This is the first time I read this one, so memory doesn’t really apply.
Stacey, Mary Anne, Kristy, Abby, and Mallory are spending a few days in Salem, Massachusetts on one of their school’s cool but unrealistic field trips. They’re supposed to do a history project about whatever they learn there, but the girls really spend the whole trip solving a mystery.
The case revolved around a famous diamond called the Witch’s Eye that’s rumored to have a curse on it. The current owner’s loaning it to a museum in Salem for display, and it’s immediately stolen. Stacey and Mary Anne are there at the time, and Stacey finds a piece of paper with what she eventually realizes is a safe combination. Later, Mary Anne and Abby find a disguise in some bushes outside the inn they’re staying at, and decide the culprit must also be a guest there.
The suspects are Martha Kempner - a famous mystery writer, who’s writing an article on the diamond, Harvey Hapgood – a guy who offered to buy the diamond a day before it was stolen, and Sean Knowles – who the BSC thinks is spying on the diamond’s owner, but is actually an insurance agent. They briefly consider Mrs. Moorehouse, the diamond’s elderly owner, and/or her nurse, but take her out of the running since she didn’t have insurance and wouldn’t benefit from the theft.
So, for the next few days, the girls talk about the clues while sightseeing, going to a Halloween parade, and dealing with middle school drama. Alan Gray and Cary Retlin both play a bunch of pranks on Kristy and Cookie Mason keeps picking on Mallory’s roommate Eileen. At one point, Abby’s waist pack’s stolen, and the room she and Stacey are staying in is broken into.
At the end of their trip there’s a big storm and the power goes out in the inn. Stacey, Abby, Mary Anne, and Mallory realize that since the room doors are opened with electronic key cards, anyone who left their room after the power went out wouldn’t have been able to lock their doors. They decided to just go ahead and enter the rooms belonging to their suspects, to see if their safes open with the combination Stacey found. Martha Kempler’s opens, and the girls realize she must be connected to the crime. Instead of calling the police or telling their chaperones, they decide to go off to stop her from escaping. But it turns out Martha and her partner (Harvey Hapgood) was watching the girls. The final confrontation happens in a dark hallway. It turns out that Martha had hidden the diamond in a ceramic pumpkin in the gift shop, which Abby had bought, so Marha’s trying to get it back. After a ridiculous scene where Abby physically fights with the culprits the police show up and arrest the thieves. In the middle of all this, the diamond “glows,” in what is supposed to be a sign of it having supernatural powers, or something.
While all this is going on, Kristy was off dealing with her prank war with Alan and Cary. Cary had tricked her, as part of a plan to scare her and Alan Gray. Instead, Alan and Kristy scare each other, then team up to get Cary.
Jessi, Claudia, Shannon, and Logan are keeping the fort down back in Stoneybrook. They end up helping the kids put on a Halloween parade, and deal with Jordan Pike thinking he has magic powers. There’s not much else to say about that.
- Claudia doesn’t go on the trip because her parents are too worried about her grades, and Jessi doesn’t go because she is in a Halloween dance at Stoneybrook University. Claudia I can understand, but what exactly is a Halloween dance?
- Stacey outfit: “Black jeans, black boots, black turtleneck, silver cropped top over that, black boots with silver side buttons and silver X earrings.” I’m not sure why (or how) she was wearing two pairs of boots, but other than that it sounds decent.
- When talking about the Scarlett Letter, Stacey comments about how awful the movie was. This was written in 1996, so I’m assuming she means the Demi Moore one. You know you’ve made a bad movie when it gets trashed in a kids book.
- Now for a little game….which of the following outfits was worn by Claudia, and which was worn by the poor-fashion-less girl everyone makes fun of? Answer at the end of this post.
- “Doc Martens with pumpkin stickers, a hand-batiked shirt in orange and black, plus one orange sock and one black sock.”
- “A huge purple dress, a puffy orange windbreaker, and these really clunky shoes. Her hair stuck out in spikes beneath a wool hat that had a pattern of white snowflakes on a red background.”
