Sweet Valley Twins #96: Elizabeth the Spy
Title: Elizabeth the Spy
Tagline: Hands up! It’s a robbery!
Summary: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are witnesses to an armed robbery! Though the crook was disguised as a clown, all the evidence points to Joe Carrey as the culprit. Elizabeth can’t believe it! Joe is the ice cream scooper at Casey’s, and he’s one of the nicest people she’s ever met.
Then Elizabeth investigates more deeply and finds a clue that just doesn’t fit. It’s enough to convince her that Joe Carrey is innocent. But can Elizabeth convince the jury?
Criminals and intrigue and trials and shit.
Looks like there’s been a robbery at a store committed by a clown, not to be confused with a Robbery at the Mall committed by a chicken. Excellent work there, plot manatees!
I’ve enjoyed a fair few of the Plucky Girl Detectives books, so I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.
[Dove: At this point, I am so over the Plucky Girl Detectives books. I think no crime gets solved in Sweet Valley without Elizabeth being involved.] [Wing: Wasn’t the very first Plucky Girl Detective story driven by Jessica?]
Might as well get this out there now.
This one disappointed. Big time. For a host of reasons upon which I will expand in the narrative below. That’s what you’re here for, after all.
Still, I’m going to set out one reason I dislike this book…
It’s because this book is a direct rip-off of an episode of The Simpsons. Season 1, Episode 12, Krusty Gets Busted. This episode was aired in 1990, while Elizabeth the Spy was published in 1996.
I won’t reveal the parallels of the plots until the very end, (thirty-year-old spoilers are still spoilers, I guess), but I’m sure some of you have already drawn the same conclusions.
I will, however, lead with this:
And now we return to our scheduled programme.
[Dove: When I was converting this book to an ebook, words kept popping out at me before I even read it. I’ve only seen the first few seasons of The Simpsons, but even I had to go, “Raven, I think this book ripped off that Simpsons episode…”]
We start at Casey’s Place, where the denouement of the previous book has placed a now-inexplicable gaggle of girls together. Unicorns, Team Boring, Cats and Dogs living together oh my.
The girls are enjoying milkshakes. Thankfully, there’s no Steven to enjoy luscious lines such as this:
Elizabeth felt the cool, thick liquid slide down her throat.
… and this:
“Is there anybody who doesn’t want their cherry?” Lila Fowler demanded.
That second one in particular is pure filth on the part of the ghostie, I guarantee it. [Wing: I could get behind an older Lila going around and collecting people’s cherries.]
We have a little discourse regarding the strength and nature of Elizabeth and Jessica’s differing friends and personalities, as we always do at around Page 3 of each book.
Then, we meet Joe Carrey, the handsome college student that often works at Casey’s Place on a part-time basis. At least, he does this according to Book 96 of the series, as it’s the first time he’s been fucking mentioned. But the girls all love him as an old friend. [Dove: Untrue! We had that very comprehensive lead-in from the last book where Joe is inexplicably thoughtful and Elizabeth feels that Something. Is. Wrong. And given how this book pans out, there’s no way his frown in the last book has anything to do with this one.] [Wing: Must be money troubles considering he’s one of the small number of poor people in Sweet Valley. It’s always money troubles with them. Money troubles and stealing VCRs.]
Joe adds to Lila’s slightly mushed cherry with two more cherries, which is apparently “typical Joe”. We also learn that he mows lawns around the neighbourhood, and volunteers as a clown at schools and hospitals. I guess the ghostie has to cram a lot of informed attributes into the following section to make us care about the unveiling plot. So far, no dice.
Elizabeth goes as far as to say that Joe is probably the reason these disparate girls are all sitting together, as they all want to spend time with him. Nothing to do with the fact that they were all on the Honeybees in the last book, dear me no.
Joe also has another talent: a ten-inch penis!
Nope, he’s a whizz at Brainteasers!
He shares one with the gaggling throng, much to Lila’s disdain. Apparently, there are two children born on the same day, identical in every way. Same mother. They are not, however, twins. Why?
After some asinine banter and questions, the answer is revealed. There’s a third sibling. The three of them are triplets. And of course, it’s Elizabeth who comes up with the right answer.
Joe is pleased with the answer, as it just goes to show that “things aren’t always what they seem.” OF COURSE THEY ARE NOT. BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THE PLOT HAPPENS.
We then meet the other new person in this book, the dastardly Jeff Casey. He’s the nephew of Old Man Casey, owner and proprietor of Casey’s Place. Jeff is, not to mince words, a cunt.
As Joe tries to ply the girls with more brainteasers, Jeff demands that he stop slacking and get to work.
Scowling, Jeff rattled a tray. “Forget puzzles! We got customers here!”
Jessica looked around the room. Customers? she thought. She could see two old men sitting by the window, and a college student studying on the other side of the room. That was it.
Sorry Jessica, but that, technically, is customers.
Jeff further cements his antagonist status by banging a table and commanding things be cleaned. What an asshole! Y’know, whatever happens in this book, I reckon Jeff is the one behind it all.
The girls rally around their handsome college-aged flirt, and order further ice cream sweetbreads so Joe can remain with them a little longer. As Jeff scowls on, Elizabeth asks about Joe’s next clowning gig. Apparently, it’s in two days at the day care centre. Will this be important? Who can tell?
With a shout, Jeff sends a metaphorical boot up Joe’s ass, and there’s a line break.
We cut to… a few minutes later (wtf?). Elizabeth has a brainteaser, and already I’m sick to fucking death of this sideline schtick nonsense. [Wing: I kind of love the brainteasers part of the plot. Yes, these are not great, but they’re young, I’ll give them a pass. It’s the gateway to full blown logic puzzles, and that’s always a good path to take.]
“A man comes into an ice cream parlor at almost twelve o’clock,” she said in her spookiest voice. “He isn’t carrying a flashlight, and he doesn’t turn on any lights. But … he doesn’t touch the light switch. And yet somehow he’s able to make a double-scoop mint chocolate chip and coffee ice cream cone in less than thirty seconds.”
More mindless faffery in which the girls somehow avoid the obvious fact that it was twelve midday rather than twelve midnight. Joe pips up with an idiotic question about whether the ice cream flavours matter, which so surprises Elizabeth that she spins in shock and stomps heavily on his left foot.
“Oh, Joe, I’m so sorry! Are you all right?”
“Just fine.” Joe didn’t even move as Elizabeth climbed back onto her stool. “No big deal.”
He didn’t even flinch! Wow! IS THIS IMPORTANT? WHO CAN POSSIBLY TELL!
Jeff pipes in. At first he seems like he’s playing along, but then he becomes a wank pheasant again. He warns Joe never to come to the shop at midnight and steal ice cream, because that’s a sensible response to this situation. I mean, what a ridiculous thing to be concerned about. I get that Jamie Suzanne has to make Jeff out to be the big Twatarooskie, but this is ham-fisted shite.
