June 23, 2015
SVU Thriller, Love and Murder: I’ve Just Seen a Face
Summary: We haven’t had a Lila book in a little while, so here’s something to satisfy us. Well, not really. Nothing about it is satisfying. This book takes place in an alternate universe where Bruce is spending the semester in Japan. Also, Nick doesn’t seem to exist.
Lila has a hot new TA in her class about 20th century art. He’s Damon Price, and something about him seems familiar to Lila. The two of them feel an immediate connection, beyond the fact that they’re both hot. Lila tells Jessica, who was supposed to be in the class with her; she skipped to go tanning. Instead of being intrigued by this automatic connection Lila and Damon have, Jessica decides that she’ll steal Damon for herself. With friends like Jess, who needs archrivals?
Lila manages to track down Damon’s phone number, and she leaves him a message asking to meet up with him to discuss…research. Yes, research. That’s what the kids are calling it these days. Meanwhile, Damon doodles a picture of Lila, feeling like she’s familiar. He puts up a painting in his office of clouds that form a girl’s face. The face looks like Lila’s. That’s not creepy at all.
There’s a Theta meeting, as the sisters are trying to come up with an idea for a fundraiser. Lila suggests a masked ball. Everyone loves the idea and fawns over Lila. Jessica, jealous as always, hates when Lila makes her feel like she’s not a star. Maybe come up with your own ideas instead of being lazy in every aspect of your life? Just a suggestion.
Damon and Lila make a dinner date, and then there’s a whole thing about how Lila wants Damon to call, but she doesn’t want to call him because that would be too forward. When has Lila ever worried about being forward? Jess starts scheming to steal Damon from her. I’d like to point out that Jessica hasn’t even met Damon yet. This is so dumb. The lack of Nick is confusing.
Damon and Lila have their date, which Lila switches to a fancy restaurant at the last minute, using her money and name to get in. She offers to pay for dinner. And yet she won’t make a phone call? The two of them feel like they’ve known each other for years, and seem to know things about each other already. They go to Damon’s place, where he accidentally hits Lila in the head with a book and knocks her out. She seems fine, but then weird things start happening.
First there are dreams. Lila dreams about a woman named Flora who’s part of high society in the 1930s. She and her husband, Theodore Grey, seem happily married. Flora falls down the stairs, landing as Lila wakes up. She goes to Damon’s class, where Jessica decides to grace everyone with her presence for the first time in a week. She mentions Bruce, who Lila downplays. Damon chastises Jessica for her poor attendance, and she runs off.
Lila’s totally in love with Damon, though she’s not sure why he told her he didn’t have a phone when she saw one at his place. She’s quickly distracted from that when she recognizes a painting Damon shows the class as one from her Flora dream. She’s sure that she’s never seen it before. When she tells Damon, he shows her the cloud painting and tells her how he thinks the face in it looks like her. And the painter’s name? Theodore Grey. Dun dun DUN!
Jessica gets revenge on Lila by trying to call Bruce in Japan to tell him that Lila’s cheating on him with a TA. I wonder what Ned and Alice will say when they get that phone bill. Jessica can’t reach him, so she writes a letter. I guess no one in this book has email, even though it’s 1998 and lots of people had it then. Maybe Jessica doesn’t think an email will travel all the way to Japan.
Lila has another dream about Flora and Theodore. In this one, they throw a big costume party, even though Theodore admits to Flora that his family’s money is running out. He’s mad at her for talking to a reporter about it, though Flora denied it (because she didn’t know). Theodore is becoming a stereotypical frustrated artist, growing angrier because he can’t sell his paintings. They fight, and he throws a book at Flora’s head. Quality guy there, Flora.
When Lila wakes up, she gets a phone call but there’s no one on the other end. She heads to the library to read up on Theodore. Damon is doing the same, looking at Theodore’s paintings, which all feature the same face. One has a slash and red paint through the neck. Creepy. Lila learns that Damon looks just like Theodore, and that Theodore’s wife’s name was Flora.
At this point, I’d be so out. I’d drop the class and never talk to Damon again, because everything was fine before he showed up. But no, Lila goes to Damon’s and tells him about her dreams and Theodore and Flora. He thinks she’s losing it and offers her no sympathy, even though she’s really shaken up.
Lila’s next dream sees Flora finding Theo destroying his paintings. He slashes the throat of her portrait and adds red paint to it. Okay, Flora, time to get the heck out of there. Lila gets another phone call, hearing someone murmuring her name over and over. She thinks Damon has been calling her, playing a weird joke on her. Maybe Damon is trying to recreate Theodore’s life. In Lila’s next dream, Theodore claims not to remember destroying his artwork. He thinks the slashed portrait looks great, and he’ll put it in his next exhibit.
Lila goes back to the library, reading about the slashed portrait. Apparently it was a bit of foreshadowing – there was some big tragedy in Theodore’s life. After doing some more research, Lila finds Flora’s obituary, which says her body was found with neck wounds. Theodore was arrested for her murder, and witnesses say they heard a big argument between the couple. Oh, and Lila looks just like Flora.
