A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some

Archive for August, 2010

#44 Pretenses

Cara and Steven SO look like a married couple in their late 20s or early 30s en route to divorce on this cover. If I had to find a stock photo illustrating marital problems for a health book or marriage and family class or something, this is exactly the one I would choose! Kinda diggin’ Cara’s dress though. Kinda. She also looks much prettier than she did on the cover of Memories. They both have wack hair though.

Sweet Valley has gotten way lame ever since everyone started coupling up. Jessica recognizes this but has somewhat given up on her efforts to start breaking people up, thank God. I swear, if it isn’t one Wakefield twin all in your business, it’s the other one.

So now we get some boring couple-y problems in this, the latest in the 40s sequence of very boring SVH books. Cara feels that Steven is growing distant from her, and we are supposed to care. When we last saw them in book 43, they were at the premiere party for This Is Sweet Valley. A girl named Abbie Richardson showed up and started dancing with Steven while Cara moped around. According to the story, Abbie was once good friends with Jessica and Lila back in the ninth grade. Jessica and Abbie were “almost inseparable” according to Liz. But then Abbie started dating some sophomore dude named Doug Brewster from Palisades High and started ignoring her friends. Now, two years later, Doug and Abbie are over, Doug is dating some new chick named Mariel, and Abbie needs friends who don’t go to Palisades. Abbie doesn’t know how to make friends, so she’s become a people-pleaser to the max and it weirds everybody out. She is at the Wakefield house every day of the week and it’s kind of annoying.

Steven is home from college because he feels sick. You know, I didn’t come home from college at all my freshman year, Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks excepted, no matter how sicky I felt. I’m just sayin’. Anyway. He has to go through a bunch of allergy tests and have sinus X-rays or some shit. He seems just fine, it’s just a tad harder for him to breathe. Somebody probably feels worse with a hangover than Steven Wakefield does with allergies. What the fuck ever.

He also has a lot of schoolwork to do, and is sure to keep pointing that out to Cara as an excuse for ignoring her and not wanting to spend any time alone with her. Jessica suggests that Cara needs to put some “mystery” in the relationship to keep things interesting, and Cara listens to Jessica’s advice. Cara, do you not recall how just a few books ago, Jessica was trying to break you guys up?

Cara is planning a make-up birthday luncheon since Steven ruined her original birthday back in book 24 (Memories). That’s right, he made her feel so bad that she has to re-do her birthday. She holds a luncheon at some fancy place called the Marine House, where she can only afford to invite 14 people. She accidentally mentions it to Abbie, who just assumes Cara is going to invite her but hasn’t bothered to yet. Cara realizes it was silly of her to mention it and feels bad but never rectifies the situation. Abbie brags to her mother about her great new friends and gets a new dress and a silver ring for Cara, even though she realizes Cara hasn’t actually extended the invitation just yet. On the day of the luncheon, Abbie finally admits to herself that Cara is definitely not inviting her and pretends to be sick so her mother won’t wonder why she isn’t going. Abbie is hella pathetic.

Steven acts like a dick at the luncheon. He is quiet and reserved, then Cara catches him reading a letter on some fancy pink stationery. When she innocently asks him about it, he snaps at her and calls her a baby. Cara feels awful. Steven has now ruined two birthday celebrations. Cara deserves a wild birthday WEEKEND now if you ask me … and a new boyfriend.

Abbie starts hanging around the Wakefield house like, every day. Jessica loves it because Abbie just willingly does all her chores for her. Even though Abbie was supposedly Jessica’s friend in the past, she seems to gravitate more toward Liz this time around. Abbie also helps Steven out with his troubles with Cara. Steven tells her all about the letters. It turns out the stationery just happens to match that of Tricia Martin’s. Ugh! Tricia AGAIN!

Abbie encourages him to tell Cara about the letters, but he won’t. Abbie realizes there is major sexual tension between herself and Steven and feels uncomfortable about it. She recalls how Doug started dating Mariel while he was still with Abbie and how bad it made her feel. So she always manages to back away just as he puts his hand on her. Wow, awkward. But by now the twins are starting to realize that something is up. They see Abbie with Steven all the time, and they have seen the letters, even though Steven won’t spill about it to them, and they wind up investigating at the Sweet Valley Mall “Pen and Paper” stationery shop. The sales girl says someone about their age bought the last box of the fancy pink stationery. They figure it’s Abbie and determine she’s trying to steal Steve and freak out. Their suspicions are confirmed when Mr. Wakefield announces he has six tickets to a Lakers game from his firm and decides the sixth ticket should go to Cara. (Why not Jeffrey?) Steven says he wants to Abbie instead because he and Cara are having major problems, and everyone is shocked.