- Why would a thief carry around a piece of paper with a safe combination when they’re stealing a diamond? She wouldn’t need the combination until she got back to her hotel room.
- The museum the diamond was stolen from, is part of a complex of museums/historic buildings. A group from SMS is there, with kids splitting up to go to various sections. After the theft, Mary Anne and Stacey are separated. Mary Anne ends up outside and sees that the complex is closing. The police are taking everyone’s name, and they tell her that everyone else from SMS went back to the inn and she should do the same. Now, what the hell kind of chaperons just leaves the area without all their students? Especially when a crime has just taken place.
- As soon as theft occurs, Mallory decides she HAS to have the mystery notebook to write down clues. Writing them in another notebook’s just not an option for her. It seems a bit out of character for her to be so obsessive about it, but whatever. She has Jessi give the notebook to the spouse of one of the teachers, who’s joining the trip a day later. How Jessi gets it to this person, I don’t know.
- Kristy’s upset that she wasn’t around when the theft occurred, or when Abby and Mary Anne found the disguise. So, when she finds what she thinks is a clue, she sneaks off by herself to investigate, hoping to solve the thing herself. It ends up being Cary’s trick, and Kristy ends up annoyed that they “solved” the case without her.
- For part of the trip, Mary Anne’s watching the daughter of one of the teachers on the trip. I guess they needed to have some baby-sitting in there (even though we got some in the Stoneybrook chapters).
- Martha wanted to steal the diamond from the museum, because she had previously tried to buy it from Mrs. Moorehouse, and didn’t want a connection being there. So, why did her partner offer to buy the diamond from Mrs. Moorehouse (in public) right before the stole it? That’s just calling attention to yourself.
- The girls come up with some relatively cute last-minute costumes. (Claudia helped via the phone):
- Kristy wore her collie hat, a necklace made of dog biscuits, and went around with a magnifying glass and a name tag reading “Sherlock Bones.”
- Mary Anne went as a boring cat like she always does.
- Stacey went as Mother Time (all black and numbers painted on her face).
- Abby went as the women’s soccer World Cup (a soccer shirt, and a blow-up globe and plastic cup tied to her arms.
- Mallory was a pumpkin patch, which is more creative than just a pumpkin I guess. She dressed orange, and pinned pumpkins cut out from orange paper all over her, tied with green yarn.
- Apparently Stacey’s so good with math, that when she sees a set of numbers, she instantly memorizes them (which is how she remembers the safe combination after giving the piece of paper to the police). I don’t remember hearing about that skill before.
- Why do these kids always write letters to each other when the person out-of-town will be home in a day?
- During the Alan/Cary incident, Alan’s trying to scare Cary and tells him Kristy’s baby-sitting, but might have followed him. But Cary’s all, “oh no. Kristy’s way too responsible a baby-sitter to put a child at risk like that.” Now really, what 13-year-old boy says stuff like that?
- After Martha’s safe opens, Mallory does some actual thinking and remembers that on the morning of the theft, Martha wore sneakers (to run away quietly), and every other time they’ve seen her she’s been in high heels (that make a lot of noise). So, they don’t completely luck into solving this one.
- I’m trying to figure out how these girls avoided getting into trouble with their teachers for wandering off during the storm and getting so mixed up with the thieves.
- I also can’t believe these girls actually walked into other people’s hotel rooms and tried opening their safes.
- At the end, Mrs. Moorehouse tells the girls how Abby ended up with the diamond because the theft took longer than she thought and didn’t have time to get back to her room before the police came around….so she hid it in the pumpkin in the gift shop. But how would Mrs. Moorehouse know that? The last we saw of Martha was her telling her partner not to talk to the cops and asking for a lawyer. I don’t think she was ready to confess.
- After Martha’s been arrested Kristy suddenly shows up, and the rest of the girls ask how she found them. And she’s like, “oh that doesn’t matter.” Which seems like the ghostwriter’s way of admitting it doesn’t make sense but she put it in anyway.
- Answer to the fashion game? Claudia wore the stickered Doc Martens and Eileen (the fashion disaster) wore the purple and orange ensemble. I think they're both pretty awful.