Elizabeth slightly sasses back at Jeff, before Maria solves the riddle – yep, it’s midday. The crowd marvel about the mesmerising and misdirectional effect of adopting a spooky voice when telling the time.
Lila sticks with her insistence that the whole Brainteaser thing would be much more interesting if the puzzles were about aliens. Apparently Johnny Buck is adopting an alien baby, according to a Swiss newspaper. Standard. [Dove: While I appreciate Lila being disagreeable, this kind of comment is more suited to Ellen.]
Joe congratulates Elizabeth on her Brainteaser. Jeff scowls in the background. The chapter ends.
Hello there. It’s Raven from the future. You think 2020 sucks? Man, just wait until 2022. [Wing: Damn it, Raven. You’ve cursed us all.]Anyway, to business!
From this point on in the book, there’s pretty much no input from any of the peripheral characters. Which SUCKS BALLS.
Sure, Lila chimes in on the phone from time to time, and I think there’s another scene at Casey’s. But other than that, it’s just all Elizabeth, all the time. Even Jessica doesn’t get much to do.
I know they are the titular heroines, but I always hope to get a little more of the Sweet Valley world in each book. Not so much in this one.
Well, I guess we get to meet Joe. And Jeff. Pretty sure they won’t feature heavily in the series going forward.
Elizabeth is reading the latest Christine Davenport book. Apparently, the plucky girl detective is looking to help someone called Jay Carroll (really?), who is having money problems. Apparently, the fictional Jay has a rich aunt who has not been seen for a while, and Christine suggests that Jay pay her a visit.
I presume this is important stuff somewhere down the line.
Jessica dashes in with a… female emergency. Apparently, the Wakefield Household is completely out of sanitary napkins, and the twins need to get to the pharmacy immediately to restock before Jessica explodes like a bad special effect in gore movie.
I’ve enjoyed precisely NOTHING in this book so far.
Randomly, Jessica pulls a sweater out of Elizabeth’s closet and pulls it on before they go. Strangely, it has Elizabeth’s initials on it, but Jessica wears it anyway. Sorry, but I don’t care how excrementally vital her need for sanitary products is, she’d not be seen dead labelled as Elizabeth.
They get to the drugstore, and it’s pretty much deserted due to the fact that it’s the middle of the night (or the middle of the day, but spoken in a spooky voice). Jessica grabs a box of extra-absorbent maxipads and tries to persuade Elizabeth to buy them on her behalf. I guess it’s cute that she’s embarrassed about buying them…? Young boys (men) have an analogue…
Liz no-ma’am’s the idea, but offers to stand with Jess as she buys them herself. They join the queue behind a woman in a white jogging suit. Maybe she’s also buying maxipads, as white jogging suits are all the rage in women buying sanitary product, if you believe the TV advertisements. [Dove: No. It’s white hot pants. Women in sanitary pad adverts live life on the edge.] [Raven: Totally.] [Wing: I finally saw an ad that did not use the typical blue liquid when showing off how absorbent a pad was. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which brand it was for, but if I see it again, I’ll try to remember to mention it in another recap.]
As the woman leaves, Jessica steps back to leave plenty of room. In doing so, she kicks someone stood behind her firmly in the shin.[Wing: …if she’s taking a big step back, how the fuck does she kick him in the shin?]
Startled, Jessica turned around—and let out a low gasp.
A clown stood behind her, grabbing his leg in pain and hopping up and down.
The clown snarls at Jessica and barks a threat. Jess steps forward to buy her Implements of Shame, before all hell breaks loose. Elizabeth is pushed roughly to the floor, and Jessica drops to her knees in shock. The clown has a gun, and this is a motherfucking robbery!
The clown commands the no-longer-bored clerk to empty the till and empty his pockets. Elizabeth is scared, but does her best to memorise the clown’s outfit in the best Plucky Girl Detective style.
The clown, now replete with ill-gotten booty, demands the collected “hostages” count to one hundred as he flees, giving him ample time to make his escape. He bolts, with a honk of his horn and a spray from his lapel flower. The clerk begins a powerless count.
The twins console themselves in their fear… and Elizabeth comes to the grim realisation that she’s seen that clown costume before.
COULD IT BE JOE’S CLOWN COSTUME, BY ANY CHANCE?!
We cut to Chapter 3. The twins are being questioned at the police station, as they wait for the Elder Wakefields to come collect them.
Erm… I’m sorry? Two pre-teens being questioned about the details of a harrowing armed robbery without a responsible adult present? That’s all kinds of shady shit right there. [Wing: This is Sweet Valley where Ned Wakefield can practice every type of law ever. In fact, I’m surprised he doesn’t volunteer to be Joe’s defense lawyer.]
Jessica is pretty good at recalling the detail of the affair, especially when it comes to the clown’s outfit. Elizabeth should be good at this too, right? We’ve been told that she both studied the clown in action and that she thinks she’s seen it somewhere before (*cough*JOE*cough).
But no. Elizabeth is somewhat evasive.
“How can you not remember it?” [Jessica demanded.]
Elizabeth shrugged. “I just—forgot the details,” she said slowly.
Jessica snorted. “You, of all people!”
So much bullshit. Even Jessica calls her on it.
Before they let them go, the police show the twins the security footage from the store during the robbery. Jess is immediately charmed, as she believes this will make them stars. Never change, Jess.
Unfortunately for her dreams of stardom, Jess feels that she looks a proper state on the grainy security footage. Vacant stare, messy hair, baggy sweater. [Dove: Not judging. If you have to run out at an unsociable hour to buy sanitary pads, this is the default look.] [Wing: But why is the sweater baggy? It doesn’t seem like something Elizabeth would have and especially not something Jessica would borrow.] But by far the worst crime against coolness is the fact that Jessica is clearly armed with a box of maxipads, a box that takes front-and-centre of the security footage like a beacon of mortifying horror. Hey, at least she was literally disguised as Elizabeth, in a sweater labelled EW.
Elizabeth is strangely pleased that the clown isn’t too recognisable. And she can’t remember the colours of his costume, which isn’t captured on the grainy black and white video. Thankfully, Jessica CAN remember the details, and begins filling them in for the policeman. Elizabeth catches her sister’s eye and shakes her head frantically.
Elizabeth, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!
Look, I get it that you likely believe that someone as nice as Joe can’t POSSIBLY be an armed robber, but COME THE FUCK ON. You’re lying to the police, and omitting vital evidence, based on what? A fucking FEELING?
This is not in Elizabeth’s character AT ALL.
I don’t care how right she believes her belief to be, she wouldn’t simply not answer police questions, or lie to the police directly.
Bad, bad show.