Jessica tells Lila about the basketball game and makes her swear not to tell Cara. You can see where this is coming. When Cara comes over to join them at lunch, Jessica takes off. Lila sees how unhappy Cara is and is astonished that Cara wants to go crying to Steven and make him love her again. So she tells Cara about the b-ball game and Cara is LIVID. I’m all ready for a showdown with Cara and Steven that I probably won’t get.

Eventually, the twins confront Abbie in front of Steven, who has found out he has a variety of allergies by the way. Don’t care. Everyone turns on Abbie and accuses her of writing the letters and trying to steal Steven. Abbie tells them they are wrong and goes home sad but proud that she stood up for herself. Then Cara comes over and spills that SHE wrote the letters. She was trying to put more mystery into their relationship and didn’t realize that the stationery was Tricia’s. Steven claims he was acting like a dick to begin with because his allergies were bothering him (bullshit) and he’s worried about his schoolwork (bullshit). I think he just finally got some real college tail somewhere and is feeling guilty about it. Steven and Cara make up and he acts like she is crazy to think he would even want to be with another girl. Sure, after you pretty much ditched Cara on her ass as soon as a chick who looked just like Tricia Martin showed up. (Ferney, anyone?) The Wakefields and Cara go over to Abbie’s house and apologize and everyone is friends again. Mr. Wakefield manages to get a seventh ticket for the Lakers game so that Cara can go too. And LOLZZZZ, they all have a great time! And Cara easily forgives that Steve didn’t even want her to come the first time. I would so be done with this bullshit.

Even though Abbie basically infiltrated their family for weeks on end, I’m guessing that’s the last we will hear of her. Good, she irritates me.

The sub-plot: I guess this is supposed to be about Abbie Richardson and her troubles making friends or something. The Oracle did a survey of its readers and noticed that readership is down. Man, they really take their high school newspaper seriously, huh? Winston’s solution is to make a humor section. The paper runs a contest to see who gets to start doing the new humor feature, and the two finalists are Abbie (with a comic strip called “Jenny”) and Amy fucking Sutton (with a Miss Manners-style column). Wait, are you fucking kidding me? Since when is AMY well-mannered? Fuck her, I hate her. Abbie has such a need for friendship that she helps Amy craft her column, but Abbie wins anyway.

Other stuff: Abbie thinks to herself that she wishes she could be Elizabeth Wakefield. Yes, another sad sack who desperately wants to be Liz’s friend since she can’t actually be Liz. GAG ME WITH A SPOON ALREADY. And there’s this: “[…] Abbie couldn’t help thinking how great the Wakefield family was.” You and everyone else in this town, Abbie.

Steven is still a freshman at the “local state university” which is said to be “45 minutes” away from Sweet Valley.

Abbie’s middle name is Bain. It’s an old family name.

Jessica jokes, “Maybe you’re allergic to college. You come home often enough.” Finally, somebody said what we were all thinking!

Here are the kids who are at Cara’s luncheon at the Marine House: Steven, Jessica, Liz and Jeffrey, Maria and Winston, Sandra and Manuel, Amy and Bruce, and Jean and Tom. I can’t help but notice that Enid and Hugh aren’t there. Man, Enid seriously has no friends outside of Liz. I think Enid has maybe one scene in this whole book, to be honest. Also, why don’t Robin and Annie ever hang out with the cheerleaders? They’ve been absent from a lot of these books. I guess Jessica still has issues with both of them. And finally, what is up with Liz and Jeffrey always invited to events for people who are more Jessica’s friends? Since when does Liz even like most of these people?

Amy and Bruce still mess around on occasion but have drifted apart since Regina died.

Once again, we get the implication that when a relationship is on the verge of ending, it’s okay to just go ahead and get in someone else’s pants before you have actually grown the balls to break up with that person. It’s a more subtle implication than it was in books 40 and 41, but it’s there.

Steven talks about how Cara never wanted to talk to him about Tricia. Gee, I recall that not being the case when they got together. She was the one who helped him get over that shit.

