Another Super Thriller (I confess, they’re always my favorite) for your reading (guilty!) pleasure. They’ve covered crazed killers, witness protection and the mob hits so far, next up: A wannabe ghost story. Is it a ghost story or is it real life? Read on and find out! 😉
“No Place To Hide” (Super Thriller)
Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins
When Elizabeth Wakefield invites Nicholas Morrow on a picnic to help cure his blues, her plan has some unexpected results. Nicholas falls in love with Barbara, a beautiful girl who is involved in the twins’ most dangerous mystery yet. Barbara tells Nicholas that they must hide their relationship from her uncle who she is staying with. Hearing the fear in Barbara’s voice, Nicholas decides to tell the twins and the three of them start investigating. The more they find out… the more desperate Barbara’s situation seems. Then Elizabeth is threatened by an anonymous caller. Now the twins face a terrible choice: either give up their search and leave Barbara in deadly trouble, or save Barbara’s life – and risk their lives, and Nicholas’s!
It’s the summer and the twins are still interning at The Sweet Valley News so you know they’re about to get their scary on. Sweet Valley is gearing up for a mayoral election and Jessica is bored with the whole thing and thinks some guy named Kincaid should win because he’s handsome (and in his sixties – really Jess!) but everyone else is leery of him. No one seems to know much about Kincaid and what they do know seems sketchy at best. Everyone else at the paper is backing Kincaid’s opponent Miles Robinson. And since this is all covered in the first chapter, you know it’s going to come back up again later. 😛
The newspaper is having a company picnic in Ronoma, about forty miles away from Sweet Valley. Elizabeth invites Nicholas Morrow because she is worried about him. He has been so depressed lately (um his sister died tragically, so he kind of should be). When he gets there he isn’t even trying to make an effort, and decides to take a walk in the woods. Elizabeth doesn’t want to leave the picnic, but doesn’t feel right about letting Nicholas be by himself and goes with him. They come across a large, spooky house on the cliffs called Bayview House (there’s actually a sign in front of its gate – yep it has a gate too). That’s when they meet Barbara.
Barbara is Elizabeth’s age, gorgeous and from Switzerland. (Either Francine or the ghostwriters have an obsession with Switzerland. It’s where Regina went for her deaf cure, and the where the boarding school Elizabeth considered attending was located.) She is staying with her uncle and the house’s very old housekeeper, but something seems off. Her uncle suddenly calls for her, and Barbara seems seriously scared. She runs away before anyone can say goodbye because she said her uncle becomes furious if she doesn’t come as soon as he calls for her.
Nicholas is distraught because he doesn’t have her number or her last name, so he decides to return to the house the next day. When he knocks on the door, the creepy uncle answers and tells Nicholas to get lost and never come back. Nicholas gets in his jeep and begins to drive away when he hears Barbara’s dog barking and gets out to find Barbara singing in the woods. I found this strange, but apparently I was the only one. She is in an old-fashioned dress (like the day before) and Nicholas loses it. His mind, his self-respect – take your pick, but the next moment he is declaring his undying love for Barbara and the girl doesn’t seem to think it’s strange at all. I mean if it were me it would make me think it was time to get a restraining order or something, but whatever. Barbara says they can meet, but her uncle must never find out or they would all be in terrible danger. Bum, bum, bum…
Back at The News the twins receive their first big feature assignments: Elizabeth is covering the election with Seth Miller while Jessica is paired with Dan Weeks and covering a story on a famous artist named Paul Lazarow who started an artist colony in Ronoma County back in the forties. The twins stop by Nicholas’s house after work and he asks them to come with him to see Barbara. When they get there, they see a Jaguar parked in the driveway that hadn’t been there before. When Barbara comes down she warns them that they need to leave. Her Uncle John has a visitor and he always seems upset when the visitor is there. Suddenly, Barbara’s dog starts growling and Nicholas and the twins hide just in time. Uncle John grabs Barbara, twisting her arm and then kicks her dog. I know the twins had to hold Nicholas back because of how he was grabbing a hold of Barbara, but I just kept thinking, “Oh, puppy!” He makes it clear she has to do everything he says and talk to no one while she is staying there and then drags her into the house.
The next day at work, Jessica remarks how it is strange that neither of them had ever heard of Ronoma until a few days ago, and then Jessica’s story is about an artist and his artist colony in Ronoma, and Elizabeth finds out that Kincaid who she is researching for the upcoming elections, studied art and wanted to be a professional artist in high school. I just think it’s strange that the ghostwriter has to point all of this out in the most obvious, let me hit you over the head with it, way possible.
If that wasn’t obvious enough, Nicholas’s next visit to the Bayview House has just what you’re looking for. Barbara tells Nicholas how she can’t sleep and keeps having a recurring nightmare, about a man chasing her off the cliffs near the house. There’s a birthday cake in her dreams too. Oh and by the way, her birthday is next week, and she was born on the same day as her grandmother was, who she was also named after, and that grandmother died on her birthday by falling off those same cliffs. Also they look identical; it’s kind of creepy. And Barbara’s great-grandfather was an artist. I think that about does it, oh and Nicholas sees the Jaguar parked in its spot again. Barbara warns Nicholas that he and the twins are in danger because her uncle is kind of cray cray.
