Welcome to the second installment of the little SV mystery series. We’re back to the (eleventy-billionth) summer after 11th grade, and Liz and Jess are still interning at the Sweet Valley News. Jeffrey is still off at camp in San Francisco. So I guess this book is supposed to be placed right after the first one … I have no idea.
Since our last Thriller was mostly from Jessica’s juvenile perspective, this time around we’re going to get Liz’s lofty one, not to mention her hypocrisy and family worship. One of the first chapters of the book opens with Mrs. Wakefield feeling “bad” for eating a second taco (is there anyone out there who only eats one taco? for real?), while her son assures her that she looks just like a model. And of course we haven’t heard Jessica talk about diets for a while, so she tells us about a stupid grapefruit-and-rice diet that will get you to lose 20 pounds in the first month. Love how no one makes a point to say how ridiculously unhealthy that is.
We get a simplistic view of the “trial of the century” in New York City, involving a mob boss named Frank DeLucca who allegedly had the only witness against him, Ray Greenwood, murdered before he could testify. Everyone is talking about this trial and how DeLucca is expected to go free. (Frank DeLucca … sounds like Frank LaSalle from Malibu Summer… redundant much?) Liz is “passionately involved” with the case and is enraged whenever anyone suggests that the fear of being slaughtered will prevent someone from stepping forward to testify. And she smirks and proclaims her faith in human nature is proved right when a brave new witness steps forward at the last minute to testify! Dr. William Ryan has a handwritten letter from Ray Underwood before he died in which he stated DeLucca is every bit the criminal people think he is … and why he’d give this letter to his doctor, I have no idea. Isn’t that weird for a doctor and his patient to share such a close relationship? Well, the good doctor testifies, DeLucca is put away for good, and then the doctor is put into the witness protection program and moved off to parts unknown! He’s On the Run, get it? Gee, do you think he might wind up in Sweet Valley?
There are some new kids in town, and you’d think they’d make the plot of this more exciting, but they are as trite as ever. I don’t think anything can save a series that fumbles through the justice system and the bumbling Sweet Valley police department this badly.Here are our main players in this series:
–Seth Miller, a reporter and the twins’ friend. He avoids Jessica because she had a mad crush on him in the last book and pretty much sexually harassed him at work. I thought they were good friends in the end though, but guess I was wrong.
–Adam Maitland, Steve’s college buddy who is staying with the Wakefields for the summer. His beloved girlfriend Laurie was killed in the last Thriller. He was falsely accused of murdering her and was locked up for it, but he’s over it already. Jessica’s eyewitness account helped save his ass – but in this book, he thanks LIZ for saving him! Liz didn’t even believe Jessica, and it was Liz’s tattling that almost ensured Adam got sent to a pound-me-in-the-ass prison for life to begin with! What the fuck Adam!
–Darcy Kaymen, the new girl in town and new intern at the News. She just moved here from Toledo and she’s *gasp!* going to Whitehead Academy (wherever that is) in the fall rather than SVH! I guess that’s a convenient way to explain her disappearance later. It’s also a good way for the ghostwriter to excuse her for being a huge snob, not to mention excruciatingly annoying and fucking delusional. Darcy is instant best friends with Jessica, but she hates Liz for no apparent reason (read: Liz is easy to hate), and plays dumb tricks on her, like fucking up a reporter’s coffee order. Darcy is infatuated with both Eric and Andy (see below) and acts like a ten-year-old around both of them. Kind of like Jessica used to act around Seth, only worse.
–Eric Hankman, the new boy in town. He works in the Western Building coffee shop, and he also just moved here from Ohio. He’s from Cleveland. Liz and Eric are clearly crushing on each other while Jeffrey is away at camp, but Liz is in denial. Eric is brooding and is clearly hiding something. Since he gets depressed and secretive anytime someone asks him about his life before Sweet Valley, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what that something is. He also has lots of sad poetry about a destroyed love or something. Jessica figures he’s just broody because he’s from the midwest … is Ohio really the midwest? Isn’t it more northeast? Whatever.
–Dan Weeks, another reporter who I think is supposed to be Seth’s rival or something.
–Stan Fisher, the head of the editorial department.
–Paul, some typesetter dude.
–Andy Sullivan, a college intern who’s a sophomore from Stanford. Darcy wants a piece of it. For some reason, Jess is content to just sit back and let Darcy go after all these hot dudes.
–Lawrence Robb, the editor-in-chief of the paper.
Um, has anyone else noticed the lack of estrogen on the newspaper staff? Darcy and the twins are the only females in the whole office, and they’re interns. I’m just sayin’.