Cara tells Lila she thinks Liz is behind Steve’s inviting Abbie to the game and not her. Ha ha, I guess she’s still remembering how Liz didn’t want them to get together in the first place. I was eagerly looking forward to a Cara-Liz smackdown, but it never happens 😦

From the Mouth of Lila Fowler: “Is something wrong with you? You look like you just lost every share of stock you own.” -to Cara, at the lunch table

Coming up next: The twins have another stupid cousin coming to town. This time it’s the daughter of Alice’s sister Laura. Her name is Kelly Bates and we have never heard of her before.


#43 Hard Choices

“BOR-ING!” ~Homer Simpson

Enid’s recently widowed grandmother, Nana/Mother/Mrs. Langevin, is coming from Chicago to live with Enid and her mom, Adele. Enid moves up to the attic and helps make everything ready, only to be astonished when her grandmother seems more like a old grump than she remembered. She finds that “Nana” seems less than pleased to have moved all the way to Sweet Valley, which shocks Enid and Adele. Well, y’all, you’re the ones who strongarmed her into leaving her own house to come stay with you in the first place.

Nana is a pain. She acts like a needy, demanding, critical, manipulative old bag. She can’t stand to be left alone in the house, so she sets things up so that Enid always has to break her plans with her friends at the last minute. She puts down Adele’s boyfriend until Adele finds herself putting off answering Richard’s marriage proposal. (By the way, Adele’s boyfriend’s name is Richard Cernak. That’s also the name of a gay porn star. I’m just sayin’.) She tells Enid she thinks Richard is an alcoholic just because he drank a glass of fucking Bourbon. She rags on Enid about her friends, saying they’re not good people for her to hang around. She says of Liz: “She seems very bossy to me, ordering everyone around.” I almost spat out my tea laughing when I read that. IT’S FUNNY ‘CAUSE IT’S TRUE.

Enid is already having problems with her boyfriend, Hugh Grayson. Who is Hugh, you ask? Well, back in book 39, Enid took him on a double date to the beach with Jeffrey and Liz. He hasn’t been mentioned since, but that’s the dude. Since he goes to Big Mesa High School, they really only see each other on the weekends, and now Nana is trying her hardest to split them apart. She throws a fit when she sees them kissing briefly. She talks Adele into not letting Enid go on an overnight (and chaperoned … although we all know that doesn’t mean shit) school field trip with Hugh’s class. Enid has to keep breaking dates with Hugh at Adele and Nana’s insistence, and he’s ready to dump her ass. Enid finally snaps and screams at her grandmother that she hates her, rather than just telling her straight up how she feels. Harsh, Enid. Harsh. But because this is Sweet Valley, her grandmother magically transforms back into her old self. She explains that she just had a hard time following her husband’s death and announces that she’s going to go ahead and uproot herself yet again to move back to Chicago. Then Hugh comes over to apologize to Enid for throwing some flowers that he’d brought her earlier on the ground (yes), and Enid introduces him to Nana and they all eat ginger snaps and play charades, and then Adele comes home and joins in the fun, and it’s all laughs and giggles and shit. Yawn.

Enid looks much prettier on this cover than she did on that of book 20. But what the fuck is she wearing? Did she just come from playing basketball? I don’t even want to get into it.

The sub-plot is all about a documentary contest that Susan Stewart’s absentee stepdad is holding. Liz gets the oh-so-brilliant idea to make a documentary about Sweet Valley, called – natch – This Is Sweet Valley. I’m sure a famous director is going to decide that the best entry he’s received is a film about some high school kids running around a little town that nobody cares about. Jessica stars as the narrator and they go and interview the mayor and Jeremy Frank and show scenes of kids clowning around. Winston chases Jessica with a fake arrow through his head and it’s left in the film for laughs. Ken actually asks him how he got the arrow out of his head, and I don’t think he’s kidding. Ken is so the stereotypical dumb jock. I hate to validate Suzanne Hanlon and her family, but come on. There’s another scene of Prince Albert getting water all over Jessica at the beach that is left in for laughs too.

Other stuff: At one point, Liz puts her hand on Enid’s knee. I swear these two have something going on. Are they going to get together in Sweet Valley Confidential? I’m not even half-joking.

Steven is described as “a freshman at a college not far from Sweet Valley.” More evidence he’s mysteriously not at SVC anymore.

We never hear if the SV documentary won the dumb contest, or if Adele ever told Richard if she would marry him or not. Not that I care, but I can’t help but notice shit like that.

I don’t like this title. I don’t see what the hard choices are. Is it about Enid being torn between her grandmother and her social life? Because that’s not really it; it’s about her being too big of a wimp to fucking say anything and stand up for herself. Her grandmother might be acting ridiculous, but holding it all in until you explode is hardly the best way to deal with it. I kind of wish Nana had slapped her in the face and called her a hussy. Ha ha!

