Tag Archives: super thriller

Super Thriller #5: Murder on the Line

12 May

murder on the line

Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks?

Summary/Overview:

Jessica and Elizabeth are working as interns at the Valley News for what appears to be the second time, because they are driving the Jeep and the back of the book mentions the word “again” as if this is the second time, but it’s really, really hard to tell.  At any rate, it is their second week on the job, Jessica is already bored, and Elizabeth is totally kissing the ass of the newest hire, Bill Anderson.  Because of construction going on near the newspaper’s building (construction being done to create the tallest building in downtown Sweet Valley, courtesy of George Fowler), the paper’s phone lines are a total mess.  People keep intercepting other calls, and this is probably the thing that Jessica finds most interesting about her days at the paper.  She eavesdrops on a ton of calls until she hears a man identifying as “Greenback” threaten to kill someone else.  When she tells Liz about it, Liz brushes it off.  Jessica leaves work early to meet Lila at the beach, and the two are sunbathing when someone screams because a body has just washed up on shore.  Totally out of character, Jessica actually faints.

The next day, Jessica goes straight to the police.  She talks to a Detective Jason, who wants her to keep listening in on the phone and report back to him everything she hears.  She also finally, finally makes contact with Mr. Gorgeous, a young guy who works the next building over whose attentions she’s been trying to attract for days.  He introduces himself as Ben Donovan, and he tells her he’s an accountant.  Her interest in him dwindles as he tells her he’s also really into reading and classical music.

When Bill Anderson tells the twins that Rose, the receptionist quit, he assigns Jessica the job of manning the switchboard.  She can’t listen in on the phones while she does this job, but she figures out a way to call her own extension and listen that way.  It isn’t long before she overhears another call by Greenback, and this time, she records his conversation with a Dictaphone.  She plans to show it to Detective Jason later.  But as the conversations continue, she hears Greenback mention a friend in the police station, and undercover cop, and makes a comment about how a “spy” can’t be listening in at the office.  Jessica is worried, but not enough.

Meanwhile, Seth Miller and Elizabeth Wakefield are trying to solve the murder of Tracy Fox, the girl who washed up dead on the beach.  She was found with cocaine on her, and that’s why she ran away from home, according to her mother.  Liz and Seth go all over the place trying to figure out who knew her and why someone wanted to shut her up permanently.  But this is complicated by the fact that Jessica becomes convinced that Seth is Greenback–because he seems to be flush with cash and because the Telex in his office makes a similar noise to something she heard in the background of one of Greenback’s phone calls.

Elizabeth brushes off Jessica’s theory until she remembers that she actually saw Tracy Fox at the Western building shortly before she died.  When they check the visitor’s log, they find out that Tracy was there to see Seth! HOW CONVENIENT!  Elizabeth still isn’t convinced that Seth is Greenback OR a drug dealer, so she asks Jessica to give her some to figure it out.  Jessica agrees to wait until the following Monday.

While Elizabeth talks to Seth about his possible involvement (he mentions that he never met with Tracy but did receive a phone call from a scared-sounding girl), Jessica confides her suspicions in Bill, who tells her they’ll meet back at the office that night and go to the police together.  Jessica doesn’t think this is weird at all and agrees to it.  Liz and Seth meet at the Box Tree Cafe while Jessica goes ALONE to meet with Bill.  Liz and Seth piece together that Bill has moved all over, and every place he’s lived has had a drug-related death.  When they call the police to send help for Jessica, Detective Jason blows them off, so of course they race to save her.

Meanwhile, Jessica meets up with Bill, who is totally high on cocaine (she sees it on his desk) and chases her up onto the roof, where he tells her to jump off the roof with the conveniently-planted coke he wants to place on her.  He’s going to make her death look like a drug-fueled suicide and then frame Seth for the murder.  Wait, what?