Anyway, back to this crappy ass plot. Eric and Liz spend lots of time reading each other’s writing and Liz never mentions Jeffrey nor the fact that she is being a horrible cocktease. It’s clear Eric really likes her, especially after he tells her that Liz’s eyes remind him of the ocean. Um hello, you’ve only heard that from dudes who want you before, Liz. Like eighty other times. Yet Liz can’t bring herself to tell him about Jeffrey, even when it’s clear if she doesn’t, she’s probably going to cheat on Jeffrey while both he and Eric go on thinking they are the only ones in Liz’s life. She is just too strongly attracted to Eric and I wish she’d just give up and bone him already. Come on, you’re 16, get it out of your system and quit whining about it. Eric even wants to keep their friendship a secret which confuses Liz but pretty much gives her a free pass if you ask me. Hahaha. Eric and Liz go see a movie and then take a romantic walk on the beach and Eric tells her he’s been writing love poems about her. Liz tries to shush him but he kisses her finger instead. The chapter ends before we find out what happens next but I’m guessing a little roll in the sand was had. Maybe. This is Liz we’re talking about.
Meanwhile, Darcy continues to act like a seven-year-old around her crushes. She calls her friend Sue to see if she has any information about Eric, just because Sue just moved to Cleveland as well. Sue knows nothing, but says that a girl they knew has been found strangled to death in a parking lot. Jessica is still traumatized from having seen Laurie Forbes’s dead body in the last book and doesn’t want to hear anything about it. Later on, Darcy tries to get Jessica to ask Eric out to a Dodgers game for her, and Eric doesn’t take the bait, so Darcy throws a fit about how much he hates her. But then she changes her mind and goes ahead and throws herself at him yet again. She brags that she had to go to the ball game with some other dude named Ted McCarthy (which is a lie) and when it clearly doesn’t bother Eric, she doesn’t take the hint. This chick is crazy!!! She makes Jessica look like a model intern. When Darcy sees that Eric writes poetry, she cajoles him into saying the poems are for her. He stupidly just says they are, which makes no fucking sense, and then she fucking believes him, and this book is fucking ridiculous. Oh, it gets better. Darcy then grabs the book away from him while Eric is trying to work and tears one of his poems out. Eric is way too nice about it. I would totally smash a bitch if she tried to steal my writing. Darcy goes and shows the poem off to the twins and brags that Eric is in love with her and Liz feels sick and believes Darcy because she’s a fucking moron and gets mad at herself because she still can’t admit that Eric wants anything more from her than friendship, and I hate her and I hate this book. I think the same person who wrote Spring Fever wrote On the Run.
Liz starts avoiding Eric because that’s the way she handles shit, but then good old Ned goes ahead and invites Eric and his dad Rich over for a barbecue. Ned is working with Rich on some contract and Eric has been raving to his dad about Liz despite wanting to keep their friendship a secret. Ned announces this to the dinner table and Jessica tries to get Liz to tell her what’s going on, but Liz refuses. Then Darcy’s stupid friend Sue tells her that the police have released a composite sketch of the serial killer that they think killed her acquaintance in Ohio, named Christopher Wyeth, and it matches Eric’s description. Darcy and Jessica agree to start spying on Eric to see if he’s really Chris Wyeth. Yawn. I wish that he would murder both Liz and Darcy, but we’re obviously not going to be so lucky. Eric and Mr. Hankman come over for the barbecue, and the Wakefields’ neighbors the Beckwiths are there, and Mr. Beckwith keeps bugging Mr. Hankman about where he’s seen him before. I must say that it’s really annoying. Jessica is watching Eric like a hawk and noting all his strange behavior for Darcy while also trying to make sure that Liz isn’t going to get involved with Eric. Whatever Liz is telling herself, that ship has sailed.
Darcy convinces Jessica to dress up as Liz and go over to the Hankmans’ house to get Eric to give her his poetry notebook. They’re convinced it will say something in it about his being Chris Wyeth. Right, because he’d just hand it over to Liz if that were the case. Jessica leaves Eric’s house with the notebook having realized that Eric doesn’t just like Liz, he’s been seeing her. Two guys in a Mercedes chase after Jessica and harass her. One of them orders her to stop seeing Eric, knocks her bike over with her on it and steals Eric’s notebook from her. Jessica wants to tell the police, but crazy Darcy is intent on solving the case herself and getting all the glory for it, so she swears to Jessica to secrecy. Jessica agrees not to tell anyone even though she’s terrified Eric is going to kill her sister. Okay. Since when is Jessica this spineless? She is totally not herself in these books.
Liz goes off with Enid and Jessica goes to the Dairi Burger with a bunch of people. Eric Hankman shows up and learns from Aaron and Winston that Liz has a boyfriend. He freaks the fuck out and storms out of the restaurant. Then he stands Liz up for their date at the Beach Disco. Dramaaaaaa.