Coming up next: Steven might be cheating on Cara with some chick. It’s probably because the chick reminds him of his dead girlfriend.

#42 Caught in the Middle

This book is all about mean people.

Sandy Bacon the cheerleader has been dating Manuel Lopez for a few weeks, whose heritage is Mexican. Sandy’s parents are bigoted against minorities. Sandy’s mother, Irene, grew up in an area plagued with racial violence. There were also some riots in another town called Los Perros which further scared Irene. Now while none of this is ever fully expanded upon, I guess we are supposed to think that this makes her prejudice against “those people” (her words) little more excusable. Sandy’s dad, meanwhile, is rumored to have written a letter to the Sweet Valley News complaining about minorities and immigrants running the town. Or so Lila Fowler says.

Manuel is desperate to meet Sandy’s parents, especially since Sandy has already become well-acquainted with the Lopezes. But Sandy puts it off, always having Manuel pick her up on the corner and telling her parents that she’s going somewhere with Jeanie. Since her parents have no idea that Manuel exists, they keep trying to set her up with some dude from their country club, a senior from Westwood High named Carl Pierce. They want Sandy to go with Carl to the country club dance. Country club dance? Bleaaah. It takes Manuel a while to figure out why Sandy is so reluctant to introduce him to her folks, but once he does, he’s rightfully disturbed. Sandy promises she will broach the subject with them soon.

Liz Wakefield puts an item about Sandy and Manuel in her stupid Eyes and Ears column, and Jeanie tells Sandy about it right before it goes to print. Sandy finds Liz and begs her not to put the item in there. Of course, rather than just agree to take Sandy’s business out of the fucking column, Liz demands an explanation! She has to put it in there! It’s the news! HATE. YOU. LIZ. This prompts Sandy to start bawling and explain the whole situation to Liz, giving Liz the perfect opportunity to dictate what she should do about it.

Sandy asks her mom a couple of times “What would you do if I were dating a Mexican boy?” and then tries to start a discussion about the topic. Her mom is so distressed that she can’t even sleep over the very thought of it. HELLO SANDY’S MOM, THIS IS CAPTAIN OBVIOUS SPEAKING … YOUR DAUGHTER’S QUESTIONS WERE NOT REALLY HYPOTHETICAL, WOMAN!

Jeanie gets sick of covering for Sandy, especially after the Wests have a barbecue with the Bacons and Mrs. Bacon keeps making comments about how much time Sandy and Jean have been spending together during the week. Jean feels awkward and has to keep monitoring the situation so she can change the subject whenever this comes up. Now Jean is refusing to do this bullshit for Sandy anymore, but Manuel really wants to take Sandy out on her speedboat, which she got for her 16th birthday. DAAAAAAAAAMN I don’t think even Lila Fowler got a speedboat for her birthday! Since she can’t ask Jean anymore, Sandy suddenly acts like she is Liz’s best friend and convinces her to come out on the boat, Solar One, at Secca Lake that day. Liz really doesn’t want to, probably because she doesn’t even really know Sandy, but Sandy insists, saying that Manuel really wants her to go. Then Liz is like, “Oh, okay! It’s great that this kid I’ve never even talked to wants me to go so badly. How wonderful. Count me in.” When Liz shows up at the lake, Manuel is upset because he was looking forward to a romantic boat ride with just Sandy. Liz figures out the real reason Sandy asked her, since she couldn’t before for some reason, and she feels like a dumbass, and I’m glad.

Solar One‘s engine runs into trouble and explodes. Liz and Manuel are thrown into the air and hit the water, but Sandy burns her hands and is left knocked unconscious in the boat as it burns. Manuel climbs on board and saves her right before the fire reaches the gas tank and the whole boat blows up. He directs Elizabeth to swim back to the shore while he hauls Sandy behind. Sandy wakes up soon afterwards, and her very first thoughts are “Oh no! Manuel saved me! I can’t let my parents find out! Manuel, go away! Liz, you take the credit!” Manuel obliges and walks away as reporters rush up to Liz to get the story … wow, that was fast. Liz feels obligated to take the credit but asks the newspaper to please not publish her name! And they’re all, But we have to! It’s the news! WHAT NOW BITCH!

