January 29, 2012

BSC Mystery #23, Abby and the Secret Society: The A-maze-ing Racists

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 6:40 pm by Jenn

Men in tuxes worry me, too, Jessi

Summary: Stoneybrook used to be home to a country club, and a woman named Nikki Stanton-Cha wants to fix it up and reopen it. The original club was very elite and racist; Nikki’s father was a member, and she’s ashamed of the way the club treated people. As a child, she brought a Jewish friend to the club and was horrified by people’s reactions. Nikki is now married to a Korean man and wants to run a club open to everyone who wants to join.

Abby reads about Nikki needing teens to help fix the club up, so she gets the BSC girls to agree to help out. They learn about the club’s history, as well as about Mr. Armstrong, a grumpy old man who used to be Stoneybrook’s mayor and who was responsible for a lot of the racist attitudes. The girls also get a little worried because Nikki’s father is hanging around and they know he disapproves of her having married an Asian man. He’s so bigoted that he’s never met his grandson, Stephen.

Sgt. Johnson, the only cop in town who listens to teenagers, tells the BSC girls that his friend David, a reporter, was investigating some nastiness at the club years ago when he died in a car accident. There was some blackmailing going on in some secret society, and Sgt. Johnson thinks David was killed so he couldn’t spill what he knew. The only thing Sgt. Johnson knows about what David uncovered is a warning to watch his step. They also find a clue telling them to think about penguins, and they spend a day checking that out until they realize that Cary Retlin sent them on a “wild-penguin chase.”

Abby figures out that the clue refers to a corner of a carpet that pulls up to reveal another clue written in wine. It gives a year, and the girls figure out it means a certain vintage in the wine cellar. The bottle they find contains a golf tee that reads “OPEN WWII.” Thanks to a little spat with Alan, in which he sarcastically asks Abby if she wants a trophy for something, she checks out golf trophies from tournaments held during World War II. The only one from that period was won by Armstrong, and it contains two silver keys.

The girls are at a dead end, so they write Armstrong a letter telling him that David was on to him, giving him the clue about the trophy. They get Nikki to invite Armstrong to the club for a tour, then follow him as he finds the keys, since they think he’ll know what they open. He unknowingly leads them to a hedge maze they’ve never been allowed into. At the center of the maze is a bomb shelter, and as Armstrong starts to enter it, Sgt. Johnson tries to stop him. Armstrong grabs Stephen and threatens to hurt him. Nikki’s father pops up and saves his grandson, and Sgt. Johnson arrests Armstrong, who admits to tampering with David’s brakes, leading to his death.

Sgt. Johnson and the BSC girls head into the bomb shelter and find all of David’s notes on the blackmailings in the secret society. Not that it does much good, as, according to Sgt. Johnson, the statue of limitations is up on most of the crimes, and Armstrong is old so no one cares if he goes to jail or not. But at least Nikki’s father isn’t a racist after all, or something. And the club opens and is never mentioned again.

The child-related plot is about the BSC girls sitting for Stephen and trying to help him find friends. He thinks people don’t like him because he’s multiracial, but of course, it’s Stoneybrook, and other than the racists who hated Jessi’s family, everyone there loves everyone. Also, some kids open their own club but won’t let other kids in, so Stephen starts his own club, but his is so awesome that everyone wants to join, and whatever, it’s all a commentary on racism.

Thoughts: I just watched The Shining on New Year’s Eve, so the mentions of the hedge maze in this book kind of freaked me out.

Cary works at the club because he needs money. To take my 13-year-old self on a date, right?

Stacey plays Wiffle ball with Stephen, and the BSC girls know he needs friends, so why don’t they invite him to join the Krushers?

Trivia: Sgt. Johnson’s first name is Jim.

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1 Comment »

  1. Allie said,

    Weak! If you tamper with someone’s brakes and it results in a death, that can be charged as murder. There is no statute of limitations! The state can’t discharge the case just because the suspect is “old and no one cares.” Would it have killed the ghostwriter to do the tiniest bit of research?


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