Even though she just suspected that Damon was trying to recreate Theodore’s life, which means he could be plotting to kill her like Theodore killed Flora, Lila decides she needs to warn Damon. She now thinks that history is repeating itself. Damon still thinks she’s nuts. But as they’re fighting, he calls her Flora, so now who’s nuts? At least now Lila gets that Damon might not be a stable person to be around. Damon himself worries that he’s become a horrible person. You think?
Lila dreams of Theodore taking Flora to see his new exhibit. All of his art is pictures of her with slashes on her body. Everyone thinks they’re brilliant. What’s wrong with these people? Lila gets another phone call; this time she’s called Flora. She’s sure Damon’s making the calls because no one else knows about Flora. In another dream, Theodore beats up Flora, accusing her of stealing his ideas and his money.
Damon calls to let Lila know he’s going out of town for a few days. Minutes later, she gets another creepy call warning that with Damon gone, Lila’s helpless. He goes looking for her, instead of leaving town, and Lila agrees to talk to him. Lila, no! She thinks there’s something off about him; there isn’t life in his eyes like there usually is. He says the phone calls must be from a frat boy playing a joke. Lila reveals that she’s going to get a caller ID machine (smart girl). She notices a scar on his face that she hadn’t noticed before, and decides she doesn’t know enough about him to be with him.
Lila’s too freaked out to be alone, so she goes to Jessica’s room. The two of them make up and talk about all the weird things that have been going on. While they’re having a big sleepover, Jessica spots Damon lurking in the bushes outside the dorm. Okay, guys, time to call the police. At least Lila realizes that she wants to be with Bruce, not Damon.
Lila dreams of Theodore strangling Flora, though Flora notices that her husband’s hands aren’t soft like they usually are. When Lila tells Jessica about the dream, Jess wonders if someone other than Theodore killed Flora. Time for more library research! They read up on Flora’s cause of death, which wasn’t her neck wounds, but a heart attack.
Jessica suggests that Lila see a reincarnation therapist, who tells Lila that she’s dreaming about her past life – she’s a reincarnation of Flora, and Damon is a reincarnation of Theodore. I mean, of course. But karma will come through, and the suffering Flora underwent in her life will be avenged. Except that means Lila might kill Damon. Of course, again.
Damon’s waiting outside the building to be creepy with Lila some more. Jessica rescues her, then decides this is a good time to admit that she wrote Bruce to tell him about Damon. Lila’s furious and takes off on her own. While Jessica searches for her Jeep, Lila goes home and hears a message from Bruce telling her that he got Jessica’s letter but still loves Lila. Bruce is kind of great in the SVU-verse.
Damon ambushes Lila in her apartment and knocks her out. She dreams of Flora seeing two Theodores fighting. Jessica finally makes it to Lila’s, running into…Damon. He’s outside, not in the apartment. When Jess accuses him of all the creepiness, he insists it wasn’t him. The other, creepier Damon ties Lila up and puts knives in front of and behind her so she can’t move without getting stabbed. He’s full-on crazy now, calling her Flora and whining about everything the other Damon has gotten. Lila finally realizes that Damon has an identical twin.
Damon confirms this when he and Jessica get to the apartment. The twin is Dylan, and he wants Lila out of the picture. Jessica helps Lila while the brothers beat each other up. Eventually Jess gets sick of them, decides the one with the bad haircut is the bad twin, and knocks him out with a Cuisinart. He falls on one of the knives, accidentally killing himself. (The description is actually pretty graphic for a Sweet Valley book.) Lila starts having chest pains, which paralells Flora’s death from a heart attack, but it turns out she’s just having a panic attack.
Later, Damon explains that Dylan was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, after years of crazy behavior. He escaped from the institution where he was living and started to wreak havoc. So some of the times Lila saw Damon and he was being weird, that was actually Dylan. (Some of the times, it was Damon. He has some anger issues, it seems.) Guess who else had a twin? Theodore. Damon, Lila, and Jessica piece together that Theodore’s twin, Thomas, killed Flora. Dylan almost reenacted Flora’s fate on Lila, but instead was the one who wound up dead. That breaks the curse, or whatever, and Lila thinks Flora can now rest in peace.
Damon feels horrible for the times he treated Lila badly, and he doesn’t ever want to hurt her again. That won’t be a problem – Lila has decided they can’t be together. She wants to go back to Bruce and, I imagine, never speak of this again. Which she probably doesn’t. So this whole book was a waste of time. Awesome.
Thoughts: I haven’t seen it, but apparently this book is a rip-off of the movie Dead Again. Incidentally, Dead Again stars and was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who was also in The Gingerbread Man, which was referenced in the previous book. So maybe the ghostwriter is a Branagh fan and that’s who Nick is supposed to look like after all.
“I read The Rules. I know The Rules.” Lila, no!
Elizabeth has an ab roller. Liz, no!
At least a third of this book is just Lila wondering why Damon hasn’t called. (And don’t ask why she doesn’t just call him. Rules girls don’t do that.)
New career goal: become a reincarnation therapist named Astra.