Soon, the PTA is fawning all over Liz, and the Bacons praise her to high heaven and buy her a gold bracelet. Sandy STILL doesn’t want to tell the truth. Okay Sandy, I know this is hard and all, but the time to grow some ovaries arrived some time ago. Manuel agrees, and he tells Sandy they are over.

It gets worse. The Bacons don’t believe that the boat’s explosion was an accident and push the inept SV cops to investigate further. A bunch of witnesses at Secca Lake say they saw a Hispanic kid hanging around the boat as well. Manuel is hauled in for questioning and he steadfastly refuses to take the blame. Good for you, Manuel. But then Sandy’s parents make her come in with them to see if she recognizes Manuel, because by this time he has told the police that he is friends with Sandy and Liz. Sandy looks right at him and says, “I’ve never seen him before in my life.” HATE HER.

The cops are all ready to charge Manuel but then Sandy starts crying and yells about how much she loves Manuel. And he actually forgives her! I wouldn’t! And the Bacons are just like, “Oh, okay, yes, you’re right, Sandy. Yes Manuel, we would love to come to the Mexican Festival with you and your family! And we want you to take Sandy to the country club dance!” Just like that, y’all. I truly wish all bigotry disappeared this easy! Of course, this whole showdown occurs just as Liz slips into the room to hear it. She is able to explain away how she felt obligated to take the credit and help Sandy. Barf.

The sub-plot: It’s so thin and pathetic. It’s about the other mean girl in this book, Jessica Wakefield. She decides the best thing to do for Lila Fowler’s birthday is to pretend no one gives a crap, then throw a crazy surprise party the day AFTER her birthday. Cara, Amy, and everyone else all go along with the plan. Lila is furious and decides she hates her friends. Her birthday is ruined and she is miserable that day. But it’s okay because the day AFTER her birthday, she comes to the Wakefields’ house at Cara and Amy’s insistence, where Jessica has planned a killer surprise party. Lila stands there saying, “Yesterday I thought I didn’t have a friend in the world” and then goes on to say that she now feels super lucky and what a great and amazing friend Jessica is. Everyone else is praising Jessica to the high heavens as well. I DON’T GET IT. Jessica ruined her friend’s ACTUAL birthday, and now it’s supposed to be okay? What a mean bitch! The worst part is that everyone else is telling Jessica how “genius” her idea is, and giving her all the attention, which is clearly what she wanted in the first place. I have had some friends like Jessica, always demanding that all the attention be on them no matter what, and I want to slap them all in the face. I want to slap Jessica too.

Other stuff: There is a new French bistro in San Mirabel called Jacques’. Just so y’all know.

Cara and Jessica prepare Lila’s birthday banner in the student lounge of all places. Yep, sounds like a great place to hide a secret from another student at SVH …. wtf.

I could’ve sworn Lila already had a birthday in book 11.

I can’t help but notice that Liz never gave Mrs. Bacon back that gold bracelet that she did not deserve to be given.

The cover: Manuel looks like a teacher. Sandra looks 30. Business as usual.

Next up: Enid’s grandmother is moving in with her and her mom … sounds so exciting.

Super Thriller #1 Double Jeopardy

Ah, the beginning of the Super Thrillers. A Super Thriller, in case you are unaware, is really a Super Edition that gives the twins an excuse to play detective. And you can tell they are playing detective because the first four Super Thrillers frame the twins with magnifying glasses. Just in case you couldn’t figure that out. Hehe.

Let’s look at this cover. Elizabeth and Jessica are cracking me up with deer-in-headlight, totally unnatural poses and mouths hanging open … total blowjob face on Liz. Liz’s suit is HIDEOUS. I know that these scarf-and-suit combos were popular in the late 80s, but come on! That pinky-purple color makes me feel sick, and of course she has the matching barrettes going on! The twins are in some kind of garage or basement under a glaring light, and Jessica’s hand clutching Liz’s arm looks so weird (and painful … could you clutch any harder, Jess?). Jessica’s shirt has weird sleeves, Liz’s chest is totally flat, and both girls need to give up on those feathery bangs already.

The plot: So, remember how Liz previously decided to give up her prized summer internship at the Sweet Valley News at Jessica’s wheedling? Now the tables have turned for the twins’ umpteenth summer. Elizabeth has the internship again, and Ned and Alice have pushed Jessica to do it too because she couldn’t come up with anything else to do (other than proposed luxurious vacations that never panned out). Although Jessica was sure it was going to be boring, she finds she now actually loves being a little gofer for one reason. If you guessed the reason is a male, DING DING DING. The book opens with her swooning over the hotness of one of the News reporters, Seth Miller, who’s from D.C. Even though he’s 22, Jessica is sure she can get him to want a piece of her jailbat ass. For right now, he seems to find her annoying. Oh, and also, even though he’s only 22, he’s a successful published mystery writer with the pen name of Lester Ames.