I suppose it’s time to post another still from Krusty Gets Busted…
We skip to the next day, and Elizabeth is reading the next section of her Christine Davenport novel. Jay Carrol (NOT Joe Carrey) has been arrested for the murder of his rich aunt! Apparently there’s some dubious circumstantial evidence that points a shaky finger in his direction. But nothing concrete. Either way, he’s in police custody.
Christine Davenport, of course, is unconvinced of his guilt.
“The obvious suspect is not always the true criminal,” Christine said firmly.
As Elizabeth cheers for the developing plot in her novel, the news anchor on her TV blares the, well, news… there’s been an arrest in the Pharmacy Holdup case from the previous day.
Jessica and Elizabeth watch for more details, and sure enough, it appears that good ol’ sexy ice cream guy Joe Carrey is the detained party.
OH HOW LIFE IMITATES ART!
And oh how art imitates The Simpsons.
Elizabeth, in particular, is dumbstruck. Jessica, of course, remains pragmatic.
“Not Joe!” Elizabeth swallowed hard. “Take it back!” she implored the anchorwoman. Say it’s all a joke! Say you didn’t really mean it!
“Joe?” A look of surprise crossed Jessica’s face. “Wow! I guess—” Slowly she shook her head. “I guess you just never know.”
Attagirl, Jess. Don’t believe Joe’s hype.
Elizabeth bolts from the room in almost-tears, because she CARES DEEPLY about this brainteasering pricktip that we’ve only just heard about. GOD this book is shit.
It’s now Chapter 4, and the girls are all sat at Casey’s. Behind the counter? The evil Jeff “I am the true armed robber” Casey.
Elizabeth orders a strawberry milkshake, and Jeff shake-shames her for ordering a kiddie drink. I mean, WHAT THE FUCK? First, there’s nowt wrong with a strawberry milkshake – it’s a classic for a reason – and second, it’s almost insulting that the ghostie is resorting to such cack-handed flap-slapping character “development” straight out of Bobby’s Big Book of Villain Clichés. “Oooh, look at Jeff, he’s a baaaaad maaaan.” I’m surprised there’s no moustache to twiddle. [Dove: Before I became allergic to the delight that is milkshakes, strawberry was my flavour of choice. Fuck off, Jeff. And also Joe, because I literally don’t care.] [Wing: Have I mentioned I hate false-accusation stories? Because I hate them even when they’re done well, and I extra hate them when they’re done poorly.]
Jeff also short-serves the girls, being evil through maximising profits over customer satisfaction. Elizabeth, in a sentence that hits PEAK ENTITLEMENT, really pisses me off with this:
Seizing a glass from the shelf, [Jeff] spooned ice cream into it. Elizabeth’s face fell. Joe would have given me more, she thought sorrowfully.
Yeah, that’s the reason that proves he’s not a wrongun. Because he gives you more ice cream than the other guy. [Dove: Wait. So the good guy is the adult male who entices twelve year old girls with sweeties? And the bad guy just serves them what they paid for and offers no further engagement? #The80s, I guess.] [Wing: Except this is #the90s. Still super sketchy, though. Maybe there was too much Stranger Danger in Sweet Valley schools and they never learned they were far more likely to be in danger from someone they know. Actually, what with Nydick running around, that’s exactly what would have happened at SVMS.] We also discover that Jeff doesn’t clean up after customers either. Another crime. And when Amy asks for more whipped cream, because “Joe gives me more cream than this,” Jeff tells her to strongly do one.
I mean COME THE FUCK ON.
[Wing: Ghostie has to be intentionally fucking with readers when it comes to all this Joe giving them extra cherries and whipped cream and such, right? Which, actually, Friends did in the first episode (which aired in 1994), an entire conversation where Joey compares women to ice cream, so ghostie, you really are just pulling from pop culture for this book, aren’t you.]
The girls discuss the news about Joe, with Jeff listening on and scoffing. Joe, apparently, was tagged as a loser by Jeff the moment he met him.
Elizabeth has to ask for a straw, and Jeff tosses her one… “without bothering to unwrap it.”
FUCKING HELL, CALL THE POLICE BECAUSE YOU’VE GOT TO UNWRAP YOUR OWN GODDAMN STRAW. [Dove: Wut? You mean Jeff’s method is more hygienic and… that’s a bad thing?] [Wing: On the one hand, right? I don’t even like it when Ostrich unwraps my straw. On the other hand, there are still places where you get straws that aren’t wrapped at all. Gross.]
The sheer level of entitlement in this book astonishes me. I know that Americans are very particular about service levels in a way that’s foreign to the rest of the world, but this is petty bullshit. I’d say I’d love to see a story with the twins in France, receiving the famous French levels of customer service, but we all know that their foray into the Land of Cheese didn’t exactly Can-Can down my Champs Elysees.
Everyone, it seems believes that Joe is probably guilty. It was his clown suit, which was found at his apartment by the police. And Joe has no alibi, as he was just sat at home all night by himself.
Jessica lies to the crowd and claims she almost tripped the robber instead of hoofing him in the leg. Standard Jessica. Elizabeth continues bemoaning the fact that her Milkshake Experience at Casey’s Place is much worse under the Jeff Regime.
She set the straw right in the middle of her milk shake and watched it fall slowly to the side. If Joe had made this shake, she thought sadly, it’d be so thick that the straw would stay perfectly upright. If Joe were still working here.
I am SO ANGRY with this fucking book. It’s atrocious. [Wing: I’m enjoying the innuendos quite a bit, and the brainteasers in the beginning. That’s about it.]
The girls continue to wax on the facts of the case. Jessica now believes that Joe was always suspicious, because he “always wore the same clothes” (presumably his Casey’s uniform, which admittedly did make me laugh), and because he knows brainteasers. Because we all know the standard progression in the creation of a burgeoning criminal:
- Lonely childhood
- Love of puzzles
- Serial murder
[Wing: IT ME! (Kidding, I have too many siblings to have had a lonely childhood even if I never made a single friend. The other two, though, spot on.)]
Liz, in a frothing frenzy of self-righteous ire, declares that she knows that Joe is innocent, and she’s going to prove it, evidence be damned! Because? Because she wants her thick-ass milkshakes back, damnit! [Wing: With the boys in the yard.]
We snap to the Wakefield Compound as the twins return from Caseys, and stumble across Steven eating his second lunch at two-fifteen: a peanut butter and salami sandwich. OH HOW KOOKY!
For some reason, Steven is also dead keen on brainteasers this week. Through mouthfuls of his lunch, which is as ANNOYING AS HOT BALLS, he waffles on about grandmothers and doctors and ice creams and shit, and my GOD I really hate this book. [Dove: It really has to be read to be believed. Every third word is punctuated by a sexual moan of pleasure from Steven. So he’s back to “boy who eats”. They don’t even mention basketball. He’s lost one of his two defining traits.] [Wing: I miss the last book so much.]