LUCKILY Ben Donovan is the real undercover cop, and he arrives on the scene with Elizabeth and Seth.  He manages to save Jessica as Bill dives at her, sending Bill off the roof to his death.  Whatever, this is ridiculous.  Anyway, everything works out okay.  Detective Jason is “detained” for questioning, Ben asks Jessica out, and the twins are treated as heroes.  And we are treated to more didactic rambling about how drugs are bad.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Adam Maitland is still? living with the Wakefields
  • Todd is vacationing elsewhere with his family
  • I had to Google what a Telex is, and it’s basically like a fax machine?  I think?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Not metallic silver,’ Jessica murmured. ‘No matter how you’re shaped, it’s bound to make you look like a station wagon!'” (19)
  • “A violent murder had taken place, right there in the Sweet Valley area.  This kind of story was rare.” (59)
  • “‘If I had my way, you’d be shark bait by now, Jessica Wakefield,’ he rasped. ‘From now on, you’d better keep your mouth, eyes, and ears shut, or I’ll shut ’em for you.'” (116)

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I’m not sure why the timeline of this one bothers me so much.  I mean, it’s not like a completely wonky timeline is so out of the norm for this series.  Maybe it’s the flagrant disregard for continuity?  Like, the publishers didn’t care enough to give the readers a story that makes sense within the bounds of physics?  How do the twins have the Jeep in this one?  How are they still 16 even though it appears to be the summer following junior year?  Why is Todd around but not Sam?  Why is Adam Maitland making an appearance after disappearing for like, 25 books?  WHY?

Also, how dumb are the twins in this one?  The jumping to conclusions, and the complete logic fails make me crazy.  All of it is so contrived and so obviously a way to move the plot pieces around I can hardly stand it.  I’m thinking about this too much.  I should go lie down.

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SVH Super Thriller #4: Deadly Summer

30 Jan

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks?

Summary/Overview:
We’re back on summer vacation, and the twins are still working for the Sweet Valley News.  There’s a brief, disappointing recap of the previous three books in the thriller series, and the twins reflect on what a summer it’s been.  There’s some talk about going back to school, and my mind breaks trying to figure out if they’re going back for junior year part deux or senior year.

Jessica and Lila have been playing around with a Oujia board.  Liz thinks it’s dumb, and she tells them so.  After insulting her twin and Lila, the girls decide to play a trick on Liz using the Oujia board.  Jessica snoops in her stuff to find some private stuff from Jeffrey and they get Liz to use the board with them. Liz is unnerved, but Lila and Jessica then get the board to tell her that Bruce Patman is dying from a mysterious disease.  Liz buys it and starts spending all her time with him. Bruce goes along with it, hoping to hook up with her.  Lila is pleased, thinking it will piss Jeffrey off and give her an in with him.

MEANWHILE, Liz has started receiving weird phone calls that coincide with the escape of a patient from a nearby insane asylum.  This guy, named Donald Redman, kidnapped a cheerleader in his youth (her name was Melanie) and went crazy when she got her jock friends to bully him.  He thinks Liz looks like Melanie and has begun stalking him.  His sister happens to be a lady that Elizabeth babysits for.  I am trying to care.  Redman calls in bomb threats and generally causes panic in Sweet Valley.

The night of  the “Be True to Your School” night, the Droids play and Liz and Jeffrey fight about Bruce.  The next day, Bruce calls Liz threatening suicide and she runs off to meet him.  When Jeffrey finds them embracing at the tennis courts, he goes ape shit.  Bruce smirks and Liz realizes that it’s all been an elaborate ruse and runs into the nearby tunnels to hide.

You know what’s coming, right?  She runs into Redman who holds her hostage, manages to capture Jeffrey and Bruce, too, and threatens to blow them up.  Bruce takes away his bomb and Redman follows him.  The bomb goes off, and Liz and Jeffrey think Bruce is dead.  He’s not.  He saved the day, kind of.  Everyone goes to the Dairi Burger.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Lila got the Oujia board on a trip to London, where it is “all the rage.”
  • The Droids play a song called “A-Plus.”  Gross.
  • Elsa, the sister of Donald Redman, claims he has a persecution complex, which is, believe it or not, an actual complex
  • Tropic Flame is the name of the nail polish Lila wears
  • Redman uses Dynamite to make his bombs.  Why not C-4?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “‘Can you die of leprosy?’ Lila asked with a malicious giggle. ‘I mean, if he’s got to go, he might as well have something really interesting.'” (61)
  • “It wasn’t something they could talk about, and Elizabeth knew they would never be able to describe what had really happened to them, deep inside.  The horrific experience had left an indelible mark on their souls.” (198)