Jess does have some other things to pout about like a 2-year-old, though. One of those is Steven’s college buddy, Adam Maitland. Jessica is irritated that he and Steven are moving into the Wakefield home for the summer (for some bigshot law internship) because that means the house is now “cramped” and she can’t keep all her extra stuff in Steven’s room. How was she doing that anyway since Steve was home every damn weekend? The second thing that’s annoying Jess is that Liz is too seriously involved with Jeffrey. Jeffrey is away in San Francisco as a camp counselor, and Liz is mooning over him and writing him letters all the time. Jessica thinks Liz should find somebody new and stop the boring committed shit already. Yawn, same old song there. Jess decides to handle both of these terribly pressing issues by attempting to get Liz to hook up with Adam. Since Adam readily admits he’s just not as smart as Steven, he’s already off to a good start with the Wakefields. (“I wish I were as naturally smart as your son, though. I have to work really hard to get good grades,” says Adam. GAG ME.) He then proves my personal suspicion that the Wakefields have a hypnotic way of getting people they’ve just met to confess their most personal problems. He just goes ahead and spills all about his girlfriend Laurie Hamilton, a 17-year-old from nearby San Marino, whose wealthy grandfather Tucker Forbes (heh) disapproves of her relationship because Adam’s poor and not smart or something. Tucker wants Laurie to marry some other dick named Tom Winslow instead, who hates Adam’s guts because he also loves Laurie. Laurie is pretending to slightly like Tom for now, and hiding Adam from Tucker so that she’s safe to claim her trust fund when she turns 18 in a couple of weeks.

Jessica must be really bored this summer, because she starts acting even more like a twelve-year-old than usual. Seriously, I felt like I was reading something out of Sweet Valley Twins. First she decides the best way to get Adam and Liz together is to type up a fake letter from Adam professing his undying love for Liz and stick it under Liz’s pillow. In the note, “Adam” writes that he is going to act like he doesn’t feel anything for Liz for now until he can figure out a way to let Laurie down easy. Of course, Liz of Troy believes that someone who just met her like one or two days ago has indeed fallen for her. She’s a Wakefield, so it just makes sense. Vain bitch.

Further proving her ridiculous immaturity and ability to greatly pain my brain, Jessica decides the best way to get close to Seth Miller is to make up stupid “leads” for him to write about. First she lies and claims that a big kitchen fire at the Box Tree Cafe was an arson. Seth believes her and rushes to check it out, and is laughed away by an investigator and the manager, who saw the fire happen himself and makes a joke about how Seth will have to write about how an omelet deliberately caught the place on fire. Yes, I chuckled at that. Seth is super embarrassed, but he forgives Jessica because she just has such a pretty smile! Next, Jessica makes up a big fucking story about how her next door neighbor Mr. Bennett stole some money from the bank and buried it in his backyard. Once again, Stupidass Seth believes her, types up the story, and turns it into their boss, Lawrence Robb. Thankfully, Lawrence reads the story first, determines it’s a piece of shit and chews both of them out for making shit up that could have you know, destroyed somebody’s reputation. He should seriously fire both of them, and he has a mind to, but … but … JESSICA IS JUST SO ADORABLE! AWWWWW! So he reassigns Jessica to doing grunt work for some old hag and lectures Seth about journalistic standards that he clearly doesn’t know shit about.

Let’s get into the mystery already. You know you can’t wait. Judging from what we’ve already seen of the Sweet Valley police force in previous books, this is going to be just golden. So Jessica leaves work late one night, working past 10 p.m., which has to be illegal for minors or something. The guard on that level of the parking garage is off-duty, and Jess sees a man near a white Trans Am (wtf, third white Trans Am in recent books), which has a rusty spot shaped like an S on it. She also notices Adam’s car is the only other car still in the garage, and the she notices that the Trans Am man is in fact carrying a dead body. Trans Am Man sees Jessica and she floors it out of there in hysterics. Everyone is understandably skeptical of her story because she’s already shown she’s a pathological liar many a time. But then it turns out Adam has been arrested. You see, he found Laurie’s body in the trunk of his car, and when the police arrived, they found the rope used to strangle her in the glovebox and just assumed that Adam did it. He’s charged with murder and everyone thinks Jessica’s story about the Trans Am and the body isn’t really that important, because look, THE ROPE WAS IN ADAM’S CAR! Oh, those pre-DNA days … Then the cops just go ahead and tell the whole story of the murder and all the crucial evidence to the Wakefields when they show up at the station to learn more about Adam’s arrest. Oh, these stupid fucking cops.

