles Dickens. Let's get our facts straight, shall we? :)
- Only two more mysteries to go!
- I kind of like the redesigned mystery covers, although it's kind of silly that they waited until almost the end of the series to bring those out.