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

I guess I just don’t understand why this book exists.  It’s not interesting in any way, shape or form.  The Oujia board plays way too prominent a role in a book that is way too short on plot.  Redman doesn’t come into play until well into the story, and by then it’s hard to care about what’s happening.

Also, Elizabeth is a first-class BITCH in this book.  She insults Jessica and Lila at the beginning of the story and continues to look down at them as they play around with the Oujia board.  Meanwhile, she falls hook, line, and sinker for Bruce’s fake illness and rationalizes away her weird, clingy behavior as doing him a favor in his last days.  If anyone has a complex here, it’s her.

Next up?  Liz decides between Jeffrey and Todd, who’s moving back into town.

SVH Super Thriller #3: No Place to Hide

4 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 4 weeks?

Summary/Overview:

You know what, you guys?  I tried to recap this one and couldn’t do it.  The story is so convoluted and terrible that I kept getting tripped up by the intricacies of the plot.  The truth of the matter is that I read this book a long time ago and can barely remember what happened.  I never got around to writing the recap when I finished because I was busy and because I hated this book so much.  I need the twins and their summer internship at the Sweet Valley News to be over.

Basicallly: the twins are still working as interns at the paper.  There’s a big mayoral race coming up, and the two candidates are Kincaid and Robinson.  Kincaid seems to be the shadier of the two.  Nicholas Morrow meets a mysterious girl named Barbara and falls in love with her.  She lives with her controlling uncle, who is named John.  It turns out that he is Kincaid’s brother.  There’s this stupid plot about them being in an artists’ colony back in the day and Kincaid falling in love with the same woman, who chose another man.  Kincaid pushed her over a cliff in a jealous rage and then went into business with his brother John?  When Kincaid decided to run for mayor, John didn’t want him to and devised a ridiculous plot to make him think he was seeing the ghost of the woman he loved (who was the spitting image of Barbara).  There’s some peril, attempted murder, and lots of suspense.  It’s pretty much the worst mystery ever.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “He had been a private businessman for years and had made a great deal of money.  His business was described as import/export, but it wasn’t exactly clear what that entailed.” (4) [Blogger’s note: Worst info-dump ever?]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • The Sweet Valley News holds its summer picnic in Ronoma County, which is 40 miles southeast of Sweet Valley

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Nope.  I’ve got nothing.  Sorry for the lamest post ever.  The next one will be better, I swear.

Super Thriller #2: On the Run

14 Nov

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks?

Summary/Overview:

The twins are still working at the Sweet Valley News as summer interns.  In addition to a new, annoying intern named Darcy, the whole office is obsessed with a murder trial taking place on the East Coast.  The defendant, Frank DeLucca, has been accused of a whole bunch of shit, but nothing’s sticking because witnesses keep dying and everyone’s afraid to come forward.  The office talks about the inherent goodness of people for a while, and I try not to throw up.  Anyway, at the eleventh hour, a doctor comes forward with new information about the case, and after he gives testimony, he goes into the witness protection program.

Something like a week later, Liz gets coffee and meets a barista named Eric Hankman.  Eric and his father just moved to Sweet Valley from Ohio, and the two immediately click.  She gets jealous when Darcy admits that she likes him, but she decides that Eric is too smart to like a flighty floozy like Darcy.  Liz and Eric go out, and she gets confused about her feelings for him.  The fact that Eric seems to be kind of moody and hiding something doesn’t help.  Darcy keeps trying to flirt with Eric, and steals a poem from his notebook.  She gets Jessica to pretend to be Liz so she can get more of his poems.  I am bored.

