June 12, 2013

BSC Mystery #34, Mary Anne and the Haunted Bookstore: Poe-blicity Stunts

Posted in books tagged , at 8:18 pm by Jenn

Oh, come on, Mary Anne doesn't dress like this

Oh, come on, Mary Anne doesn’t dress like this

Summary: Stoneybrook, that hotbed of new businesses, is about to welcome a new bookstore. Mary Anne is suddenly a big fan of reading, and she winds up helping to get the place ready. It’s run by a man named Mr. Cates and a woman named Ms. Spark. Mr. Cates has two kids, Tom and Gillian, so the BSC girls suddenly have some new charges. They take turns helping out at the store and watching the kids, who are having a lot of trouble adjusting to the move and their parents’ separation.

The bookstore, Poe and Co., is mystery-centric, and is soon the sight of its own mystery. Mary Anne hears what sounds like a beating heart (a la The Tell-Tale Heart), finds the store’s cat trapped behind a wall (a la The Black Cat), and encounters a raven (a la…well, you know). Then she thinks she sees a ghost. It doesn’t help that Mary Anne’s doing a school project about Edgar Allan Poe, or that a local professor who’s a Poe expert has been hanging around.

There’s also another mystery surrounding the bookstore itself. It used to be the home of a writer named Benson Dalton Gable (not a real person), who may have had a rivalry with Poe. Gable disappeared, may be buried in his own basement – and may have been killed by Poe. One of Gable’s ancestors, a high schooler named Alex, is also helping out at the store, and Mary Anne wonders if he’s doing all the weird stuff to drive all the Poe lovers away.

Mary Anne starts investigating, earning herself the nickname Dupin, after an investigator in some of Poe’s stories. She thinks the raven might be a pet, so she stops by a pet store to find out if anyone’s bought one recently. She learns that one was purchased by a woman calling herself Lenore.

Then Mary Anne, Stacey, and Mallory find a tape player in the bookstore’s basement, plus a tape that plays the sound of a heartbeat. Mallory uses the triplets’ detective kit to get fingerprints off of the tape and player, and the girls use coffee mugs to get fingerprints from all their suspects. There are two sets that match – Mr. Cates’ and Ms. Sparks’.

More reading for her school project introduces Mary Anne to the idea that the press and publicity can inflate a story. She figures out that Mr. Cates and Ms. Sparks planned all the creepy stuff to drum up interest in the store. Mary Anne arranges a sting operation using the heartbeat tape and catches them in the basement. They admit that they did all the weird stuff for publicity. It works, as the bookstore is a huge hit.

In the B-plot, it’s been raining a lot in Stoneybrook, and everyone’s going stir crazy. The BSC girls arrange a big sunny-day festival where their charges all do activities like making sandcastles and mud pies. There’s also stuff about Tom and Gillian making friends and growing to not hate Stoneybrook so much.

Thoughts: Mary Anne is very smart in this book. I think she’s such a good detective because she’s so observant.

Trivia: Star Wars is one of Stacey’s favorite movies, which doesn’t really fit with what we know about her.

“Am I getting old or is it very noisy in here?” I love you, Mrs. Pike. You’re not old. Especially since it’s entirely likely that you’re only in your 30s. Which means I’m now closer in age to the BSC girls’ parents than I am to the girls themselves. I’m going to go cry now.

Why is it that the girls keep thinking they’ve encountered ghosts, they find out what’s really going on, and the next time something happens, they think there’s a ghost again? At some point, wouldn’t they stop suspecting ghosts?

1 Comment »

  1. kate said,

    “I love you, Mrs. Pike. You’re not old. Especially since it’s entirely likely that you’re only in your 30s. Which means I’m now closer in age to the BSC girls’ parents than I am to the girls themselves. I’m going to go cry now.”

    This was one crazy terrifying paragraph. I’m going to go cry now too.

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