September 4, 2013

BSC Mystery #36, Kristy and the Cat Burglar: One Last Case

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:10 pm by Jenn

Who picked these colors? What drugs was that person on?

Who picked these colors? What drugs was that person on?

Summary: Kristy’s out for a walk with her younger siblings when they run into Cary, who’s bird-watching. (What? 13-year-old boys don’t do that? You liar!) They check out a nearby mansion, and they’re near it when they hear what sounds like a gunshot. Sgt. Johnson is on the case and tells the kids that there may have been a break-in. The security guard on duty was called away because his wife was taken to the hospital, and while he was gone, someone broke in and stole some diamonds. Sgt. Johnson was tipped off beforehand that there was going to be a crime.

Sgt. Johnson is joined by a couple of other officers, one of whom is a jerk because he wants to be the chief but Sgt. Johnson is the more likely candidate. The cops investigate, and but it’s Kristy who finds a drawing of a cat on the mailbox, which indicates that the robber was the uncreatively named Cat Burglar who’s been committing break-ins on the East Coast.

The BSC girls start their own investigation and come across the marker used to draw the cat, plus a bullet casing. They also meet the mansion’s owner, whose name is – and I am totally telling the truth here – Reinhardt Golem. He thinks they’re awesome for being little detectives and encourages them to solve the case. He suggests that a business rival, Ben Birch, may have robbed him for revenge.

Things aren’t looking so great for Sgt. Johnson, though. He investigated Golem in the past, after another burglary, and the marker found at the crime scene belonged to him. The call that got the security guard away from his post was about a fake emergency, and Sgt. Johnson was on the scene before anyone else, so he could have easily been there without being spotted. Plus, there are diamonds in his desk, so that’s probably not good. Sgt. Johnson gets arrested, and though the BSC girls find it strange that someone they know as a good guy would commit a crime, they have to admit that the evidence against him is pretty strong. Sgt. Johnson, however, swears that he was framed, and that the marker and bullet casing were planted at the crime scene after it was searched.

Kristy still thinks something’s fishy, so the girls (and Cary, who at this point is practically an associate member of the club) dig a little deeper and find an indication that the cop who hates Sgt. Johnson may have framed him. Kristy, Cary, Abby and Mary Anne head to Golem’s house to give him the news while the other girls go to a restaurant where he eats whenever he’s in town. At Golem’s, Kristy spots a lamp that was supposedly stolen during a previous burglary at one of Golem’s houses, and she realizes that he’s been pretending to be robbed so he can collect the insurance money.

Golem figures out that Kristy figured it out and decides to lock the kids in his house while he jets off to Paris. But the club members who went to the restaurant learned that Golem was there when he was supposedly in Paris, which means he was in town during the burglary. They send the police over to Golem’s, and the almost-kidnapped four are rescued.

Cary goes to a BSC meeting, where the girls lament being snowed by Golem, who really didn’t seem suspicious, which made this a good twist. Also, it turns out Ben Birch was one of his aliases, another good twist. The girls decide that they need to stop playing detective, at least for now, since this mystery almost put them in danger. And that’s why this is the last mystery.

In the B-plot, Charlotte goes all Harriet the Spy on everyone and almost loses some friends.

Thoughts: I can’t believe we don’t get any explanation of the name Reinhardt Golem.

The police don’t put up crime-scene tape. Way to go, guys.

“There’s just something about [Cary] that makes you think he’s up to no good. For example, the fact that he’s often up to no good.” Heh.

Golem seems like a smart criminal until you realize he was dumb enough to display “stolen” goods in his house. And that even if he’d gotten out of the house before the police arrived, he told Kristy and the others where he was going, so it’s a pretty good bet that the police would have tracked him down.

July 24, 2013

BSC Mystery #35, Abby and the Notorious Neighbor: Stoneybrook’s Most Wanted

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:17 pm by Jenn

I don't think you need binoculars if he's standing that close

I don’t think you need binoculars if he’s standing that close

Summary: Abby gets bronchitis and has to stay home from school for a few days. She watches a TV show called Mystery Trackers (think America’s Most Wanted) and realizes that one of the profiled criminals looks like her neighbor, Mr. Finch. (Mr. F!) The guy on the show is wanted for embezzlement, and he ditched his family in Iowa and went on the run with his wife’s life savings.