There was a murder in Ohio around the time that Eric left, and since Darcy is also from Ohio, she starts to think that he might be the murderer.  Instead of going to the police, Jess and Darcy decide to keep spying on him.  This will end well.

There’s some sort of event wherein a child starts choking in a public place and Eric’s dad, who is a businessman, performs a tracheotomy on the kid, saving his life.  Someone recognizes Mr. Hankman as the doctor who testified against DeLucca, and he, Eric, and Liz run back to the Hankman house.  Liz tries to convince Mr. Hankman, aka Dr. Ryan, that he and Eric can stay in Sweet Valley because no one would ever harm them, but he doesn’t buy it.  He and Eric begin frantically packing.

While Liz and Michael (Eric) say goodbye, some gangsters with guns come into the house.  They order Liz and Michael upstairs while they talk to Dr. Ryan.  Liz and Michael press the alarm in the house that is apparently connected to other people’s houses, too.  When the alarm isn’t deactivated, a neighbor calls Dr. Ryan for the password, and he pretends it’s a wrong number.  There’s evil afoot.  The good neighbors of Sweet Valley burst into the house and tackle the goons with guns just as the police arrive.  Everyone is safe!  Eric and his dad still have to leave Sweet Valley, though.

I hated this book.  I’m sorry that the recap is so terrible, gentle readers.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Jessica looked distressed.  ‘You never like anyone interesting,’ she objected.  ‘You always like people like Jeffrey and Enid Rollins.'” (12)
  • “‘Darcy heard about this new fad diet that makes you lose twenty pounds a month.  All you do is eat grapefruit and rice,’ Jessica said.” (17)  [That sounds awesome and not remotely unhealthy.]
  • “The truth is I’m feeling very confused.  I am in love with Jeffrey.  But I also know that I’ve fallen in love with you, too.  Do you think it’s possible to be in love with two people at once?” (189)

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Lila is apparently vacationing in Carmel with her father.
  • It’s July, which doesn’t really make sense, but whatever.
  • Eric Hankman is a Taurus.  More time is spent on his astrological sign than I’m strictly comfortable with.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

Setting aside the sheer improbability of Liz and Jess meeting the people in the witness protection program after the testimony given during a trial that made national news, I’m having trouble swallowing the fact that Elizabeth finds herself in love with Eric/Michael when she’s supposedly so devoted to Jeffrey.

Part of my irritation stems from the fact that she’s always referred to as the sensible, logical twin, and there’s nothing about her hasty relationship with Eric/Michael that even hints at sense.  While I understand that we are not always in control of who we fall in love with, I find it insulting that Elizabeth looks down on Darcy’s flightiness and Jessica’s tendency to date lots of guys when she herself is guilty of being human.

At the end of the novel, Elizabeth decides she’s going to have to tell Jeffrey about Michael, but we as the reader do not get to see that conversation.  This is too bad, because there’s a lot of hilarity to be found there.  The fact that this will never be brought up again is also aggravating.  Damn these Super Thrillers and their existence outside the realm of the regular books!  Poor Jeffrey.

Super Thriller #1: Double Jeopardy

16 Oct

Estimated Time Elapsed: 5 weeks (summer vacation)

Summary/Overview:

The twins are summer interns at the Sweet Valley News. Their main duties are copying and getting coffee, but Liz hopes that by the end of the summer her boss Mr. Robb will let her do a story.  Jessica isn’t really focused on the news aspect of it until she decides that ace reporter Seth Miller is worth her attention, and then she starts fabricating stories trying to get his attention.  It does get his attention, but mostly because he’s pissed at her for making shit up and getting him into trouble.

Steven’s friend Adam Maitland is staying with the Wakefields for the summer because he’s poor but has an internship in Sweet Valley.  Jessica decides that Adam is the perfect distraction for Liz while Jeffrey’s gone (and will keep her from getting interested in the gorgeous Seth), so she really pushes Liz to hang out with him.  She also fabricates a letter from Adam to Liz that confesses his love for her.  In it, he vows to break up with his secret fiancee Laurie.  Liz finds it and worries, then tries to pretend like the letter never existed.

