Yet another one I missed as a kid. But if I had read it, I’m sure I would have found the plot unbelievable, no matter how old I was.
Derek Masters has a new movie coming out, so it’s only logical that he needs a baby-sitter. The movie’s about a murder that takes place on a train, and to promote it, the studio has organized a replica of the train to travel from Boston to Charleston, SC for the premiere. There are stops planned in different cities for reporters to ask questions and watch reenactments of key movie scenes. Derek gets to invite friends with him, because who wouldn’t want a bunch of eight-year-olds hanging around at a media event like this? Meanwhile, Mrs. Masters can’t go and Mr. Masters is an Executive Producer (who will therefore be busy), so they want three BSC members to go along. Kristy, Abby, and Stacey are the lucky ones, and they’ll be watching Derek, his CA friend Greg, Nicky Pike, Buddy Barrett, David Michael, James Hobart, Linny Papdakis, and Derek’s little brother Todd plus his friend Daniel.
Anyway, the first day on the train everyone finds a threatening-type note in their programs saying “the truth will come out.” Later, a smoke bomb goes off in Derek and the BSC’s compartment. Everyone’s fine, but the “mysterious” events don’t end there. Kristy and Stacey are at the back of the train and witness two men fighting in the dark. It ends with what looks like a guy being thrown overboard. They tell the conductor, and a search of the train’s done, but no one’s missing and everyone thinks that Stacey and Kristy made it up. Of course, the girls decide to “investigate” and they eventually realize that Mr. Pierce (Daniel’s father and the film’s writer) had lied about where he was during the man overboard scene. They think he’s behind everything, but that’s not quite it.
It turns out that Mr. Pierce is a teacher, and he based the film’s script on a script an one an old student had submitted to him. So, the student went crazy and tried to make him look like a murderer. There’s this whole ridiculous show-down scene where Kristy saves Daniel by locking him into a bathroom. It’s ridiculous. But the real villain gets caught, the crazy guy gets half credit for the script, and the idea-stealer’s supposedly still going to teach, but not write any more.
Subplot: The rest of the BSC is spending the weekend helping at the summer-opening weekend at Greenbook Country Club. There are lots of kids there having fun in the pool, but Stephen (The owner’s son) keeps trying to avoid going in. Eventually, he admits to Jessi that he can’t swim, and she gives him lessons. By the time they have an evening pool party, Stephen’s fine in the water, and everyone has a blast.
- I was pleased to see Kristy refer to Emily Michelle as her sister (and not her “adopted sister” like she usually does). But then later in the paragraph she adds “she was adopted” in parentheses. I feel like saying that every time makes Emily seem like she’s second-class or something.
- Kristy says that if people have something important to do (like baby-sitting) they can skip meetings….but that seems inconsistent with everything we know about Kristy and BSC meetings.
- Claudia: “She was in bright mode: red shorts, a purple crop top over a longer red-and-white-striped muscle shirt, purple socks, and red high-tops laced with red-and-white striped shoelaces. Her hair was pulled up to one side with a know of red and purple scrunchies, and her earrings were shiny red apples.”
- Kristy looks hideous on the cover.
- When the girls go to Boston for the start of the train ride, they talk about how Mallory would have liked to see Louisa May Alcott’s house. Which I guess is true, but isn’t Mary Anne the big Little Women fan?
- When talking about past dealings with Derek Masters, Mallory’s all, yup, all the details on “Kristy and the Vampires Mystery” are right here in the mystery notebook. I guess that’s supposed to imply that the book we all read was almost entirely an entry?
- Stacey calls Boston a “nice little town.” Because according to Stacey, nowhere but NYC is a real city.
- There’s all this talk that the two leads in the movie are together in real life, but they are sleeping in separate rooms on the train, and in the morning are up at completely different times. I know that doesn’t mean anything, it just seems weird to have them talk about dating, have the woman acknowledge it’s true, then not show them acting as a couple at all. In fact, they barely talk.
- The idea of a train ride as publicity seems pretty dumb to me. That’s really the best way they could come up with to promote a movie like that?
- Why didn’t the crazy-guy just sue Mr. Pierce for stealing his idea? It would have been easier than faking his murder. Crazy-guy was also going to wait until the press figured out about the idea-stealing and then come back to bask in the glory by pretending he had amnesia after the “murder.” Cause that makes sense.
- “Claudia was wearing a huge tie-dyed T-shirt knotted at the waist, and her sandals sported flowers that matched the flower barrette holding back her hair. Her gear was in a funky, bright yellow, plastic mesh tote that was the same shade as the rims of her big, round sunglasses.”
- There’s this whole subplot about Stacey looking just like the reporter. It ends up being important because when crazy-guy jumped off the train, he saw that she was watching and thought it was the reporter. He somehow thought this would get her to investigate, and find out Mr. Pierce stole the script. But I’m not sure how one thing leads to another.
- “Mary Anne was wearing a faded green Izod shirt and a baseball cap that read “Ted’s Tools.” Which makes me ask two questions – first, should I know what Izod is, and second, is it sad that I recognize the name Ted’s Tools as the name of the hardware store in downtown Stoneybrook?
- Jessi “was wearing blue bicycle shorts with a red cutoff T-shirt over a blue sports top and reef-runners.” Reef runners? Again, I have no idea what they are…water shoes maybe?
- At the country club, Mallory’s wearing all sorts of hats and with extra sun lotion. They all make fun of her and laugh about how it reminds them of Shadow Lake. But that was because of a problem with bug bites…Mary Anne’s the one with the sunburn issues. Mallory was always at the beach in Sea City and never had sunburn issues.
- At the country club, Jessi, Mal, Mary Anne, and Claudia are acting as counselors to the kids whose families are there. This includes Ben Hobart, who’s Mal’s age, but seems to be lumped in with the kids in this book. I wouldn’t have a problem if he was just hanging out with his siblings and the BSC, but they have him taking part in the kid’s cannon ball contest and making fake barfing noises to gross out some of the girls. It seems really weird, especially since Mallory’s around.
- The kids at the country club play “Old Bachelor” instead of Old Maid. Is that a known version of the game, or just a splash of feminism the ghostwriters inserted?
- Jessi can tell that Stephen has had swim lessons before, but he still seemed to struggle. Apparently, he just needed BSC magic to solve the problem.
- Ann Martin and/or the ghostwriters don’t have a great view of movie stars, do they? This is the second one where she has the “heartthrob” being a pompous jerk.
- So, the end of this book’s the most ridiculous thing ever. Kristy’s trying to protect Daniel while Mr. Pierce knocks crazy-guy down in the hallway. Then Kristy says she sees (or thinks she sees) Abby and Stacey “piling on.” So are we supposed to think that Stacey and Abby were actually physically fighting crazy-guy? Or that Kristy was seeing things? Cause the former’s just to silly to even respond to.