I never read this book when I was a kid, so I don’t have a memory of it (obviously).
Okay, this one is a little complicated...for a BSC book anyway. Mary Anne is doing a school project on Edgar Allen Poe. She picks him for this project because a mystery bookstore is opening in town called Poe and Co – so of course, she ends up with a sitting job for the kids whose father, Mr. Cates, is opening the store (they live above it). At the job, Mary Anne finds out the guy needs help setting up the store, so she volunteers the other girls to help out. Then weird stuff starts happening, like Mary Anne hearing a heart beating sound, someone finding the word “nevermore” carved into the wall, seeing what looks like a grave in the basement, a raven flying into the store, etc. It is all Poe themed, which the ghostwriter points out because 8-year-olds don’t usually pick up on stuff like that.
There is also some other odd stuff, because the book store is opening in a house that was owned by an author named Gable, who doesn’t actual exist. I mean, in BSC-world he existed, but in the real world he does not. According to Stoneybrook legend, Poe visited Gable at his house several times. Also, this Gable guy died and no one knows how or what happened to his body or where his last works are. This kid Alex, who is a descendent of Gable thinks Poe murdered Gable and stole all his work.
The BSC thinks someone is trying to hurt the dude’s business, especially because some of the weird stuff ends up in an newspaper article about the store. They don’t seem to realize that the business is getting more calls after this article. THEN, they do a fingerprint test and realize the owner is behind everything and STILL don’t get it. But finally, Mary Anne remembers some Poe story that talks about newspapers and sensationalism and they get it. They are a little pissed at the owner for using them (he kept asking Mary Anne to solve the case for them), but it all works out in the end.
Sub plot: It rains a lot, so they set up a sunny day festival. Yes, it is as dumb as it sounds. They also spend a bunch of time trying to get these new kids used to Stoneybrook and to make friends. They do, but I am assuming it is a situation where we never see them hanging out with the Pikes again.
- It is raining all the time, so we get to hear about everyone’s raingear.
- Kristy: A baseball cap, jeans, a Krusher’s T-shirt, a windbreaker, and running shoes.
- Abby: a green poncho over her jeans and shirt.
- Mary Anne: Umbrella and raincoat.
- Claud: None, sadly, because it is her house and she didn’t have to go outside to get to the meeting like everyone else.
- Stacey: a long navy coat with a matching wide brimmed hat.
- We do get a Claudia outfit though: “A pair of jeans, but they weren’t like anyone else’s jeans. She’d painted raindrops down each leg. Over the jeans she wore a long white shirt and a gray vest. The vest had little umbrellas painted all over it. For earrings, she wore paper parasols attached to gold chains.”
- Mr. Cates is obsessed with Poe, so they name a black cat they find “Pluto” after some Poe story. They want to keep the cat in the bookstore, because “all mystery bookstores needs a cat.” Personally, I would avoid any store that let a cat wander around, but that is just me.
- Mr. Cates agrees to pay the BSC for helping set up the store, but is that like, legal? I am sure if he had to actual hire contract workers to paint his store he would need to pay more than he is giving the BSC.
- So, this kid, Alex Gable is a descendent of the Gable author guy everyone keeps talking about. His father used to own the house that is becoming a bookstore. So he hangs around a lot, because people always hang around property they have just sold. He is really obnoxious and talks about how his great-great-whatever was a better writer than Poe. Then he meets Stacey and just smiles at her.
- There is also a woman names Professor Kingslover involved….she teaches at Stoneybrook University and is this uber-superstitious chick who freaks out at the sight of an open umbrella, always wears a 4-leaf clover pendent, and carries a rabbits foot.
- Mr. Cates has to run an errand, but needs someone to stay at the house for a delivery, so he lets Mary Anne and Logan hang out alone. I know the BSC is super reliable, but would he really let a 13-year-old he barely knows stay at his empty house with her boyfriend?
- Heh. Tom Cates (one of the kids) runs into the bathroom at the movie theater whole Claud is sitting. She is stuck in the lobby calling for him, and Alan Gray thinks she was abandoned by a date. Or pretends to think that. We need more Alan in these books.
- Mr. Cates ex-wife was named Anabel Lee, and his kids think he only married her because that is the name of Poe’s wife. That is really weird.
- The Cates’ parents are recently divorced, but it is described as the mother recently “leaving.” They don’t spend much time explaining the details of that, but one of the kids does get a sweet scene with Kristy about dealing with parental abandonment.
- Tom asks Kristy what she did for her father to leave, but Kristy just says (like she really believes it), nothing, the guy was just an asshole. Well, she doesn’t quite say that. But it seemed like a mature reaction.
- The back of the book teases us with “Mary Anne loves reading spooky stories. But can she handle living in one.” I must call bullshit on that. Mary Anne does not now, nor has she ever liked reading scary stories. That was Dawn. Mary Anne even says so in the book.
- Mary Anne hears the construction workers complaining about how their job is annoying and thinks they might be purposely sabotaging their job, so Mr. Cates closes the store. Mary Anne, people might complain, about their jobs, but they still want to earn money.
- A reporter from Stoneybrook news shows up, sees MA and recognizes her as someone who has solves mysteries. Seriously, she is all, “I knew you looked familiar. You are a member of the Baby-Sitters Club. You girls have quite a reputation.”
- The girls actually get a fingerprinting kit from the triplets and get fingerprints from all relevant parties. They trick them into drinking coffee and pull off the prints. It sounds really lame, and gets lamer, when they can’t even figure out who the person is when the finger prints match.
- Stacey gets all into making mud pies at the sunny-day festival. It is even her idea. How sophisticated.
- Oh, and they find a secret compartment inside a desk that has papers from the nonexistent author. So, Alex and his dad get to publish his book.