Elizabeth flounces off, because talk of strawberry ice cream and brainteasers remind her of Joe too much (FUCK OFF). Jess tells a confused Steven that Elizabeth is out of sorts because she believes Joe is innocent of the armed robbery at the pharmacy.
Then Steven utters the line that makes me want to throw this book into the fucking sea. Seriously, I almost noped out at this point.
“Oh, that’s right, you guys were there, weren’t you?” Steven sat up a little straighter. “I forgot.”
You FORGOT THAT YOUR SISTERS WERE INVOLVED IN A FUCKING ARMED ROBBERY A FEW DAYS EARLIER?!
WHY ISN’T MORE BEING MADE OF THIS? THE TWINS WERE HELD AT GUNPOINT BY AN ARMED ROBBER, AND NOBODY GIVES A PIMPLY SHIT.
Nothing from Alice. Nothing from Ned. Nothing from the twin’s brother, or friends. NOTHING.
[Dove: Oh, hai! Remember when Jessica woke up in time for an earthquake and became a school celebrity for recounting a minute of seismic activity to the school over and over and over (and embelishing, obv)? Yeah, apparently it’s far easier to become popular recounting a tale that has no tangible evidence, rather than being a literal eye witness to a gun-point crime?]
Is America so laissez-faire about gun crime that Sweet Valley can just toss this ARMED ROBBERY that saw MINORS IN PERIL into the “ah well, sucks I guess, happens to everyone though right?” [Wing: I mean…]
This is SUCH BULLSHIT. And it’s phoned in, plagarised, LAZY bullshit. The ghost writer should be ashamed.
Steven asks what Jessica was at the pharmacy to buy, because THAT’S important you fucking cleft, and she deflects him because she can’t let anyone know that she’s human. [Wing: Oh, I thought he knew and was picking at her because of what it was.]
Cutting to Elizabeth’s room, she’s reading more of her Christine Davenport book and pondering the doctors / grandmothers brainteaser (which she solves, obviously). Christine, it seems, is in a similar situation to Elizabeth. OH WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?
Here’s the text from the supposed mystery novel.
Of course, Jay couldn’t possibly have played a role in his aunt’s death, Christine told herself. No matter what evidence there was against him, there must be some other explanation.
“River City police.” The voice sounded weary.
Christine gripped the phone. “Yes,” she said in a steely voice. “I must speak to the detective in charge of the Jay Carroll case—immediately.”
“I’m afraid that’s impossible,” came the reply.
“Nothing is impossible.” Christine drew herself up to her full height. “I demand to speak to the detective right away, or else I shall have to inform your supervisor. The force has made a serious mistake. Did I make it clear that my name is Christine Davenport?”
“Ah.” There was a scuffling noise, and suddenly a new voice came on the line. “Detective Scott here, Miss Davenport. How may I help you?”
Fucking hell, Christine Davenport has gone FULL KAREN here. How depressingly entitled. [Dove: As ever, I was under the impression that she’s the same age as the twins. I feel like she’s been described as such. Wing says she’s Nancy Drew age (uh? 16-18?), and recently there was reference to Christine driving, so Wing’s probably right. Even so, fuck off, child.] [Wing: I think Nancy was 16 originally and then aged up to 18 in reprints, but yeah, still a FULL KAREN CHILD here. Of course, Nancy Drew would also be able to call in, drop her own name, and get the info she wants.]
Elizabeth thinks that this line of enquiry is full-on spiffing, and vows to call the police as soon as possible and demand answers. Because she is Elizabeth Wakefield, and that name carries weight around the mean streets of Sweet Valley.
Give me a fucking break. This is a parody, right? Am I spectacularly missing the point here?
“Sweet Valley police,” a perky voice said. “How may I direct your call?”
Elizabeth doesn’t manage to channel Christine Davenport’s steely resolve, as she has no spine of her own. However, as this is apparently real life and not a novel, Elizabeth is put through to the detective in charge anyway.
At least, she thinks she is being put through. In reality, she’s first diverted to, well, no one, and then she’s accidentally disconnected. Then, on a re-ring, she gets put through to an answering machine.
Eventually, she gets put through to Detective Holmes (wow… “PC Copper McBlueline here”). He’s eating a candy bar. Well, at least it’s not a doughnut.
Elizabeth decrees that the police have made a mistake in the Joe Carrey case. The policeman takes this rather well, and asks who’s calling. Loud and proud, she declares that she is Elizabeth Wakefield. He doesn’t give a monkey’s fuck, but humours her anyway. [Dove: And delightfully calls her “Wickfield”. Have that, you entitled brat.] What reason does she have to believe there’s been a miscarriage of justice thus far?
Elizabeth felt herself turning red. “Umm—I know Joe Carrey, like, really well, and he’s this really, really nice guy—”
This is given short shrift, but the scene ends with Liz asking what evidence they have that he’d committed the crime (no gun, no money), with the police retort being “did you find any evidence that he didn’t do it?”
Whatever happened to Innocent Until Proven Guilty, policeman? [Wing: He’s a cop in the US, so, well, I mean…]
No luck with the police… Elizabeth turns to Plan B.
Snap cut to Elizabeth at Casey’s Place, with Old Man Casey lamenting over poor Joe’s descent into crime. Apparently, he loves Joe like a son, and was planning to turn the store over to him when he retired?
First up, have we heard of Old Man Casey before? Probably. I have a vague recollection. [Dove: Yes. Multiple times. Most recently, he shouted at Brooke’s group after IN littered his parking lot and blamed them. But yes, he pops up every so often.] [Raven: I never remember him as an old man, just as Casey the owner. Huh. My bad, I guess.] [Wing: Same, actually. I was surprised to learn he’s ready to retire.]
But why the fuck is he ready to turn over his store to a part-time college kid employee? The kid’s in college. He has dreams of his own, old man.
And is that how a mall-based ice cream shop lease works? The guy retires, and can pass the metaphorical torch to whomever he sees fit? [Dove: So… he’s not selling it. Just gifting it to whoever is employed there that isn’t in jail? What the fuck is his retirement plan?] [Raven: The only thing I can think of is that he remains the owner and Joe becomes the manager. A step up, but not really what’s been written.]
This has not been thought through. Standard for this ghostie.
Despite his lamenting, Old Man Casey believes that Joe committed the crime. He needed money, he had a clown suit… there’s literally NO OTHER EXPLANATION.
Elizabeth believes there is another explanation.
Next, she’s at the University library, looking for someone who knows Joe. She speaks to part-time librarian Wendy, who sort of knows him from a few years earlier. She spills the beans on her one-time chum, and here’s a list of what we learn:
- He used to ride a big blue motorbike
- He wore surfer shorts exclusively
- He was on a full track scholarship, and could run and run
- Then summer break hit, and he disappeared.
- After a year, he came back, having quit his scholarship and taken up two new jobs, including Casey’s.
So. Life-changing event happened over summer. But what could it be?!