When Jessica works late one night at the newspaper, she witnesses a man loading a body into the trunk of a car in the parking garage.  This man gets a glimpse of Jessica before she races away in the Fiat.  Jessica goes home to an empty house and promptly freaks out, so she calls Seth, and after begging and crying for a while, she finally convinces him that she saw something.  He comes over and the two of them go back to the garage, but the white Trans Am that Jessica saw is gone.

Back at the Wakefield house, Ma and Pa Wakefield are extremely reluctant to believe Jessica’s story until the police call and say that they found the body of Laurie in the trunk of Adam Maitland’s car.  Everyone is shocked, but then they believe Jessica.  Adam is going to be tried for the murder of his fiancee unless they can find evidence that says otherwise, or whatever.

Liz is uncomfortable because she thinks the letter he wrote to her is motive, so she gives it to the police.  Jessica has to go to the station and confess about faking the note, but she doesn’t want Liz to know about that.  Seth Miller and Jessica work hard to get Adam to help them with the case, because apparently he’s given up on his life.  We’re supposed to care, but I don’t.  Adam finally tells them that Tom Winslow, the guy who Laurie’s grandfather wanted her to marry, was kind of crazy.  Maybe he killed Laurie?

Jessica and Liz have been forbidden from driving the Fiat until the police catch the guy in the white Trans Am.  The girls are told to always stick together, especially on the way to the newspaper office party.  But of course the police call and need Jessica to meet with them immediately, so Liz has to go alone.  She can’t get Steven’s car to start and the wait for a taxi is too long, so she takes the Fiat.  This will end well.

The newspaper office party is in full swing and Liz isn’t there yet.  Jessica gets introduced to a blond young man…who happens to be Tom Winslow.  She freaks but then tries to stall him from going into the parking garage where Liz could arrive at any moment.  Steven shows up at the party (seriously, these guys will let anyone in) and demands to know why the Fiat is gone.  Jessica puts two and two together and tells Steve and Seth to get the police.

At any rate, Tom enters the garage at the same time that Liz is finding a parking space.  He recognizes the car and thinks Liz is Jessica, and he tries to attack her.  She lays on the horn, Jessica comes running, and Tom is confused about there being two of them but then tries to kill them both anyway.  Jessica pulls the fire alarm, the police and guards show up, whatever I don’t even care.  They’ve caught the real killer!

Memorable Quotes:

  • “That’s okay, Liz.  It’s different for you–you want to be a features writer, not an investigative reporter.  You’re not interested in the sleuthing side of things.” (27)
  • “Nothing like this has ever happened in Sweet Valley.  I’ve been with this department for 25 years, and we’ve never had a murder here before.” (88) [ORLY Officer?  Justin Belson might have something to say about that.]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Liz has a Do No Disturb sign on her door.  Loser.
  • Seth Miller is 22 and apparently graduated from high school at 16, then went on to get his Master’s in journalism, and writes mystery novels in his spare time under the pen name Lester Ames.
  • Lila went to finishing camp when she was younger and likes to watch soap operas on a Watchman.  I didn’t even know this thing existed until I googled it.  Holy shit! Why didn’t I have one as a kid?
  • Los Vistas is a town about 10 miles from Sweet Valley.  Allegedly.
  • Tom Winslow is the third jerkface to drive a Trans Am.  I AM SENSING A PATTERN, PEOPLE.

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

This book was 215 pages of crap.  There was no real motivation for the murder.  Wouldn’t Tom have wanted to go after Adam and not Laurie, the woman he loved?  What kind of crack police force can’t find a white Trans Am that’s being driven all over town?  Why does this book exist?

One can only assume that the SVH Powers That Be came up with the idea of a super thriller (which is similar to a super edition, except with 50% more murder) because of the success of mystery novels like Nancy Drew.  The problem with this one is that there is no real mystery.  From the first mention of Tom Winslow, the reader knows it was him.  Isn’t the big reveal supposed to happen at the very end?  Isn’t that kind of…the point?

Also, what kind of parents would allow their sixteen year old to go out with a twenty-two year old?  Really?