Abby’s so convinced that Mr. Finch is the guy from the show that she starts spying on him with binoculars. She gets a little too Harriet the Spy for everyone’s tastes, and the other BSC girls tell her she’s crazy. But there’s so much evidence! Mr. Finch receives mail from Iowa, he has kids’ drawings in his house despite not having children, and Abby sees him burning something in his house. She tries to convince Sgt. Johnson that something’s going on, but Johnson points out that Mr. Finch hasn’t actually done anything illegal.

Kristy starts drinking the Kool-Aid, and Abby gets her to help snoop while Mr. Finch is out of the house. Kristy finds out that the kids’ drawings are signed by kids with the same names as the embezzlers’ children. Also, the thing he was burning was a photo of said kids. Sgt. Johnson has realized that Abby is on to something, so he gets in touch with the police in Iowa who’ve been looking for Mr. Finch.

In a complete anticlimax, Abby and Kristy see Mr. Finch putting a bunch of stuff in his car as if he’s planning to flee. They call the police again, and this time they actually come. Mr. Finch gets arrested and Abby’s snooping habit is rewarded.

B-plot: The kids in Stoneybrook make go-karts. The Kormans build the best one. Try to contain your excitement.

Thoughts: I don’t know if I screwed up the order or the series did, but this book should have come before Mary Anne and the Playground Fight. Oh, well.

I don’t dislike Anna, but she’s the most one-dimensional character in the BSC-verse. Stop talking about music already!

For the first time, the BSC girls use the Internet to try to get information.

Maybe Abby and Kristy’s signal while Kristy’s snooping shouldn’t be a harmonica when they’re depending on a player who has asthma?

So you see, kids, spying is okay as long as the person you’re spying on is bad.

August 26, 2012

BSC Mystery #28, Abby and the Mystery Baby: Teen Not-Mom

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:12 pm by Jenn

I want Abby’s jacket. (Okay, and the baby)

Summary: Someone leaves a baby on the Stevensons’ porch, which is a much better idea than leaving one on the Thomas/Brewers’ porch, because that baby would never get any attention. Abby, Anna, and their mom call the BSC’s favorite police officer, Sgt. Johnson, who agrees to let them look after the baby until his parents can be found. Since babies are adorable and totally not hard at all to take care of, Abby turns into a little teen mom, spending all her free time with the kid, who they call Eli. The girls are holding a writing month (their own little NaNoWriMo, I guess), and a bunch of the kids write about the baby.

On the mystery front, there isn’t much to go on. Shannon’s sister Maria’s story about Eli mentions a green car she saw around the time he was left, but no one follows up on that. In fact, it seems like the police aren’t doing much at all in the way of looking for clues. Mallory and Jessi are taking a writing class, and when one of their classmates writes a story about a woman giving up her baby, they get suspicious of her. The nanny the Stevensons hire to watch Eli also acts a little fishy. And Mrs. Stevenson seems to be hiding something.

While Mrs. Stevenson is out one day, having suddenly taken off to tend to something, Abby goes through her office looking for whatever she might be keeping from her daughters. She finds a name, Miriam, written on a Post-It and remembers that her mother has a sister named Miriam who’s estranged from the family. Abby and Anna look at some old pictures and find one of Miriam as a child, with the blanket Eli had over him when he was left on the porch.

Abby discovers that her mother went to a hospital in New York, and she figures out that she must have gone to visit Miriam. Rather than just be patient and wait for Mrs. Stevenson to come back and explain everything, Abby decides to follow her to New York. There, she learns that Miriam was involved with a guy her parents didn’t like, and who left soon after she had his baby, Eli (whose real name is Daniel). So the baby wasn’t just some random kid left with a random family: He’s Abby’s cousin.

Mrs. Stevenson had always complained that Miriam relied on her too much, so Miriam didn’t tell her she had a baby, no baby daddy, no job, and poor health. Instead, she left the baby on the porch, then wound up in the hospital in a diabetic coma. Mrs. Stevenson figured out that the baby was Miriam’s (thanks to the blanket) and told the police, which is why they didn’t investigate and they agreed to let the Stevensons look after Daniel. But Mrs. Stevenson didn’t tell her daughters the truth about the baby because she didn’t want them to have to lie to their grandparents, who didn’t know they had a grandson. (I know it’s dumb. Just go with it.) So Miriam’s better now, and Abby gets to keep Eli in her life since he’s her cousin. I don’t remember him ever being mentioned again, though.

