I liked this book as a kid because even though they were unrealistic, I enjoyed the mysteries. And this one at least seemed slightly plausible, because anyone could happen to take pictures of someplace the day it was robbed. Or maybe I just hoped it was plausible because I wanted it to happen to me.
I have one specific memory. It is that Claudia was developing pictures in her dark room, and Janine walked in on her. But Claudia doesn’t know Janine is home and she starts thinking someone was stalking her. That I didn’t want to happen to me.
It’s summer in Stoneybrook and Claudia’s stuck going to summer school. However, her parents agreed she could also take a “fun” class. She signed up for photography and has gotten really into it. She’s been taking pictures all the time and using her bathroom as a darkroom to develop them. This ties into the BSC’s latest project – making a photo album for Dawn, who’s still in California. They’re getting together with a bunch of kids and spending a day taking pictures around town, inspired by “A Day in the Life of America.” Anyway, while taking pictures downtown, Claudia suddenly becomes fascinated by the Stoneybrook bank. She finishes a roll of film taking pictures of it, and
Amazingly, the BSC finds out later that money was taken from the bank on the same day they were there. So, they try to play detective. At first, they don’t see much in the pictures, just that there’s a guy in a suit and a woman with a baby carriage walking in front of the bank. They still bring them to the police station, and Sergeant Johnson remembers them from the dog-napping case. He takes the pictures, but says he doesn’t think they show anything.
However, these girls don’t like to give up, so they start “staking out” the bank. They figure out that the guy in a suit works at the bank and the woman with a carriage really has a baby. Claudia also remembers that she has more pictures of the bank in the unfinished roll on her camera. She goes to develop them, but someone opens the door to her bathroom/darkroom and it ruins the film. However, no one else in her family seems to be home at the time, which kind of freaks her out.
The BSC talks to Sergeant Johnson a few more times and find out the guy in a suit/banker is under suspicion because he lied about where he was on the day in question. But he tells them that unless they have a picture of the guy carrying something out of the bank, the photos are worthless. After analyzing more pictures (that Mary Anne took of Claudia taking pictures), and zooming in on the banker they realize that the guy’s wearing a watch (that works) and carrying a pocket watch (that doesn’t work). Apparently this is proof that he’s hiding something in the watch, and the girls think it MUST be a key to a safe deposit box in the bank, where the stolen money is hidden.
Then in the most ridiculous scene ever, they go to the police station and are allowed into the interrogation room to show the suspect these pictures and tell him their theory. And because this guy’s an idiot, he doesn’t ask for a lawyer or ignore them. He just confesses.
Oh, after a bunch of chapters of boring kid-antics, they finish the book for Dawn, and she writes a letter about how much she likes it and how she’ll be “home” soon. Because her heart totally belongs in Stoneybrook.
- We don’t get a lot of outfits in this one. Claud keeps talking about how she changes out of her good clothes into old shorts/T-shirts to go in the dark room. But, she doesn’t tell us what she’s taking off.
- Mary Anne’s sitting for the Barrett kids, and notices that Mrs. Barrett remembered to leave an “emergency number” while she went on her date with Franklin. She thinks it’s because of his influence, but I’m not sure I like the attitude that scatterbrained Mrs. Barrett only got organized because she met a guy.
- We do get one Claudia outfit: “A silky pink tank top with a man’s white shirt tied casually over it, white jeans, and flip-flops decorated with…pink stars.” My only issue with it is that it seems too warm for the summer. Even if it’s all white, it’s still pants and a (likely) long sleeved shirt.
- While Claudia, Kristy, Shannon, and Stacey are watching the bank from across the street, they see Logan entering the building. Stacey tries to call out to him, and Kristy’s all, “don’t! He could be a suspect. That girl’s a bit dramatic.
- Some of the kids taking pictures go to the Braddocks’ house, where they are having a picnic for people from Matt’s school for the deaf. Now, not to be rude, but why is that something to go in a book for Dawn? It’s not like she would know any of them (expect Matt and Haley).
- If Claudia, Mary Anne, Charlotte, Becca, and Buddy and Suzi Barrett were all hanging out across the street from the bank taking pictures, wouldn’t this banker guy have noticed them? And maybe tried to wait until they’ve moved on before committing a felony?
- When the girls first hear about the theft, Claudia says she wants to solve the case, but the rest of them tease her by saying this isn’t “Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Bank.” And they’re right. It’s Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph.” It’s MUCH more realistic.
- The first cop they talk to actually waves the girls away, saying the pictures wouldn’t hold up in court. While, that may be right, I’m surprised he wouldn’t even look at them. Photos of a crime scene certainly wouldn’t hurt an investigation.
- Janine’s the one who opened the door on Claudia in the “dark room.” She left the house quickly because she had done the same thing to Claudia earlier, and was embarrassed about making the same mistake twice. She finally confessed because she felt bad Claudia was worried about being stalked.
- Jessi gets a picture of Aunt Cecelia in her “fuzzy slippers.” I actually have a hard time picturing uptight Cecilia walking around in fuzzy slippers.
- Janine actually gets a lot to do in this one. The girls keep thinking they solved the case by something in the pictures. And Janine overhears them, comes into Claud’s room, and tells them they’re jumping to conclusions. But she’s not mean about it, at least not from my perspective….I tend to sympathize with Janine over Claudia a lot of the time.
- So, the girls wonder if the woman with a baby carriage is a suspect, and try to get a look at her baby (to see if it’s real), but the woman makes it hard to get a look. So, Claudia drops a bunch of coins to distract the woman and lifts up the blanket to see the baby while the mother’s helping pick up coins. The woman’s rightfully annoyed by this. I’m thinking she won’t be calling the BSC for a sitter.
- Sergeant Johnson tells them the banker’s under suspicion, but not to tell anyone. Because teenage girls can be counted on to keep police secrets. Especially, when it’s only his second encounter with them.
- I can believe that Claudia could get into taking pictures of one building for ages. But, she wasn’t alone. They end up with pictures of banker/suit guy in front of the bank, the bank with a light on and no one in front of it, and then the banker/suit guy back outside the bank again. This must have been over a fairly long period of time. What were Mary Anne and the kids doing while Claud did this?
- Why does the guy need a pocket watch to hide a safety deposit box key? Does he not know that you can put keys in the pocket of pants? Or a suit jacket?
- Furthermore, why is he still carrying the key around days later? It would make sense to keep it at home or in his office. It’s not like someone would know right away that the box it opened was filled with stolen cash. And he would have to go back to the bank to USE the key regardless, so it’s not like he was keeping it on him in case he had to go on the run.
- We’re never told how much money was stolen, which is kind of annoying.
- Because it can’t be said enough, what the hell kind of police let 13-year-olds in on a police interrogation!? There are so many things wrong with that.