I was really glad when I tracked down a copy of this book, because it’s one I have a lot of memories about. The first is that it has a totally unoriginal plot – two people think they overhear criminals plotting something, only to find out later they were actors (or something similar). Now, when I was younger, I didn’t know it was unoriginal. But then I went through a phase of watching old TV shows, and saw this exact plot on episodes of both I Love Lucy and Three’s Company (and possibly others). Both of these shows were on before the BSC existed, but I hadn’t seen them before I first read this book. So, when I saw those particular episodes, I thought, “hey, that’s just like the Jessi Mystery!”
The other thing that stands out in my mind’s that Stacey explains to Jessi how to take a cab and how much you’re expected to tip. She tells her a trick for figuring out 15% is to take ten percent and add half. For the longest time I thought of that every time I was in a restaurant figuring out tips.
Jessi’s friend Quint is in some big ballet performance in NY, and he invited her to come see it. She’s staying with Stacey, who’s visiting her dad for the weekend. On Friday night, Jessi’s at Quint’s apartment for dinner and they’re hanging out by an open window that looks out on the building next-door. They overhear two men arguing about stealing some jewels. Then, because open windows go both ways, the thieves hear Quint’s mother calling out their names. This makes Jessi and Quint worry that the thieves will stalk them to get them to stay quiet (or something), but they also think the police will laugh at them if they report it. So, they decide to “search for evidence.”
The next morning, Jessi’s back at Quint’s and they overhear the same two men (Frank and Red) talking, and then see them leaving the building. So, of course Jessi and Quint follow them. They trail the “thieves” all over the city, but never find any evidence, or even information, about where/when this jewel heist’s going to take place. They lose Frank and Red in the afternoon, but later that night Jessi sees them in the audience at Quint’s ballet. This freaks her out, because she’s sure she and Quint are being followed.
Jessi and Quint decide to follow Frank and Red again on Sunday. However, they lose them, because the thieves go in some fancy jewelry store that kicks Jessi and Quint out. But back at Quint’s, they see Frank and Red return to their apartment pretty quickly. Jessi and Quint overhear their argument, which is pretty much word for word the argument they had the other night…and is the biggest hint that these guys aren’t real criminals. But, the ghostwriter wanted to spell it out, so then we hear Frank flub his line. Red laughs, they mention scripts, and Jessi and Quint realize the two are actors. Their immediate reaction’s to crack up, and I really like that they don’t mind laughing at themselves.
Now, this whole time, Jessi has been a little worried about talking to Quint. See, she’s decided that she isn’t ready for a serious boyfriend, let alone a long-distance one. She wanted to tell Quint that they should just be friends. She manages to do this at the end and he agrees. And then I think we go awhile without hearing from him again.
Not even worthy of being a subplot: Jessi’s parents and Aunt Cecilia are out of town this same weekend (for a wedding), so Becca gets stuck staying at the Pikes. She’s miserable at first, but Mary Anne gets her to feel better. Dramatic stuff, huh?
- At the BSC meeting, the girls are talking about their sitting jobs at the Pike house on the upcoming weekend. On Sunday, there’s only one sitter needed, because as Mal said, “My parents are taking us older kids to a concert.” Which sounds like a really weird way to phrase things. Why not, “My parents are taking me, Vanessa, and the triplets to a concert”?
- Jessi tells us that she and Stacey have to miss a BSC meeting on Friday because they’re taking a 4:30 train to NYC. But then at the train station, they board a 5:05 train.
- Jessi thinks the cab driver will appreciate her kindness at giving a dollar tip instead of 90 cents. As he should….I mean, with ten extra cents you can buy, what? A piece of gum? That’s a big deal.
- Jessi and Quint lose Frank and Red at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, because they see a sign saying “Pay what you wish, but you must pay something,” and realize they don’t have any extra money. But couldn’t they theoretically pay a really small amount? I mean between the two of them they should have been able to come up with a few coins at least.
- The cover of the book has the teaser line that, “They don’t have criminals like these in Stoneybrook.” Which is true. In Stoneybrook they have worse criminals.
- Two chapters are devoted to sitting jobs at the Pikes, one on Saturday (by Mallory and Mary Anne) and one on Sunday (just Claudia). Only at the beginning of the Saturday chapter, the notebook entry’s dated Sunday and is in Claud’s handwriting. In front of the Sunday chapter, the notebook entry’s dated Saturday, and is in Mary Anne’s handwriting. That’s probably something I wouldn’t have noticed as a kid, because I often skipped those notebook pages.
- I’m trying to figure out the relationship between Frank and Red, and what type of show they are in. They seem to live together, and spend pretty much the whole weekend together either rehearsing or going to the Central Park, art museums, jewelry stores, and the ballet.
- Byron gets Becca to try pancakes with ketchup on them. What’s with the Pike’s and horrible food combinations?
- The entire BSC comes to the train station to welcome Jessi and Stacey home. When they were gone two days. That seems like overkill.
- At Claudia’s sitting job for the Pikes, she wants to do something special with the kids. So she decides on an art project where they “make dragons.” Which seems really random. But, the kids get into it and make a bunch of cardboard creatures with yarn, paint, and other stuff.
- Jessi thinks that her parents were glad to let her go to NY because then they only needed to find childcare for Becca while they were away. I guess they decided leaving an 11-year-old in charge for a weekend wasn’t a good idea.
- Jessi keeps referring to Quint as the first boy she ever kissed. But isn’t he also the only boy she’s kissed? I would think that’s how she’d phrase it.
- Mr. McGill says he wants to take Stacey, Jessi, and Quint out to lunch – his treat. Stacey tells Jessi to pick the place, and Jessi picks the Palm Court, the restaurant in the Plaza. Now, I’m just speculating here, but that’s likely an expensive place, right? Isn’t it kind of rude to pick something like that when the other person’s paying?
- When Mary Anne’s sitting at the Pikes, Becca tries to “run away” so she can sleep in her backyard. She asks Mary Anne to come with her, so Dawn comes to the Pikes to be the second sitter (with Mal). I wonder if she got paid for this. Is it weird that that’s the first thing I thought of?
- Stacey laughs (but not in a mean way) when Jessi asks she can read the comics in the New York Times. Because no one in NY would ever read a comic strip. Everyone in that city’s sophisticated and only reads serious stuff. Even thirteen-year-olds.
- I must be getting old, because when Jessi and Quint complain about getting kicked out of the jewelry store, I just feel like I agreed with the store. Who wants eleven-year-olds with no intention of making a purchase hang out in their store?
- Jessi and Quint want to follow the thieves, so when they get in a cab, Jessi jumps into another one and says, “Follow that cab.” She says she always wanted to do that, which I guess I can understand. The cab driver goes along with it cause he thinks they are just kids playing a game. I wonder what would happen if someone did that as an adult.
- Jessi’s worried about telling Stacey about the thieves, cause she thinks Stacey will worry about her. But when she finally tells her, Stacey’s excited, because as Jessi says, “everyone in the BSC loves mysteries.” This line sounds really familiar, and I’m starting to think it’s included in almost every mystery book.