Thoughts: This plot may be the most ridiculously contrived of all the BSC books. Including Baby-sitters’ Island Adventure. The problem is that the ghostwriter really bends over backwards to make it clear that Miriam isn’t a bad person. She didn’t really abandon her baby! She was sick! She didn’t tell her family she had a baby or that the baby’s father (who I’m 99 percent sure wasn’t her husband – SCANDAL!) had left because she didn’t want to burden them! She can’t be a villain because she doesn’t smoke and she doesn’t have a mustache or a pitbull!

Abby’s grandparents could not be more stereotypically Jewish if they were playing the klezmer and urging people to eat more rugelach.

Mallory and Jessi think that since the woman from their writing class doesn’t do anything baby-related, she’s acting like she gave up a baby. Girls, please don’t ever become detectives. You suck at it.

Kristy, re: the nanny: “Even though she doesn’t have her own car, I’ll bet anything she knows someone with a green one.” I’ll bet everyone knows someone with a green car, Kristy. Please stop talking.

It cracks me up that Anna tries to talk Abby out of going to New York, but when Abby says she’s going no matter what, Anna offers to go with her. Because…you’ll get in less trouble that way?

March 5, 2012

BSC Mystery #24, Mary Anne and the Silent Witness: He Didn’t Start the Fire

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:19 pm by Jenn

Mary Anne, you can't wear a fall outfit in April. Who do you think you are, Claudia?

Summary: The club starts sitting for a new family, the Martinezes, whose previous sitter quit unexpectedly. The kids are mostly great, but the boy, Luke, who’s eight, acts like he doesn’t trust his sitters. That may or may not be connected to the recent fire that took place at the house. The BSC girls suspect that the fire may have something to do with a developer named Reginald Fowler who wants to tear down some houses to build an office complex. The Martinezes won’t budge, so Fowler may have set the fire to scare them.

Luke seems to know something, but he’s not talking. One day when Mary Anne’s at the house, someone writes “don’t tell” on a window, which freaks Luke out. He’s also keeping some secret with his best friend, Steig, who happens to be Cary Retlin’s little brother.

Mary Anne goes looking for Luke in the woods while she’s sitting one day, and instead sees a teenage boy with a brick with green paint on it. He’s talking to Fowler, but Mary Anne doesn’t hear much of the conversation. A cop sees her when she picks up the brick, and Mary Anne is taken to the police station for vandalism. The only reason this plot point is important is that it allows her to learn from the police that Fowler isn’t even in Stoneybrook.

Time for reasearch – to the library! The BSC girls discover that Fowler was born the same day as twins named Samuel and John Wolfer, and decide that he’s actually one of them (since Wolfer is an anagram of Fowler). Him being a twin would explain why Mary Anne saw him in Stoneybrook while the police said he was away. They think Fowler started the fire at the Martinezes’ house, believes Luke knows it was him, and is threatening Luke to keep him quiet about it.

In their attempts to find out the truth, the girls get in touch with Allie, the Martinezes’ former babysitter. She’s with her boyfriend, Beau, when they find her, and Mary Anne recognizes him as the boy she saw talking to Fowler. The two teens come clean: Beau accidentally set the fire at the house with a cigarette, and Allie kept quiet to protect him, then quit because she felt guilty. But the two mysteries are connected: Fowler was blackmailing Beau, making him commit vandalism to threaten people so they’d sell their houses. Beau was also the person threatening Luke to keep quiet.

Beau feels bad, so he agrees to help the BSC girls with a sting operation. They send him to meet Fowler and arrange for his twin to show up. The truth comes out and the ever-helpful Sgt. Johnson hears it all. The final nail in Fowler’s coffin is Luke’s other secret: He found a map of Fowler’s plans for the town, which shows more industrialization than he claimed he wanted. This sinks Fowler’s plans and makes Luke and the BSC girls heroes. More Luke, really, but it’s not his series, is it?

Thoughts: Fowler and Beau are both stupid villains. Luke isn’t actually threatened with anything. I mean, if you’re going to scare a kid, you have to tell him you’ll get him in trouble with his parents or hurt them or something. Just saying “don’t tell” won’t accomplish anything.

And while I appreciate that the twist in the story is that most of the plot is a red herring, all the town-development stuff is boring.

Cary has two brothers, Steig and Benson. Okay, two things: 1) Steig? I didn’t think there were any Americans named Steig. 2) Benson Retlin? Do his parents hate him?

How has Kristy not run Allie out of town?

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.

