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!