November 13, 2012
BSC Mystery #30, Kristy and the Mystery Train: Strangers On a Train
Summary: Derek Masters is back in Stoneybrook, but only briefly – he’s just finished a movie about a boy who witnesses a murder on a train, and he’s about to take a train from Boston to Charleston to help promote it. Mr. Masters, one of the producers, asks Kristy, Abby, and Stacey to come along to look after Derek, his brother Todd, David Michael, Linny Papadakis, Nicky Pike, Buddy Barrett, James Hobart, Derek’s friend Greg, and Todd’s friend Daniel. (Yes, Mr. Masters is crazy for letting all those kids come along.)
Since this is a mystery, there is, of course, some weirdness on the train. People get notes talking about secrets coming out, and it’s not clear if they’re part of the movie’s publicity. The ex-husband of one of the movie’s stars comes to the train station and pleads with her to work out their problems, then makes some threats. Someone puts a rubber hand in that same actress’ lunch. A smoke bomb is set off. There are a ton of people on the train who could all be suspects: the movies’ leads, the publicist, the only reporter allowed on board for the whole trip, and the screenwriter, Daniel’s father Ronald.
One night Kristy, Stacey, Todd, and Daniel are in the observation car when they hear two men fighting. It’s too dark to see who they are (or much of anything, really), but Kristy thinks she sees one man push the other off the train. When the possible crime is investigated, no one is missing from the train. The only clues (if you can call them that) the BSC girls find are a page from the script and a note the reporter was given telling her to be in the observation car at the time of the possible attack.
The BSC girls tell their charges what’s going on, and they all search through people’s rooms to see who’s missing a page from the script. (Totally legit babysitting activity, by the way.) All of the scripts are intact, but Derek later realizes that while the dialogue is correct, the names of the characters on the page aren’t the same as the names of the characters in the actual movie. Kristy realizes that the page is from an earlier draft, which would only be owned by Ronald, the screenwriter.
The lights go off and another smoke bomb is detonated, but Kristy manages to get to Stacey and Abby and fill them in. They confront Ronald, who confesses that he took the idea for the movie from a student who’s now blackmailing him. He was fighting with the student, Laurence Channing, in the observation car and thinks Channing is going to come after Daniel. Indeed, Channing tries, but Kristy protects Daniel, and Mr. Masters and Ronald subdue the crazy blackmailer. And no one even had to call Sgt. Johnson!
In the most boring B-plot ever, the other BSC girls babysit at the new/old country club and Jessi teaches Stephen to swim. See, told you it was boring.
Thoughts: This is one of the better BSC books, though there are too many suspects and red herrings. It’s a little like an Agatha Christie mystery for tweens.
Three days on a train with nine elementary-school-aged boys? I would tie myself to the tracks. (Though the kids are really well-behaved.)
The director’s name is Rock Harding. Um, what kind of movies does he direct, exactly?
Other ridiculously named characters: Jane Atlantic, Anne Arbour, Benjamin Athens, Elle San Carlos.
Channing’s plan, revealed after all the drama, is fairly awesome in a soap opera way: He was going to fake his death, frame Ronald for his murder, wait until he was convicted, then reemerge pretending he had amnesia. I would read that book.