June 24, 2011
SVH Super Thriller, Murder on the Line: Jessica Wakefield, Eavesdropper Extraordinaire
Summary: It’s summer, and we all know what that means: The twins are interning at the Sweet Valley News. Seth, who they worked with the first time around, is still there, and there’s a new news editor named Bill, who Jessica thinks is hot. The phones are all screwed up, and Jessica quickly learns that she can listen in on other people’s conversations, so of course she spends a ton of time doing that instead of working. She also spends time fantasizing about a guy named Ben who works in the next building.
One of the conversations Jessica overhears on the phone is between people using coded language and names (Greenback, Rock). She suspects that Greenback is ordering someone’s murder, but Elizabeth things she’s letting her imagination get away from her. Another conversation has Greenback mentioning getting rid of a girl, and though Jessica thinks things are really getting serious, Elizabeth still thinks nothing’s going on. But then a teenaged girl’s body turns up, and Jessica thinks she was the girl Greenback wanted killed.
Jessica finally goes to the police, telling a detective named Jason about Greenback. He tells her he thinks her information may be helpful, but she shouldn’t share it with anyone else. (To her credit, she only tells her family.) Jessica starts getting hang-up calls at home and wonders if someone knows that she knows something dangerous. She takes some time out of worrying to go on a date with Ben – this is some alternate universe where Sam doesn’t exist – but he’s too boring for her tastes (he’d be better suited to Elizabeth).
Seth and Elizabeth investigate the dead girl, Tracy, to find out what she was up to before she died. They learn that she’s a runaway and was found with cocaine on her body. Jessica thinks that Greenback is part of a drug ring that Tracy must have been involved in. Elizabeth sees a picture of Tracy and thinks she’s seen her before, but she can’t remember where. Bill assigns Jessica to take over for the receptionist, who’s just quit, then takes away her office phone so she can’t waste time anymore. Jessica has the (amazingly, for her) smart idea to dial into her extension and tape Greenback’s conversations. This is how she learns that a) there’s an undercover cop around somewhere and b) there’s a dirty cop at the SVPD.
Jessica worries that Jason is the dirty cop, so she decides not to tell him about Greenback’s recent conversations. She’s also suspicious of Seth, who seems to have a lot of money for a journalist. She also recognizes the sound of his telex machine as something she heard in the background of Greenback’s calls, so she thinks Seth is Greenback. Meanwhile, Elizabeth meets with a guy who saw Tracy a few times before her death, and he gives her a sketch of a guy he saw her talking to. Jessica thinks the guy is Seth.
Elizabeth then remembers that she saw Tracy at the building where the newspaper offices are located. The twins sneak a peek at the visitors’ log and see that she signed in for just ten minutes with the intention of talking to Seth. They go to Seth’s office that night to look for clues, and Bill catches them, though they’re able to cover for themselves. He gives Jessica the cassette with her recordings of Greenback’s calls, saying he mistook it for one of his. The twins head home, but someone follows them.
Jessica decides to tell Bill what she’s found out about Seth and Greenback. He agrees that Seth is a bad guy and tells her the two of them will go to the police that night. Jessica realizes that Bill must be the undercover cop. Elizabeth, however, thinks Seth deserves the benefit of the doubt, so she tells him what she and Jess have found out. He tells her he never talked to Tracy the day she came to see him, though he was supposed to meet with a girl who wanted to talk to him. Seth tells Liz that they’ll meet up again that night (what’s with these girls going off alone with adult men?). On her way home, Elizabeth runs into the former receptionist, who tells her she didn’t quit, Bill fired her.
Jessica meets up with Bill and soon realizes that something weird is going on with him. That would be because he’s on coke. Jessica tries to run off, but he grabs her and drags her to the roof of the building. Seth shows Elizabeth a bunch of articles about murders and drug rings in other cities, all places where Bill has lived. He thinks Bill is Greenback. Elizabeth calls the cops, but the officer she talks to isn’t convinced that Jessica is actually in danger. It turns out he’s Detective Jason.
Seth and Elizabeth run off to save Jessica themselves and encounter Ben, who tells them Jessica and Bill are on the roof. Oh, and he’s the undercover cop. Bill puts coke in Jessica’s pocket, planning to push her over the edge and make it look like she killed herself. Ben saves her, and Bill winds up falling off the roof. So, to summarize: Bill was a drug lord, Jason was a rat, Ben was a cop, and Seth has a lot of money because he got an advance on some books. Jessica suggests he write about her, and he tells her he’ll call the book Jessica Wakefield, Eavesdropper Extraordinaire. Well, at least she’s good at something.
Thoughts: This book was a little boring, but the mystery wasn’t too bad. I liked that there were a number of suspects, so it wasn’t completely obvious who was bad and who wasn’t.
This better be the last freaking time I read about the Sweet Valley News.
Any reporter who gives Jessica something to proofread is insane.
I appreciate the fact that Jessica passes out when she sees Tracy’s body. There are so many books, movies, and TV shows where people see a corpse and just gasp and stare. Jessica’s reaction is more realistic.
Elizabeth’s sympathy for Tracy: “That poor, stupid girl.” How lovely.
Why do they keep bringing Steven’s friend Adam back? He never does anything. Heck, why do they keep bringing STEVEN back?
Jessica wonders how Seth can afford a new car and condo on a reporter’s salary, but she knows he writes books. Does she really not see a connection there?
Lila: “You’ve been acting very weird ever since that day we went to Castle Cove and saw the dead body.” Yeah, Lila, it’s called having human emotions. You should try it sometime.
So Bill does cocaine, but he’s also able to head up a drug ring and work as a news editor. He must be the highest-functioning drug addict ever. (Heh. “Highest.”)