Nicholas has lunch with the twins the next day and tells them all about his last visit with Barbara. On the way back from lunch he finds a note on his windshield warning him to stay away from Barbara. Elizabeth wants to call the police but Nicholas says they can’t because Barbara’s uncle will hurt the old housekeeper (Josine) so then Elizabeth tells Nicholas to listen to the note, but he can’t because he is so in love. 😛 Nicholas doesn’t tell Barbara about the note and convinces her to let him take her to town for dinner. She agrees and I can’t understand why when she is so afraid of what might happen to her or Josine. When they get to the restaurant, Nicholas sees the Jaguar parked outside and he’s sure it is the same one. But because he is a moron, and promised to keep it light, he doesn’t tell Barbara about it. Way to play it safe, Nicky. There’s a man at a nearby table who cannot stop staring at Barbara, and I mean staring in the kind of way that would make you leave, say something to have the guy arrested. Luckily, Barbara’s back is to the man and she doesn’t notice. When Nicholas drops Barbara off, he notices the Jaguar parked off the road, empty.
The next day Nicholas stops by the twins’ house and recognizes the man from the other night from a picture in the paper, and he is none other than mayor candidate Russell Kincaid. Nicholas decides he must tell Barbara, even though he has been warned to never come by during the day. When he gets there he finds Barbara in regular clothes (you know, jeans) and not the old-fashioned dresses she usually wears. She has been crying and she tells Nicholas that her dog is missing and she is sure her uncle has taken him as some kind of warning. Nicholas helps her look, and after awhile (no luck) he goes back to his jeep to find all four tires slashed and the windshield busted.
The next day Nicholas goes to the art museum with the twins who are checking out Paul Lazarow’s exhibit. They’re all shocked when they see a painting of Barbara, entitled “Artist’s Daughter” and now Jessica is positive that Barbara is really a ghost. I mean the real Barbara has even worn the dress from the painting! They go through the newspaper archives and find out Russell Kincaid was part of Paul Lazarow’s artist colony and was one of Lazarow’s most promising students. Wait, wait, wait. You mean all this stuff is somehow connected? 😯 The three of them go to Barbara’s house and overhear her talking with Josine in the woods. Barbara pleads with Josine to tell her what really happened to her grandmother, and Josine says that she was murdered.
The next night Liz is back in the archives and finds an article about Russell Kincaid and how he was questioned in Barbara’s grandmother’s death. Upon closer inspection she realizes why Kincaid looks so familiar, besides his pictures always being in the papers. He looks like Uncle John! She realizes that they must be brothers just as the telephone rings. The caller threatens Elizabeth, saying to stay away from Barbara and that she and her sister are being watched. Of course nobody listens to the warning and they find some more articles in the archives about how Russell Kincaid and a boy named Jack were competing for Barbara’s grandmother’s affection. (Um, how is that newspaper worthy back in the forties?)
Now they’re all convinced that John is going to kill Barbara on her birthday, but without any evidence they can’t go to the police so they make a desperate plan to kidnap her instead. Seriously? The plan is for Elizabeth to distract John at the front of the house while Nicholas goes around back and retrieves Barbara. All the while, Jessica will stay in the car and keep the engine running. But Jessica is too worried to stay put and finds Liz on the ground – she sprained her ankle badly. Elizabeth tells Jessica to hurry to the door and distract whoever is there or all is lost and she’ll crawl to the car. But as soon as Jessica is gone, before Elizabeth can even change directions, John comes at her with a pistol. She gets him to admit to being Kincaid’s brother, and admit he doesn’t want his brother to be mayor so he brought the real Barbara out so that his brother would think he was seeing a ghost. Ugh, so stupid. I think a ghost angle would have been cooler. 😛 Then he knocks Elizabeth out.
There’s no one at the house and Jessica and Nicholas hear a scream just as they see Russell Kincaid trying to push Barbara off the cliff, and they both go over. When they make it to the cliff’s edge they see Barbara is still holding on to a ledge, but Kincaid is gone. They pull Barbara up and they start to search for Liz. They find Josine tied up in the house and she rambles a lot before telling them John was carrying Liz off to the art studio on the property. They rush to the studio and find Liz and Barbara’s dog (oh puppy!) inside. John is long gone. Nicholas calls an ambulance for Liz and she and Jessica go to the hospital while Nicholas and Barbara go to the police station.
Almost done – promise! So Elizabeth has a concussion and a sprained ankle but is fine so that’s that. Jessica goes to the police station to answer some questions and she, Barbara and Nicholas see John being hauled into the station. He was caught trying to flee to Mexico. He confesses to everything, and then tells everyone the real story of what happened all those years ago: His brother Russell was a part of Lazarow’s artist colony and he was obsessed with Barbara’s grandmother. Not in love – obsession, they’re quite different. But Barbara (the first one) was in love with another artist in the colony named Jack. They married in secret because her father was overprotective until she had a baby (present day Barbara’s mother). Russell went crazy with jealousy and lured Barbara out to the cliff and then pushed her over. He was questioned, but never officially charged. Afterwards, John and Russell went into business together after that and everything was good until Russell wanted to run for mayor, hoping for the fame that escaped him when he gave up being an artist. When John wouldn’t support him, Russell ended their partnership and took him for millions of dollars. John didn’t mean for his brother to die or to try to kill Barbara, he just hoped he could convince his brother he was insane so he would drop out of the race and they could go back to being in business together. (He didn’t really think that one through, did he?) So he convinced Barbara’s parents he was related to them, and had Barbara dress up in her grandmother’s clothes and walk along the cliffs so that Russell would see her and think he was seeing the first Barbara’s ghost.
Everything else we get from Josine. Josine says that Jack went mad with grief and Barbara’s mother was adopted by friends in Europe, which is why she knows so little about her family. But Jack is still alive and he and Barbara have a sweet (and emotional) reunion. He leaves for Switzerland with Barbara, realizing it isn’t too late… The end. 🙂
Well if that isn’t a craptastic book, I don’t know what is! But I still think that this is the best Super Thriller so far – I’m not sure if that’s a happy or sad thing. 😛 Until next time!