The book ends stupidly with the usual bumbling criminals that are supposed to terrify us. A little boy chokes nearly to death at the coffee shop where Eric works and Mr. Hankman has to save him with a tracheotomy thus revealing that he is a doctor. Then Mr. Beckwith shows up and realizes that Dr. Hankman is not just any doctor but Doctor Ryan, the one who testified against Frank DeLucca! That’s right, Mr. Beckwith just goes ahead and yells out Dr. Hankman’s identity in front of everyone and carries on about how he’s in the witness protection program and totally wrecks his life. Mr. Beckwith is a real fuckwad.
Dr. Ryan (Hankman) and his son flee the shop and Liz goes to their house and catches them packing. Eric reveals his real name is Michael Ryan and it turns out he has nothing to do with Chris Wyeth, who in fact has already been caught by the police. Eric and Liz confess their love for one another and Eric is literally a breath away from kissing Liz when …. ohmygod, three of DeLucca’s men bust in the house. One is the man who knocked Jess off her bike and the other is this FBI agent who followed Liz and questioned her. Oh I’m sorry, did I forget to mention that? It’s because I don’t give a crap about this dumb book. Dr. Ryan, Michael, and Liz are held at gunpoint and the criminals send Liz and Michael upstairs while they question Dr. Ryan. Even though for all they know, there could well be a phone up there they could use to call the police. WTF!!!! STUPID FUCKING CRIMINALS Liz magically finds an alarm system called the Good Neighbor System and pushes the button to alert their neighbors. And the neighbors show up and somehow tackle three gun-wielding mobsters without anyone getting hurt or any shots even being fired. The police show up and Dr. Ryan praises Liz for showing him that people really are good and they do care and will try to help you … wow. I’m glad to know a 16-year-old is, once again, able to teach adults such important life lessons. And that Liz gets all the credit when the neighbors are the ones who saved the Ryans.
Eric and Liz say a tearful goodbye and blather on about how much they love one another and then the Ryans pack off and leave Sweet Valley with new identities once again. I don’t think Eric ever kisses Liz, but her problem of whether or not to tell Jeffrey that she pretty much cheated on him is now solved! And Eric leaves his notebook with Liz and she reads his poems to her and cries. WAaaaaaaah
The cover: Liz doesn’t look half-bad. She looks kind of beautiful. Jessica looks way older than Liz, and why is she always grabbing at Liz’s arm like that? Totally unnatural poses like usual.
Other shit: Besides Whitehead, Greenwood Academy is another private school mentioned in this book. Amy and Jessica want to meet hot guys that go there at the Beach Disco. So now we know there’s Bridgewater, Greenwood, Whitehead, and some others I can’t remember right now. Apparently Sweet Valley is surrounded by fucking private schools and yet we are supposed to believe that rich people like the Patmans, the Fowlers, and the Morrows want their children to go to public school.
“Honey, can you toss the salad for me?” -Alice Wakefield. Gold
The Beckwiths have a son named Jack who lives in San Francisco. We’ve heard of the Beckwiths numerous times before, but never this dude. I’m guessing Jeffrey is off hooking up with him instead of being a camp counselor. Sorry, I gotta keep this stuff interesting.
Liz asks Jess, “Since when do you barge into my room without knocking?” Um, in every book?
Enid has a cat named Muffy. Hahaha. Muffy destroys a note Jessica left at the Rollins’s for Liz in which she told her to stay away from Eric.
Darcy worries that she looks too “voluptuous” in a dress and Jessica is like, well, she is pretty curvy but she actually looks good. On what planet are the words “voluptuous” and “curvy” bad?
Regarding her sneaking around with Eric, Liz thinks that all this would-be cheating is brand new for her and that “she had never really been in this kind of situation before.” Keep telling yourself that, Liz, and we’ll ignore your little tryst with Nicholas Morrow that stretched on forever … not to mention your sneaking out to meet Alex Parker back in Kansas while your relationship with Jeffrey was still brand-new.
And I just realized that Forbes was not Laurie’s last name in the last book. It was in fact Hamilton. Wow, way to go editors. I think someone else’s name in Double Jeopardy was Forbes though … like her grandfather’s … I don’t give a fuck, what am I saying?
Liz makes me want to PUKE. First she babbles on and on about how grateful Darcy and Jessica should be to work for the newspaper. Bla bla bla, shut up! Then she spends half the book talking patronizingly about both how good people are and how Sweet Valley is a perfect paradise on earth, where unicorns and fairies and magic exist and everyone is happy all the time! Even after they have witnessed a murder or been kidnapped a few dozen times! She even tries to convince the Ryans (Hankmans) that they should stay even after their identity is exposed because it’s so perfect that everyone would always try to help keep them safe. Who cares about gun-wielding mobsters when you have the Wakefields on your side? Shut up ya little twat. Just shut up!
Next up: Some stupid Robin Wilson drama.