This was just after I stopped reading the books……
The Hatts, old friends of Claudia’s parents are moving back to Stoneybrook and are staying at the Kishi’s. The Hatts are the owners of the Stoneybrook lighthouse, which has been shut down/boarded up for years. Because yes, the town apparently has a lighthouse. There are vague references to something bad happening there a few years back, right before it closed and the Hatts left town. Claudia goes with Mr. Hatt and his daughter to see the lighthouse, and a neighbor sees them and gets pissed that Mr. Hatt’s back in town. Then a bunch of threatening letters made by cutting out letters from magazines show up at the Kishi house.
Mallory and Jessi do some research and find out that nine years ago, a 16-year-old boy named Adrian was pulled from the water near the lighthouse in the middle of winter, and he ended up dying. The coroner noted that he showed signs of a head injury, gotten by a fall from 20-30 feet up. Adrian’s fingerprints were found in the lighthouse, but it was locked up, so it appeared that he had been inside when Mr. Hatt locked the lighthouse, and decided to climb out the window because he was claustrophobic and couldn’t take being locked in the place. The neighbor’s Adrian’s father, and he blames Mr. Hatt for the death.
In the basement of the lighthouse, Claudia finds an old note that says “If you last the night in the lighthouse you will be one of us” and has a picture of a gargoyle. Some investigation reveals that the gargoyle is a statue at the high school and there used to be gang-type groups who acted as his fans, or something dumb like that. The BSC goes there to look at it, and happens to meet the brother of the kid that died. They go back to his house to talk about Adrian, then Claudia steals/borrows a picture of a bunch of his friends.
Meanwhile, the Hatts keep getting notes, and then a smoke bomb goes off in the lighthouse. To send a message to the person doing this, the Hatts let their teenage son, Steve, have a party at the lighthouse, which the parents and the BSC attends. Even though the stairs to the top of the lighthouse were closed off, Claudia sees someone up there, and she recognizes him as someone in the picture of Adrian’s friends. She gets Mr. Hatt, but then the guy tries to climb down the side of the lighthouse. He falls, but they’re able to save him. It turns out that this guy, Patrick was the leader the group Adrian wanted to be a part of. Adrian was supposed to stay in the lighthouse overnight as an initiation, and his friends locked the door to make sure he did it. Patrick was trying to find the note that proved that. It’s kind of convoluted and anti-climactic.
Subplot: Some comet’s going to be visible in Stoneybrook. It’s not Halley’s Comment, but it seems to be comparable. All the kids can’t stop talking about it and the BSC has a comet viewing party. Some of the kids think the comet will make them sick or cause other negative events, but Kristy gets them to calm down. I may have liked this subplot if I read it when I was a kid, but now it just comes off as annoying.
- Did you ever notice how all sorts of landmarks pop up in Stoneybrook for certain books? A country club? An arboretum?
- Janine seems kind of out of character in this one. She’s pretty bitchy to Claud. She’s also having problems with her boyfriend, and is flirting (sort of) with Steve. It’s not unrealistic, but she just seems more immature than usual.
- Claudia comments that teachers get excited when they see Janine’s IQ score. But would teachers see Janine’s IQ scores? I didn’t think that kind of information was typical for a school record, but I could be wrong. Or maybe Janine’s IQ was documented because it’s so high?
- Claudia says that her parents love Janine, but tolerate her. I think it’s kind of sad if she really feels that way.
- The comet story’s boring, but also typical BSC. Of course they have a viewing party. No parents would have wanted to see this rare event WITH their children. And it’s certainly logical to gather as many people in one place so that each person has the least time looking through the one telescope.
- What’s interesting, is that this book takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas, but it isn’t Christmas-themed or anything. Claudia says that Steve’s party’s a Christmas one and mentions shopping, but that’s it. And that makes me think of that mystery with the old diary where Charlotte talks about a book with a similar treatment.
- Janine has to move into Claudia’s room while the Hatts are staying with them because the two Hatt daughters “refused to be separated”…meaning they couldn’t have one girl stay in Claudia’s room and one in Janine’s room. But they kind of have a lot of nerve making that demand when they’re asking the Kishis to host five people for a minimum of two weeks. Especially, if those are two weeks in December when most people are busier than usual.
- Claudia outfit - “I was wearing a white high-collared dentist’s shirt and a loose-fitting Chinese silk jacket, cinched at the waist by a bright-orange scarf, over tight black flared pants. My hair was gathered on top of my head with an orange bandanna.”
- For anyone who ever wondered about the birth order of the Pike triplets, it was Jordan, Adam, Byron. For some reason I always assumed it was alphabetical.
- So, Janine and Claudia hate sharing a room (shocking, I know). But at one point, Janine decides to do some schoolwork at a Wednesday at 5:30. So, Claudia has to turn on call forwarding and meet with the BSC in the living room. But then, Mr. Hatt needs to use that room, so the girls have to keep roaming around the house with a cordless phone. But, anyway, my point is that I don’t think it would have been unreasonable for the Kishi’s to tell Janine she needed to stay out of Claudia’s room for a half hour.
- I think Claudia mysteries are usually good ones, but this one fell a little short. Mainly cause there isn’t really a lot of mystery about it. However, Claudia did call 911 as soon as she saw smoke in the lighthouse, and manages to get Mr. Hatt as soon as she sees the guy at the top of the lighthouse. The girl may suck at school, but she does stay calm in emergencies.
- Janine eats a bunch of Claud’s candy while rooming with her. Which I think is some nice continuity about her personality from one of the early books.
- I don’t really get the motivation for this guy to send notes to the Hatts. He said he wanted to find the note he’d written to Adrian years ago. I don’t really see how sending the notes helps his situation. He should have just broke in and tried to find it himself, without drawing attention to himself. Claudia found the note by accident, so it couldn’t have been too hard to find. And he’s had nine years to work on it.
- The BSC helps the Hatts paint the lighthouse, and Stacey wears a black cashmere coat and silk scarf. Claud has to tell her to change. Would she really be that clueless about it?
- Because this is a mystery, the BSC have a few other suspects for the notes to the Hatts get, but they’re really lame...Adrian’s father, Janine’s boyfriend (because he’s jealous of Steve, or the Hatt daughters (because one of them had been using scissors).
- At the party, Claudia says that people are hanging out outside as well as in. However, like I said, it takes place in Connecticut in December. It’s usually not the time for outdoors parties.
- Kristy leads the rest of the girls over to the guy whose son died and starts talking to him about it. Cause strangers love that.
- I think the whole mystery of why Adrian was in the lighthouse was pretty much obvious when Claudia finds the note, but the girls don’t piece it together until the end when they catch Patrick and he tells them. But maybe it just seemed clear to me because it reminded me of an episode of the “Littles.”