[Wing: No lie, with the description of how he rode that motorcycle around campus and the surfer shorts everywhere thing, track!Joe sounds like a jackass.]
Next chapter, and Elizabeth wakes Steven at an apparent ungodly hour to slam him with another brainteaser. This is apparently so exciting, that Steven drags himself out of his pit in order to partake. History proves that adolescent boys are MAD for brainteasers, so this is believable. Any my eyes are rolling so hard, if they rolled any deeper I’d be Adele.
Turns out that Elizabeth’s ‘Brainteaser’ is in fact her describing the pertinent information from the Joe Carrey case, which is a shitty way to get your brother involved against his will. Steven offers up some decent ideas, if you couch them in the Brainteaser mould. Did he owe tons of money? Was he involved with an international spy ring? Was he stealing track equipment and selling it? That sort of shit. Eventually, Elizabeth admits that the Brainteaser has no answer.
Next thing, Elizabeth and Jessica are on their way to visit Joe in the Sweet Valley Jail.
Where are their parents? In what world is this acceptable? And in what world would two eleven-year-olds be able to just rock up to a prison and ask to have some visiting time with a prisoner?
They get to the prison, and manage to convince the check-in clerk (admissions person?) that they have the right to speak to Joe. It’s actually quite clever how Elizabeth deceives everyone in this way:
“Only relatives are allowed to visit. You relatives?” Her eyes darted from Elizabeth to Jessica and back.
“I knew we should never have come,” Jessica hissed, turning around. She wouldn’t be sorry to leave this spooky old place.
“Shh!” Elizabeth gave her a dirty look. Turning back to the guard and changing her expression to a smile, she spoke loudly. “Yes, we’re relatives.”
“We are?” Jessica felt a jolt of surprise. Her sister never lied about anything.
Elizabeth laughed lightly. “Of course we’re relatives!” she said, carefully separating every word. “Aren’t we, Jess?”
“But—” Jessica began. Then all at once she understood. Yeah, we’re relatives, all right, she told herself. We’re not Joe’s relatives, but we’re relatives.
The ghostie gets points for this one, I suppose, although it’s much more a Jessica idea than an Elizabeth one.
The Twins meet a dishevelled and dispirited Joe in a disgusting prison visiting room. He greets them through the screen with lifeless eyes, but for some reason isn’t surprised they’re there. [Dove: Imagine how weird that would be. Let’s all cast our mind back to working retail. Now, imagine getting arrested and one of your many regular customers that you always make polite chit-chat with rocks up. How fucking weird is that? You don’t have a personal relationship with them, they’re just faces you get to know. Nice people, sure. And you give that extra bit of help because they’re nice, but you’re not friends. But they show up to visit you in jail.] [Wing: And they are a decade or so younger than you. Don’t forget that part.]
Joe asks if Jeff is treating them well, and Jessica complains about Jeff’s lacklustre ice cream sprinkle service, and again the book is a hair’s breadth away from being thrown into the fucking sea. Elizabeth asks Joe why he quit the track team, as she has a hunch that this knowledge will be the key that breaks this case wide open. Joe tells her that he doesn’t want to discuss it, as we’re only in Chapter 6 and we need to build suspense a little longer. [Dove: … And then that same weirdly obsessed customer, with whom you have no personal relationship, asks you about your life choices that took you from college to retail. JUST FUCK OFF, ELIZABETH.]
Eventually, Elizabeth promises she’ll get Joe out of this awful place. She’s positive he’s innocent.
You know what really pisses me off about this book?
It’s not the fact that Elizabeth is operating wildly out of character, nor is it because we’re being forced to champion some random dude we’ve never heard of and get behind his release and redemption. It’s not because we see virtually zero input from the sideline characters we all love. Hell, it’s not even because it’s a rip-off of a fucking Simpsons episode.
It’s because at the end of it, we all know Elizabeth will be proven right.
She’s got nothing – NOTHING – to base her decision on. She’s acting like an entitled waste of skin. The ghostie is asking us to support her stance, without putting in the required work to make it happen. It’s badly-written, insulting and crass.
We all know where it’s going to end up, with Joe free and Elizabeth jubilant. And, quite frankly, that sort of ending will be undeserved, and actually undermined by the shoddiness that precedes it.
I hate this book.
Back at the Wakefield Compound, after the prison trip, Elizabeth reads more Christine Davenport. In the novel that’s running parallel to the plot, we are introduced to Chauncey Bleecker, a hideous character that looks to inherit the dead aunt’s estate if Jay is found guilty of her murder. Christine Davenport believes he’s an unsavoury brute and decides to follow him.
Elizabeth thus decides that someone is out to frame Joe, someone who would look to gain something from Joe’s removal. After a little umming and ahhing, she realises it’s Jeff, as he’d likely inherit the store from Old Man Casey in Joe’s absence.
OF COURSE IT’S FUCKING JEFF! He’s the only other new character in the book? Who else is it gonna be? Fucking Ellen?
(Now THAT would be a twist!)
[Wing: Can you imagine an ice cream parlour owned by Ellen? I have hearts and stars in my eyes thinking about it.]
Next chapter, back at Casey’s Place, and it seems that Elizabeth is surveilling Jeff as he works the counter. She nurses a drink for ninety minutes and watches him, as he grown more and more belligerent with her presence. He also demands she order something else, so I guess this was before the days of unlimited refills. [Wing: Unlikely, at least here.]
Elizabeth moans to herself that spying is boring work (hang on, why the hell is this book called Elizabeth the Spy? Talk about writing a cheque that the text can’t cash…. Weak as fuck [Dove: That was going to be my question. Wouldn’t Detective Elizabeth be more suitable? And perfectly in keeping with the blandapalooza that is Sweet Valley book titles.]). In her surveillance, Jeff has done precisely nothing suspicious.
An older boy and girl enter the store, classmates of her brother named Johnny Gordon and Melanie Northrop.
“Help you?” Jeff barked.
Johnny spoke first. “This the place where that Joe Carrey guy was working?” he asked. Beside him, Melanie leaned closer to the counter.
“You mean Joe Carrey-the-money-away?” Jeff’s lips twisted into a tight grin. “Joe knows theft!” he chanted in a silly voice. “Joe knows clown suits! Joe knows getting caught!”
That’s some weak-ass comedy right there. I guess the “Joe Knows” repetition is from a commercial of the day, or something? [Wing: I can find nothing on it, but it sounds like some sort of lawyer commercial.]
Jeff dishes the dirt on the apparently felonious employee, as Elizabeth watches on in anger.
Jeff takes a phone call in the back room, then eventually asks his uncle Old Man Casey if he can leave for the day. OMC acquiesces, so Jeff tosses his apron on the floor and McMahons out the door.
Elizabeth trails him.