December 31, 2011

BSC Super Mystery #2, Baby-sitters Beware: Ice Ice Baby-sitters

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:05 pm by Jenn

This never happened, but whatever

Summary: Spooky stuff is happening to the BSC girls. First, Kristy and Abby see someone apparently breaking into the house next to the Rodowskys’. The police (including Sgt. Johnson) are called in, but the house’s owner doesn’t think anything was stolen. Then some of the girls get notes and phone calls saying, “You’re next.” Mary Anne sees a possible stalker outside her house, Kristy gets a rock through her window, someone starts a fire in the trash cans outside Claudia’s house, and Stacey almost gets run down by a car.

The girls are pretty sure this isn’t just some prank Cokie’s playing, but telling an adult or calling the police again would be foolish, so of course they don’t do that. At the library, Abby finds a copy of the article about the girls thwarting the pet-napping ring in the trash, and the girls see that the photo that ran with the article is of Claudia, Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Dawn. With the exception of Dawn, these are the only girls who have gotten threats.

There’s really only one lead: Stacey remembers seeing a sticker on the bumper of the car that almost ran her down. The girls figure out that it’s from the Stoneybrook Business Bureau, but from the previous year, not the current one. They get a list of members of the bureau for both years but don’t get a chance to do much with it. They decide to keep an eye on the house where the possible break-in took place.

Meanwhile, Kristy’s family is taking a weekend ski trip at Shadow Lake, and she brings Claudia, Stacey, and Abby along. They think they’re leaving all the madness behind in Stoneybrook, but they’re wrong. Claudia accidentally winds up on a closed trail (the sign stating it’s closed is hidden), and she and Abby almost get stranded there. Stacey gets stuck on a ski lift. Kristy is almost flattened by a snowblower. All possible accidents, but the girls are suspicious.

Mary Anne is sitting for the Rodowskys when she sees a second break-in at the house next door, this one for real. She calls the police (and Logan), and the story comes out that the son of the house’s owner was stealing stuff to sell. The guy has no connection to the BSC girls’ troubles and even says he wouldn’t mess with kids. So it’s a red herring, but Mary Anne still solves a mystery.

The BSC members still in Stoneybrook gather for a weekend meeting and finally get around to looking at the list of Business Bureau members. Jessi realizes that one of the people who was a member the previous year but not currently is Karl Tate, the head of the dog-napping ring. A call to Sgt. Johnson lets the girls know that Tate is now out of jail. Mary Anne calls the girls at Shadow Lake and tells Stacey that Karl Tate is free, but there’s a blizzard coming, and the phone goes out before Stacey can hear more than his name.

Watson, Mrs. Brewer, and the little kids head into town for supplies while Kristy, Stacey, Claudia, Abby, Sam, and Charlie stay back to ride out the blizzard. A neighbor, Woodie, encourages them to go to the main lodge, but the teens decide to stay put. That is, until their chimney gets blocked and the cabin fills with smoke, forcing them out. They’re already on edge, what with the weirdness going on, and the fact that Stacey has spotted a woman they’ve seen before, Kris, lurking around with a gun. They decide to tell Sam and Charlie what’s going on once they all get to the main lodge with Woodie.

Back in Stoneybrook, Mary Anne, Logan, and Shannon take Shannon’s dog Astrid for a walk. Astrid chases a cat into Tate’s house, so the teens follow her inside to get her. They end up accidentally locking themselves in Tate’s study, where they find the photo from the article, this time with a big X through it. Then Mrs. Tate comes home and tells the teens that he needs to be stopped.

As the girls, Sam, Charlie, and Woodie head to the main lodge, Karl Tate appears and Abby knocks him out with a big chunk of ice. (Nice.) Next, Kris arrives, and the girls learn that she’s an FBI agent tailing him for violating the terms of his parole. (Just go with it.) Kris takes Tate away, and the others continue their trek to the main lodge. Suddenly, Woodie grabs Stacey and threatens to throw her in the freezing lake. He’s Tate’s son, and he’s basically been driven crazy by what a bunch of teenagers did to his father. Kristy thinks fast, throwing a flare at him, and he falls into the lake.

In the post-madness wrap-up, the girls learn that Tate came to stop Woodie, not to hurt them. And Kristy actually gets in some trouble for not telling her parents what was going on. But I doubt anyone will learn a lesson there.

