I didn’t read this as a kid. I think I only made it to book 20 or so, and didn’t even read all of those. But I do remember being amazed sometimes when I went to the bookstore and realized there were so many Little Sister books. I found them so much less interesting than the regular series and couldn’t believe people were still buying them.
The good news: Karen’s leaving Stoneybrook for a month. The bad news: this is a little sister book so we’re going with her. She’s heading to Chicago for a month to live with her “little house” family.
There’s a break-in in Karen’s apartment building and some “valuable” paintings are stolen from one of the residents. Karen’s all excited about it and wants to solve the crime. She wanders all over the building looking for clues, and even manages to interview a couple neighbors. While doing this she keeps running into Matt, the grandson of the victim, and thinks he’s “suspicious”(despite only being seven). But eventually, she realizes that she’s been running into him because he’s also playing detective. They decide to join forces, and Matt introduces Karen to his grandmother, Mrs. Arthur. She tells Karen the paintings were a gift from an old boyfriend and shows Karen a picture of the guy. Karen thinks he looks familiar, but doesn’t figure out why until she sees Fred, a deliveryman, walking into the basement of the building.
They tell Mrs. Arthur, who tells the doorman, and they all go downstairs to confront Fred. In addition to being the thief, Fred turns out to be the son of Mrs. Arthur’s old boyfriend. He also has the dumbest motive ever. It takes ages to explain because it is so stupid there’s no way to summarize it. Basically, his mother died, his father got “too sad to work” and lost all his money. When the father died, Fred and his brother changed their names to hide from bill collectors. They knew their father had given someone paintings and described them, and then when he was making a delivery, he happened to notice the paintings and came back later to take them. He realized he didn’t know what to do with them after that, and wanted to return them, but didn’t know how to do that either. The grandmother decides she doesn’t want to press charges, and while the cops still bring him in, he gets off pretty easy.
Then Karen has a “calm” stay for the rest of her time in Chicago.
- I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but it is fitting that Karen recognizes that Fred is the son of the guy in Mrs. Arthur’s picture, because in the mystery where she and Kristy are stuck in an old house, she recognizes that the woman in a picture was someone who had a store in Stoneybrook.
- While “investigating” Karen hides by the mailboxes and jumps out and takes a picture of everyone who comes to check the mail. How does she get away with that? I would think the doorman would say something to Karen’s mom about how she should keep her daughter from annoying the crap out of everyone.
- When Karen asks the doorman about the theft, he says that he didn’t see anything, but that he’s sure the police will figure it out. Now, maybe he was just saying that cause he was talking to a kid, but normally police wouldn’t solve a small break-in like that.
- Karen can really be very bratty. Matt was using a tape recorder to tape his notes as he “investigated.” And when he drops it she grabs it and runs to her apartment to listen.
- Here’s a sign of the times….Karen took pictures the day of the break-in, but she can’t look at them, or show them to Matt because the film hasn’t been developed.
- Isn’t Karen supposed to be smart? Cause after she steals the tape from Matt, she needs to listen to a lot of it to figure out he’s playing detective too. Even when he talks about having suspects, she’s not sure what it means.
- I’ll give Karen some slack about believing a seven-year-old could be responsible for the break-in because she’s a little kid too.
- If I think it’s unrealistic for 13-year-olds to solve crimes, then clearly I think it’s beyond ridiculous for a seven-year-old to do it. But at least Karen tells an adult before trying to confront the culprit.
- So, Karen’s little-house family moved to Chicago for six-months, and she was originally going with them. But does that really make sense? It seems really disruptive to have a seven-year-old switch to a new school that likely has a different curriculum for such a short time. Especially since her father has joint-custody of her and lives in Stoneybrook.
- Fred says he changed his name to hide from bill collectors. Is that supposed to make him sympathetic? Even if it was debt from his father, I just don’t feel bad for him for it.
- I think we’re also supposed to be sorry for Fred’s father too. But honestly, his wife dies and he’s too sad to work for the rest of his life? I’m sympathetic to his loss, but that excuse can only last so long.
- There is this backstory about how Mrs. Arthur was once an actress, and it seems to be a set up for the end, when she lies to Fred about having called the police (which ends up delaying him from running off before someone else DOES call the cops). I guess one would need acting training to pull off a huge con like that?
- I don’t quite understand how these paintings were “valuable.” Mrs. Arthur’s old boyfriend was an actor who stopped working years ago. So, he’s not famous or anything. How are some random paintings he did so valuable? Granted, Mrs. Arthur says they weren’t the most valuable things in the apartment, but she says they were valuable.
- Karen informs us that when she found out the guy next to her on the plane had been on a business trip to NYC, she started telling him everything she knew about the city. Amazingly enough, the poor guy had to take a nap soon after.
- Matt’s grandmother tells Karen that the paintings that were stolen were not as valuable as other paintings in the apartment. Karen looks at these paintings and thinks she could have made a better painting. Is that supposed to be a dig on modern art?
- Karen says that her father grew up in the “Big-House.” I guess that should have been assumed, since Ben Brewer haunts the attic, but I don’t remember any other direct confirmation of it.