Meanwhile, Liz goes and shows the letter from “Adam” to her dad who takes it to the police, and then a douchebag named Dan Weeks gets to write up the story about how this proves Adam killed Laurie and gets a bunch of praise for it. Old Lawrence doesn’t trust Seth to get his shit straight anymore. Seth is pissed so he is super agreeable to Jess’s latest plan, which is to investigate the murder themselves and find Trans Am Man. They start spending a lot of time together and no one thinks to wonder what an adult is doing hanging around a high school chick all the time. After a bunch of farting around, Jessica finally tells the police that she actually wrote the note to Liz, and they’re like, “Now, keep this a secret so the real murderer feels safe and we can catch him, while your friend here rots in jail.” So of course she goes and tells Seth right off the bat, while hiding it from her sister who is still freaked out that Adam is supposedly obsessed with her. While also not telling Liz, Jess goes ahead and hints to Adam that he shouldn’t worry about this letter that he knows he didn’t write. Jess and Seth interview Adam and his parents, who have flown in from South Dakota (which is, of course, portrayed as the sticks) in the jail. They get more information about Tom Winslow, the dude Tucker wanted Laurie to marry. Tom’s supposed to be a scary person because he has severe depression. Okay. What I want to know is, WHY is no one asking Adam if Tom happens to drive a white Trans Am with an ugly old rust stain?

Ned and Alice have laid down the parental law for once, and won’t let the twins use the Fiat because Trans Am Man might see it and chase them, and garage it so he won’t drive by and see it. Um, you guys are aware that it’s not too much of a stretch for scary dude to find out where you live anyway, right? He just has to make the five minute drive around Sweet Valley looking for your daughters. Case in point: Jessica disobeys the rules one day, takes the Fiat, and runs into Trans Am Man driving around. She freaks out, but he just speeds away from her. Ned is pissed and takes the keys away for good until Trans Am dude is caught. He also grounds the twins. They are only allowed to go to their internship, only with a ride or in Steven’s car, and never anywhere at all by themselves.

Now Ned and Alice have grounded the girls for their own safety, but then think nothing of leaving them both home alone while they take off. The girls are supposed to ride with Seth to a stupid office party. Liz is too appalled that they have actually been grounded to be too alarmed when Seth has to beg off the ride, leaving the girls stuck to ride in Steven’s car together. Then Jessica gets a call telling her that she needs to go to the police station to check something out, but she doesn’t want Liz to know because then she’ll find out that Jessica wrote the Adam letter. So Jessica arranges to ride over with a cop instead while Liz takes off for the party by herself. Even though both the girls aren’t supposed to go anywhere without the other tagging along, because that’s going to ward off a killer from offing both of them, Liz stops playing Miss Responsibility for a change and doesn’t bat an eye at this plan. She also doesn’t know what a witness statement is. Wow.

At the station, Jessica is shown a single picture of Tom Winslow to see if it’s the same man she saw the night of the body-dumping in the garage. Um, okay, pretty much all I know about murder investigations I got from Law & Order and the newspaper and shit like that, but – aren’t you supposed to show several pictures together along with the “suspect”? What? Jessica says it is Tom and freaks out that he is the killer, DUN DUN DUN, DUUUUUUUH. I have no idea how one person is so hard to find in a little old town like Sweet Valley. He’s out there driving around in broad daylight in his very obvs marked car and no one gives a shit!

Meanwhile, Liz has no ride to the fucking boring office party but feels she must go, so she just finds Ned’s very obviously-hidden keys, then grabs the Fiat after Steven’s car won’t start. Liz, slow down baby, there will be a time when you will BEG not to have to go to these damned things.