For the next couple of paragraphs, I guess we have the spying portion of the book. Elizabeth follows Jeff as he completes the following tasks:
- Crossing streets
- Pausing to admire a hot air balloon in the sky
- Walking home
And that’s it. Nothing untoward or sinister, unless you think balloon appreciation somehow qualifies.
Elizabeth heads to the pharmacy, but sits on the curb in front of the store. She has the self-awareness to admit that she is unlikely to find a smoking gun or a cryptic clue just lying in the gutter outside the door. What she does find, however, is Amy, who accompanies her to Casey’s Place for an ice cream soda. [Wing: Because it’s not weird at all that Elizabeth was just there.]
At Casey’s, we get another fucking Brainteaser. This one is about two brothers, Ray and Clay, both identical twins. The only difference in looks was that one had a bald spot, and the other a birthmark on one hand. Their mother came to watch them do something, but couldn’t tell them apart. Why?
Elizabeth gets it. Apparently it’s because they were training in Baseball. They both wore a cap and a baseball glove. My guess was that they were shovelling snow, and wearing hats and gloves. In fact, there are loads of “correct” answers to this one. Although apparently in baseball, only the left hand is covered? So I guess they could both be doing Michael Jackson cosplay. [Wing: Well, the birthmark is on the left hand, and so long as they were right handed, they would have the glove on their left hand.]
As Elizabeth is lost in thought about the case, considering that Ray and Clay would look identical in their baseball uniforms and maybe there’s a parallel to the case of the clown pharmacy robbery, she comes to the conclusion that OMG JEFF COULD HAVE BORROWED THE COSTUME FROM JOE’S APARTMENT. If he had a key.
Amy, klutz that she is, elbows her own soda onto the floor. Elizabeth dashes into the back room for a mop, after getting OMC’s permission to enter the back room.
As she retrieves it, her eyes are drawn to a pegboard. A pegboard that houses keys. There are keys for the storeroom, for OMC’s apartment, and for… JOE’S APARTMENT.
Why the fuck does the ice cream place have a set of their part-time employee’s house keys? That’s so creepy, and only happening because the plot demands it. SO LAZY. [Dove: What. the. actual. fuck? There is no reason for this other than… drugs? Casey’s is a front for a drug business, and Joe’s “apartment” is where all the drugs are weighed/packed/etc., rather than where he lives? All three of them are involved, and they all need constant access? Just pitching the only reason I can come up with.] [Wing: That would be a much more interesting story. Maybe, MAYBE, if Joe was also related to them, I can see them having spare keys, but I wouldn’t leave them in the fucking mop closet.]
Instinctively, she grabs the keys. Why? Because she’s Jessica, apparently. This is awful. She then nervously botches the mop retrieval /soda moppage task as she daydreams about checking out Joe’s apartment and finding important clues.
We snap-cut to Joe’s apartment, where Elizabeth is ready to do a little breaking-and-entering in the name of justice. She lets herself in, and begins searching for clues.
The apartment is very poorly furnished. Elizabeth finds a pile of FINAL NOTICE bills. There’s fuck all in the fridge, and only a well-wrapped mystery package in the freezer compartment. She finds a clown nose and makeup.
Then… click! There’s a key sliding into the lock!
She dives into the walk-in closet and closes the door behind her, as an unknown man and woman enter the apartment. Turns out, they are police officers, here to collect evidence to use at Joe’s trial, because chain of custody only applies to other people, right? [Dove: I love the way Elizabeth muses to herself that she’s “probably not allowed” to be there, “even if I have a key”. Yeah, Liz, that’s how domiciles work. If you don’t live there and you weren’t invited, you have no fucking right to be there, no matter how you got in. Go fuck yourself.]
In their chatter as they do their supposed jobs, they discuss hearing someone “scurrying around” before they entered. One of them suggests that the re-search the place (not to be confused with researching the place).
Elizabeth shifts further back into the walk-in closet, looking to find the best hiding place possible. In doing so, she stumbles on another clue writ large. It’s a leg made of metal.
As the police search the apartment, Liz ponders the robot leg. Seriously. She thinks it’s the leg… of a robot. Eventually, she panics and desires nothing more than to escape from the Terror Leg as soon as she can.
Thankfully, the police search peters out before the suspense builds and they open the closet. Elizabeth remains undetected, and the adults in Sweet Valley prove once again that they are fucking useless at their jobs.
Elizabeth counts to 100 before she leaves the building, but not before she has one more look at the robot leg. Just what the devil is it?
It’s a prosthetic leg, you fucking imbecile.
Elizabeth is truly grasping the idiot ball in this one.
At home that evening, Elizabeth reads more of her Catherine Davenport novel. Catherine has done her part and managed to get Jay free… but she can’t find any proof that it’s Chauncey Bleecker who’s the real killer.
Then comes the twist! In the novel, it turns out that Jay Carroll was the real murderer after all!
In the darkness, Elizabeth licked her lips nervously. What if Christine isn’t the only one who makes mistakes?
[Dove: Ah, the elaborate double-bluff of commiting a murder, ensuring that everything points to you, so that nobody thinks you could have possibly done it because it’s so obviously you. Genius plan. Oh wait, that’s not even a single bluff.]
SPOILER… Elizabeth hasn’t made a mistake. Joe is innocent. Jeff is guilty. Sorry to be the bearer of indifferent news.
Now if it had transpired that Joe HAD been the culprit all along, this book may have been salvaged. But no.
Next day, at breakfast, Jessica tells her sister that she looks like a bag of shit. Lila calls (HELLO LILA!) and tells Jessica that she’s at the courthouse, as Joe’s trial is about to start. [Wing: I find Lila’s obsession with this trial, including going to watch it!, kind of fun. I could get behind True Crime Buff Lila.]
“The trial?” Jessica frowned.
“You know, Joe Carrey’s trial?” Lila sounded exasperated. “The guy who robbed the pharmacy and knocked you down? It was you, wasn’t it?”
Great, now even Jessica is no-ma’aming the whole armed robbery, and she was THERE.
Lila knows people at the sheriff’s department, and thinks it’s cool that the trial is sure to be short and that Joe is sure to be convicted. She even mocks Elizabeth’s notion that Joe is innocent, which is a bit rich since I presume that Joe would theoretically return to his job after his innocence is established and he’d be serving the girls again. Although I suppose he might move on after this is all done, as only Elizabeth is convinced of his innocence and the rest of the Casey’s clientele can go fuck themselves with his ice cream scoop. That’d explain the assumed absence of Joe once this book has concluded.
Lila’s edifying chat has an effect on Jessica: she ponders whether Joe could be innocent after all. However, she is reticent to get involved because of what she terms “the maxipad business”, which is sociopathic in the extreme. We like Jess the Wrongun, but daaamn.
Quick cut to three-thirty that afternoon, and Elizabeth is doing her homework. Her mind is on the trial. The phone rings, and she lets it go to the machine. It’s Lila, for Jessica, with updates on the trial.
