December 10, 2011

BSC Mystery #22, Stacey and the Haunted Masquerade: Will You Still Love Cary Retlin Tomorrow?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 12:46 pm by Jenn

Stacey actually looks kind of cool

Summary: SMS is holding a Halloween Masquerade on Mischief Night, the night before Halloween. It’s the first masquerade in 28 years because the last one held there ended with a stampede, and a teacher died of a heart attack. Stacey’s really excited about the dance, so she joins the planning committee, which is headed by a teacher named Mr. Rothman. Cokie and Grace are also on the committee, and Grace hates everything the others come up with, while Grace is at least brave enough to have her own opinion.

Someone has been pulling off pranks at school, and the pranks lead to vandalism against the dance decorations and posters, plus graffiti that reads, “Will you still love me tomorrow?” The BSC girls suspect that someone doesn’t want the dance to go forward. They really only have two suspects: Mr. Wetzler, a school board member who was very vocal about his anti-dance stance (say that five times fast), and a group of students called the Mischief Knights, who were responsible for the original pranks. For some reason, no one suspects new student Cary Retlin, though his attitude indicates that pranks would be right up his alley.

The BSC girls decide to look into the last masquerade and learn that a girl was somehow involved. They also discover that Mr. Wetzler and Mr. Rothman were both students at the time. Stacey talks to Mr. Wetzler, pretending to be writing about the budget for the school paper, and he tells her there was a girl involved somehow. More research, this time in the off-limits school basement, leads the girls to the name Elizabeth Connor. It turns out she lived in the Johanssens’ house, so Stacey and Mary Anne make sure they’re looking after kids there together, then search the house. The only thing interesting they find is a heart drawn in the cement that says LC + MR – Liz Connor + Michael Rothman.

The next time Stacey sees Mr. Rothman, she decides to throw her cards on the table and tells him she needs information about Liz. He tells her everything: He was popular and Liz wasn’t, and his friends paid him $10 to take her to the masquerade as a joke. He felt bad about it but didn’t want to compromise his popularity. The last dance of the evening was to “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” and afterward Liz found out what was really going on. She ran off, and moments later the fire alarm went off and the lights went out, causing the stampede. After that, Liz left school and no one heard from her again. Mr. Rothman thinks Liz could be back in Stoneybrook.

Fast-forward to the masquerade (which isn’t really a masquerade since everyone knows who everyone else is). In the bathroom, Stacey runs into a teacher who was dancing with Mr. Rothman and has had her cloak stolen. Stacey figures out that Liz took the cloak and is now wearing it while dancing with Mr. Rothman. She reveals herself, and…we cut to the BSC girls telling Shannon what happened. (LAME!) Though nothing really happened, as Mr. Rothman just took Liz out of the gym and I guess got her help. Apparently Liz had some mental problems that accelerated after the original masquerade, and she’s spent 28 years obsessing over what happened. And that’s pretty much how the book ends.

The B plots involve Grace telling people she’s coming to the dance with a guy no one thinks exists, but who actually does, and the kids the club sits for all being obsessed with Ghostbusters.

Thoughts: The Mischief Knights are kind of lame, but I’m mainly impressed a bunch of middle schoolers can spell “mischief.”

There’s a big deal made about this being the first Halloween masquerade at SMS in almost 30 years, but there were Halloween dances in Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery and Kristy’s Mystery Admirer. So is there some difference here between a masquerade and a regular dance? A masquerade usually involves a mask, but at least some of the students don’t wear them.

I think I had a little crush on Cary when I was younger. Good girls do like bad boys after all. And I’m with Kristy: He makes things interesting.

The structure of this plot doesn’t really work for me. No one knows who Liz is until the last third of the book, so there’s no way for the reader to figure out what’s going on. They should have made the culprit the son or daughter of the teacher who died at the original masquerade.

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