The subplots, both boring and not (mostly boring):

  • Claudia thinks Abby is full of herself, since she keeps talking about what a good skier she is. Everyone else knows that Abby’s just a jokester and doesn’t really think she’s better than anyone. Claudia’s cold to Abby until their experience on the closed trail, and after that, they’re fine.
  • Mallory’s parents are putting in insulation at home, so she and Jessi have to skip the ski trip to watch her siblings. Mal is really ticked about this and doesn’t hide it well. She mopes around until Jessi tells her to cut it out. Mallory does occupy herself by putting together the club’s mystery notebook.
  • Mary Anne is mad at Logan because she’s been getting notes in his handwriting telling her not to cry. Logan’s also acting weird, which she thinks is evidence of his guilt. It turns out he’s also getting notes, seemingly in her handwriting, accusing him of lying. They work things out but never figure out who sent the notes. They figure it was probably Cokie.
  • Kristy is worried about Watson, thinking he’s doing too much since his heart attack. She keeps trying to do things for him so he’ll take it easy, finally telling him straight out that she’s worried. He assures her that his doctor said he’s doing really well and can even start exercising regularly. Kristy admits that she doesn’t want Watson to leave like her father did. It’s actually very sweet.
  • Kristy tells Stacey that Sam and his girlfriend have broken up, so Stacey’s worried that he’ll pursue her even though she’s dating Robert. Sam tells her that he thinks of her as a close friend now, though he doesn’t mind keeping his flirting skills sharp with her.

Thoughts: With the way she eats, I can’t believe Claudia still has Halloween candy in December.

When Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne smell smoke in Claudia’s house, Mary Anne opens the pantry. In case the canned goods have committed arson?

Abby coming up with Agatha Kristy made me giggle.

Jessi cracks the case on Karl Tate, so good for her. Junior officers are good for something after all.

Shannon’s presence in this book, however, is almost completely pointless. She’s only useful because of her dog. Ironic, though, that a pet-napper’s son was partly undone by a dog.

It’s a little funny that Dawn was really the person who sent Tate to jail, but she wasn’t one of Woodie’s targets.

May 10, 2011

BSC Mystery #16, Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Dollars

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 11:01 pm by Jenn

This apron is not wacky enough for my tastes

Summary: Claudia’s taking a summer photography class, and her copious picture-taking inspires the BSC girls and their clients to put together an album for Dawn highlighting a day in Stoneybrook. They take lots and lots and lots of photos. Then they take some more photos. Then a bank gets robbed the same day they took some photos at the bank. Of course, the BSC girls decide to solve that mystery, and they think the photos Claudia took at the bank could provide some help.

The girls stake out the bank and find out that one of the robbery suspects is the VP there. They also keep seeing a woman with a baby carriage, and since she won’t let them actually see the baby, they wonder if she’s hiding something. Claudia develops her photos but someone opens the door to her makeshift darkroom and she starts to suspect the bank VP knows she has evidence of his wrongdoing. It’s kind of a moot point, since her photos are now ruined. Mary Anne remembers that she also took some photos at the bank, but all those show is that there was a light on in a window, even though the bank was closed, since it was a Sunday. Oh, and the woman with the baby carriage was a red herring.

The BSC girls take what they have to Sergeant Johnson at the Stoneybrook Police Department, and though he’s the only cop willing to even listen to them, he tells them they need more evidence than they have. Specifically, he needs a picture of the VP carrying something out of the bank to show that he took the money out. The photos don’t show enough details, so Claudia very smartly uses her camera lens to zoom in, then blows up the parts of the photos she needs to see more clearly.

Once the photos are enlarged, the BSC girls can see that the VP of the bank was wearing a pocket watch that didn’t work. They think that he might keep something inside of it, like maybe a key to a safe-deposit box where he’s stashed the money. Amazingly, they’re right, and even more amazingly, when Sgt. Johnson opens the watch, the VP confesses. But since he was dumb enough to be outsmarted by a bunch of teens and pre-teens, one of whom can barely tie her shoes, I’m not surprised. P.S. Janine opened the darkroom door and was too embarrassed to admit it. Yeah, no one cares, Janine.

Thoughts: This is Sgt. Johnson’s first book. Like Emily of BSC Chronologically, I choose to picture him as hot. Well, Claudia does focus on his “clear blue eyes.” Sounds hot to me.

Claudia’s parents make her take a summer math class, and she says she’ll do it if they let her take a photography class as well. I bet both sides thought they were the only ones winning in that compromise. Actually, Mr. and Mrs. Kishi would be happier about the photography class if they thought of it as a type of chemistry lesson, what with all the chemicals and reactions necessary to develop the photos.

Kristy won’t let Stacey talk to Logan when the girls are staking out the bank because he could be a suspect in the robber. Yes, Kristy, I’m sure a 13-year-old boy masterminded a bank heist.