So, where’s Jessica?
Big news in the trial… they found the gun used in the robbery! It was in the freezer compartment of Joe’s fridge!
Like… nobody was shot. How the hell can they pin this gun to the crime? Through eye witness testimony and security video?
Elizabeth thinks back to her time in Joe’s apartment. She herself had seen that package! Maybe she’s been wrong about Joe all this time?
Later that afternoon, Elizabeth visits Casey’s Place again, to return the stolen key to Joe’s apartment. Long story short: she does. But while sneaking into the back room to replace it, she’s discovered by an irate Jeff, who asks whether she’s been snooping in the broom closet. What on earth could that mean?
Old Man Casey appears, and saves Elizabeth’s blushes (and hide). Jeff threatens her before she escapes, another page from the Scooby Doo Bad Guy playbook.
When Jessica arrives home from wherever the bobbins she’s been, she has another Brainteaser for her preoccupied sibling.
A woman goes to sleep. When she wakes up, she’s lost something.
(Apologies, but my mind immediately springs to “Steven” and “Knickers” here.)
Apparently, she’s much happier than when she went to sleep. What did she lose?
After fifteen minutes of wondering, the answer is revealed. She’s lost her tooth, after falling asleep in the dentist’s chair.
For some reason, the fact that the Brainteaser involves someone losing a part of their own body makes her realise that Joe’s Robot Leg is actually a prosthetic limb!
Hooray for Brainteasers!
Elizabeth is exultant.
Suddenly it all became clear. Joe was missing a leg! That’s why he always wears long pants, no matter how hot it is outside. That’s why he doesn’t ride a motorcycle anymore. That’s why he quit the track team and gave up his scholarship.
Elizabeth slammed the book shut.
But how can I prove it?
Why does she have to prove it?!
At this point, taking the text at face value, what the FUCK does it have to do anything? So Joe has a false leg… how does that, at this stage, alter ANYTHING?
[Dove: I kept bugging Raven to see which chapter he was on because I wanted to rage about this. Just fuck off, Elizabeth. My only thought is that she’s desperate to prove he’s disabled, so she can add another tick to her list of poor unfortunate souls that she saves.] [Wing: I have a vent about this, but I will save it for later.]
I mean, sure, we KNOW that the whole Jessica-kicking-a-clown’s-leg thing, and having the clown in question hop around in pain, means the perpetrator does not have a false leg. But in the plot, Elizabeth isn’t there yet.
By the way, HOW do we know that the above scenario means the perp doesn’t have a false leg?
BECAUSE THE SIMPSONS DID IT.
Elizabeth dashes to tell Wendy at the library, because sure, that’s the obvious first move… go rush and tell someone who sort-of knew Joe a few years ago. While she’s there, she also checks out the library’s microfilm to find the much-needed proof that Joe has a false leg, as if he can’t just prove it by, y’know, SHOWING EVERYONE HIS FALSE LEG.
Eventually, she finds what she’s inexplicably looking for. There’s news of a motorcycle accident, and Joe is mentioned by name as a participant that left the scene in an ambulance, sporting a terribly mangled leg.
Elizabeth felt a sudden flare of anger at Joe, for not confiding in people, for making her go through all these newspapers, for hiding his injury.
OH FUCK OFF, YOU ENTITLED PIECE OF SHIT. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. [Dove: Oh, I’m sorry, Elizabeth, did this man, who has no fucking personal relationship with you, make the active choice not to share his disability with you? What a selfish bastard. It’s almost as if it’s fuck all to do with you and his right to share or not share details of his life.]
This book makes NO FUCKING SENSE any more.
We now cut to 10pm, back at the Wakefield Compound. Elizabeth is too restless and upset to consider sleeping. Steven is watching sports highlights, with the same epic baseball slide from multiple angles.
Elizabeth finally attempts to sleep, but can’t drift off as a multitude of images pertinent to the situation are flooding through her mind.
The artificial leg… and stepping on Joe’s foot… and the clown yelling in the pharmacy…
Fucking hell, can we just GET TO THE END already? We were all with you about three chapters ago. Because… all together now… the Simpsons Did It.
[Dove: Here, let’s just use the clip:
Elizabeth finally falls asleep, without joining the dots in a sufficient manner.
Next morning at breakfast, Jessica and Steven are surprised when a dishevelled Elizabeth storms in declaring that Joe didn’t do it. While she’s been claiming this throughout the entire book, this time it seems that a good night’s sleep has helped her come to the conclusions we all came to much earlier.
She explains to her family about Joe’s false leg, and how Jessica’s collision with the criminal means that Joe cannot possibly be the culprit. Finally, everyone believes her… but as she doesn’t expand on how she knows about the leg, her father interrogates her about the details.
And she basically lies to his face.
This book would make SO MUCH MORE SENSE if it were JESSICA the Spy, as the methods employed by Elizabeth throughout the book are straight from the brainpan of her more devious twin.
Eventually, the family decides that they need to save an innocent man… which can only be accomplished if Jessica testify in court that day.
Jessica turned from the stove abruptly. She was slightly pale. “All we have to do is what?”
A few minutes later, while the girls are dressing, Jessica makes it ultimately clear that she has no intention of testifying at Joe’s trial. Why? Because she’d be embarrassed, that’s why.
“Because.” Jessica thrust her chin forward belligerently. “You want me to tell the whole world that I acted like a klutz?” she demanded. “You want me to tell everybody that I was buying you-know-whats like a total doofus, like a banana brain?”
I CAN’T EVEN.
I know we are used to Jessica being self-centred, but this is someone’s LIFE here, you insipid witch. Pull on your big girl britches and get it done.
[Dove: Literally nobody has asked the twins a single thing about the whole event. How on earth is Jessica so utterly mortified by everyone knowing she was buying maxipads when literally nobody knows?]
I could get behind this if it were leading to Jessica realising the gravity of the situation and eventually doing the right thing, but no. It’s far, far worse than that. Not only does she refuse to step up for the rest of the book, but… well, we’ll get to that.
Elizabeth tries to persuade Jess to do it, appealing to her conscience. It doesn’t work. We know this, as she has no conscience. Jessica locks herself in her room. End of.
Elizabeth is stunned. How can Jessica be so selfish? How can she abandon Joe to an uncertain and incarcerated fate?
Her eyes fall upon a pile of her sweaters, including a certain pink sweater that’s labelled EW, the sweater that Jessica wore during the robbery. In doing so, she has a brave, terrible, idiotic idea…
We cut to the minivan later that morning, and the Sainted Alice is questioning her “forgetful” daughter.
“The way your memory works, I guess.” Mrs. Wakefield closed the van door after her. “I don’t understand how you could forget it was you who kicked the clown, not Jessica.”