The police drop Jessica off at the party but doesn’t offer to escort her through the same garage where she saw Tom with Laurie’s body. And even though she made this detour, she’s somehow there way before Liz. Well what do you know, Jessica sees the Trans Am in the garage again and freaks out. Once inside the party, she runs into Seth … talking to Tom Winslow! Tom is the son of some big shot and he is friends with a reporter named Bob Carlisle, or something. Seth is surprisingly calm about Tom even though he and Jessica were just interviewing Adam about what a nutcase Tom is and how it’s not at all unlikely he is Trans Am Man. In fact, Seth doesn’t seem to have heard of Tom prior to this fucking party. I’m so confused. Jessica gets Seth by himself, tells him that Tom is Laurie’s killer, and gets him to run and call the police “from a pay phone” (hello 1987, haha) while she stays behind to keep Tom from leaving the party. I don’t get why it’s not the other way around. And why is Seth using a pay phone? They don’t have a phone somewhere in the office that he could covertly use?

Tom leers at Jessica and tries to get her to go to a pub with him. Ewww! He’s like, way too old, and she just told him she’s in high school. I guess he’s looking for more ways to go to jail. I’m just sayin’. He knows he has seen her before, but he has no idea where. He was too far away to see her the night of the murder.

After Jessica denies Tom’s request, he gets pissed off that she is rejecting him and storms out to the garage, where Liz has just pulled up in the Fiat Spider. Tom blocks the Fiat with his ugly ass Trans Am and attacks Liz with a lead pipe, thinking she’s Jessica. He’s just NOW figured out where he’s seen Jess before. Way to go, Tom old boy. Oh oh oh, and we find the real reason for Tom’s depression. He yells at “Jessica” (Liz) that he has never really had a girlfriend before. Oh I get it! This is what happens when you can’t get a date. It means something is wrong with you and if Liz can’t fix you, you’re going to wind up going insane. I’m surprised Liz didn’t offer to get him a man makeover on the spot.

Jessica runs out, sees the attack and interferes. He chases both of them around the garage with the pipe. Every time he demands they come to him, they go ahead and do it rather than running like hell. The security guard comes up to help and Tom beats him unconscious. Then Liz runs off to the stairwell, pulls the fire alarm, and passes out in the stairs while Tom gets ready to beat Jessica to death. Seth and everyone else hear the alarm and run into the garage where Seth pulls Tom off of Jessica and then cradles her in his arms like she always wanted. Woo woo. Jessica is praised with catching the murderer and Lawrence Robb rewards her and Seth by allowing them to write their own feature story on the fiasco together. This pisses Liz off. Then Jessica admits to Liz that it was her, not Adam, who wrote that stupid love letter. This also pisses Liz off. I’m loving Jessica right now. Then Jessica uses the fact that Tom attacked her to coax Seth into agreeing to take her out to dinner AND give her a starring role in his next Lester Ames novel, all while failing to notice that he seriously doesn’t like her like that. Are you fucking kidding me? Now I’m not loving Jessica.

The story ends with Jessica continuing to snoop around and deciding that she is now a bonafide Nancy Drew. We never find out what the hell that rusty “S” on the Trans Am was all about. Oh, and the News didn’t put Jessica in the byline for the big story, which makes her pout but pleases Liz. They can both bite me.

This book is dumb beyond belief.

The back of the book has an ad for your own “Super Sleuth Sweet Valley High Miniature Camera”! There’s a picture of it:

The ad says it’s worth almost 14 dollars (in 1987 currency). Does anyone out there have one of these? And does it actually say “Sweet Valley High” anywhere on it?

Other stuff: It strikes me as somewhat morbid that our first Super Thriller is titled “murder” right after the death of Regina. It also strikes me as strange that this Super Thriller is themed around summer, but was released in December 1987.

In this book, Ned is said to practice “litigation.” I’m glad we have his type of law cleared up. I’ll remember that the next time he randomly does some other type instead.

Jessica plays hooky from work with Lila, who is absorbed in a show on her Watchman. You know, those mini-portable TVs with the headphones?

The detective “investigating” Laurie’s murder claims that in the past 25+ years, there has never been a murder in Sweet Valley. Right! Glad to know you’ve been forgotten already, Justin Belson’s dad.

The Wakefields eat dinner at a new Mexican restaurant out in Los Vistas, yet another town near Sweet Valley that we have never heard of before and never will again …

The book makes it sound like being interns at the newspaper means you get to write stories. Um, I don’t know a whole lot about being an intern, but I thought it would be more like fetching coffee and shit.

Cute play on a legal term with the title. Hurrrrrr. I think these Super Thrillers were a big deal at the time because the Nancy Drew Case Files series was all the rage. I read those like crazy in third grade.

Next up … it’s back to the regular series, and a story about that pathetic sack of shit, Sandy Bacon. Yeah, I’m harsh!

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