So THAT’S how you’re gonna play this, Elizabeth? Twin fucking Magic that leads to actual PERJURY?!
Why the hell can’t you just testify as another person that appears on the security video?
[Dove: Also, Steven keeps spouting off that she’s got PTSD, which is a gallopingly ignorant thing to say, especially since the twins have barely noticed they went through trauma. The parents haven’t even asked them if they’re ok.] [Wing: One of my sisters was held up at gunpoint a few years ago, and the trauma of that still shows itself sometimes. Fuck off, Steven, with your PTSD when absolutely no one even bothers to remember the twins went through that until the plot demands it. Also, fuck off with armchair-diagnosis in general.]
Elizabeth was there too. Okay, so she didn’t actually kick the clown, but she can testify as to what occurs. But no, she decides to make a mockery of the law and risk a mistrial.
Let’s rattle through the rest, because to be frank, it’s atrocious. There’s a pretty awful courtroom scene in which Elizabeth testifies in Jessica’s place, and shares the whole false-leg-theorem with the assembled throng backed up with the video evidence. She also frames her answers carefully, to avoid actual perjury. Eventually, the Judge asks her if she can point out the man who robbed the pharmacy in the court, and although Jeff is there watching proceedings, she can’t legitimately finger him for the crime.
There are tumultuous scenes when Elizabeth declares that Joe only has one leg. This is proved when he’s asked by the Judge to roll up his trouser leg. He does so with a smile. The jury find him not guilty. The readers are shocked. SHOCKED, I say.
[Dove: I don’t know anything about USA law, but I do know a bit about court requirements. There’s a thing called disclosure, where each side submits the evidence they’re going to use. So in theory, Joe’s lawyer should have noticed some of these issues. One would hope that he would see the tape and think, “Gosh, and the kid’s broke because he was in a crash that resulted in an amputation…” and patch it together. I mean, if Elizabeth can, you’d assume someone else could.]
[Wing: This. This was my rant from earlier. His defense attorney would have access to the video. And yes, I realize that defense attorneys are over-worked and underpaid, at least when they are the kind who are provided to the defendant because they can’t afford one otherwise, but if fucking Elizabeth goddamn Wakefield could notice the kick, anyone can. And there is no way, absolutely no way, his defense attorney would not know about the leg. NO GODDAMN WAY. A brand-new defense attorney on their first case would have made an argument about the kick and the prosthesis. Even if the clown’s reaction wasn’t fully caught on tape, Jessica kicked it, and that’s clear. The defense attorney would have deposed her about whether it felt like a metal fucking leg. What the ever-loving fuck is going on with this book.]
Joe is very thankful.
In the final chapter, back at Casey’s Place, the gang all eat ice creams prepared by the mighty Joe. We learn in a fucking THROWAWAY OFF-SCREEN COMMENT that Jeff has been charged with the caper after they found his fingerprints on the gun.
A FUCKING OFF-SCREEN THROWAWAY COMMENT! [Dove: I hate this stupid book.]
Mr Casey announces his retirement, planned for the following year, with Joe being announced as the person who inherits the store. Fucking whoopie. I’ll bet Old Man Casey never leaves. I hope the continuity of this book is put into a capsule and fired into the sun.
For some unfathomable reason, Elizabeth becomes the spokesperson for Maxipads on a string of national commercials, and Jessica is suitably jealous. Finally, someone’s moved into the scary old Sullivan mansion up the hill, and the next book is hooked in.
Oh boy. This fucking book.
I hated EVERY SECOND of this. IT WAS A FUCKING SIMPSONS EPISODE, without the charm, sass and jokes.
Elizabeth was ridiculously out of character for the whole thing. I didn’t care a solitary shit about Joe, or Jeff, or Old Man Casey. Everyone was FANTASTICALLY self-centred and entitled. There was no action from ANY of the loveable peripherals. There was no real spying, or anything similar. The action was uninspired, and there were so many holes in the plot it looked like a damn sieve.
If this had been Jessica acting in the place of Elizabeth, it would have been a lot more acceptable. Probably not good, but at least passable. But no.
The only thing I enjoyed about the book was the length. It was mercifully short.
[Dove: I hate this book. It’s rubbish. It’s boring. It’s pointless. Elizabeth is both dim as fuck and irritatingly smug. Nobody cares in the slightest that the twins were at the store when it was robbed. Did this take place during term time or holidays? There was no indication either way. It was all free time, but it could have been time-skipping too. Nobody beyond Elizabeth got more than a paragraph of interaction. I fucking loathe this book. It’s not as bad as Steven Gets Even, but it fucking sucks.]
[Wing: I can’t believe that my rage over poorly-written lawyering did not involve Ned fucking Wakefield, but here we are.]
“Is America so laissez-faire about gun crime that Sweet Valley can just toss this ARMED ROBBERY that saw MINORS IN PERIL into the “ah well, sucks I guess, happens to everyone though right?” [Wing: I mean…]”
“Whatever happened to Innocent Until Proven Guilty, policeman? [Wing: He’s a cop in the US, so, well, I mean…]”
I am unclear on what Elizabeth’s plan is. Their evidence is circumstantial for sure, but she offers no alternative theories or evidence. Her whole argument is she likes him… She certainly has a future with The Innocence Project, but this is not a recipe for success.
“It’s because at the end of it, we all know Elizabeth will be proven right. She’s got nothing – NOTHING – to base her decision on. She’s acting like an entitled waste of skin.”
This is my frustration with most Elizabeth books.
“That’s some weak-ass comedy right there. I guess the “Joe Knows” repetition is from a commercial of the day, or something? [Wing: I can find nothing on it, but it sounds like some sort of lawyer commercial.]”
This is a riff on the “Bo Knows” commercials featuring Bo Jackson. Ridiculous athlete: played professional football and baseball simultaneously, had a horrendous leg break to effectively end his career. I believe it was also the first (or among the first) athlete endorsement of its kind.
“[Dove: Ah, the elaborate double-bluff of commiting a murder, ensuring that everything points to you, so that nobody thinks you could have possibly done it because it’s so obviously you. Genius plan. Oh wait, that’s not even a single bluff.]”
Agatha Christie, Amanda Whats-her-face is not…
“We learn in a fucking THROWAWAY OFF-SCREEN COMMENT that Jeff has been charged with the caper after they found his fingerprints on the gun.”
This is the absolute stupidest thing in this book of stupid stupidity.
I love your recaps, but I almost wish you’d just reviewed Krusty Gets Busted (and Simpsons Did It) instead. The Simpsons was approx 60% of my tv viewing growing up (no cable) so I’m almost disappointed I stopped reading before this book. Young me would have been disgusted by this book – and probably felt Elizabethly superior for catching the similarities. It’s mainly the supers that rip off movies, The Simpsons is such an odd pairing for this series. Of course, I might have been the only person who both read Sweet Valley and watched The Simpsons religiously.