Friday, September 26, 2008

The Wrong Number, or “Rescuing Puppies Isn’t All It Cracked Up To Be”


Let’s start with the cover. There is a full moon shining over a creepy street (not Fear Street), and it looks like Deena and Jade are having a sleepover. Deena’s wearing a slouchy, almost-off-the-shoulder pink pajama top, which I’m sure I’ve owned at some point in my life. Jade is wearing some tiny little slip, which I’m sure I’ve never owned. Look at her legs, it’s like they’re starring in the book. This scene never happens, but they certainly look scared, good for you, cover artist! Tagline: It began as a prank … and ended in murder! Points for referencing murder, and using both an ellipsis and an exclamation mark.

This Fear Street begins with a prologue (and why shouldn’t it?) The main plot in the book is interspersed with the murderer (who is a he) talking about his foolproof plan, and how he was forced into it. Okay, crazy murderer guy. Then we begin the real story, with Jade and Deena putting green goop in Jade’s hair. This is to show that Jade is both beautiful, and vain, I think. Deena confesses that she’s distracted, since her half-brother Chuck is moving in with her family, after being expelled from his last school. Ooh, a bad boy. Jade, and me a little bit, are interested. Anyways, the girls get bored and start making prank calls. The most interesting is when shy flustered Deena calls her crush Rob and acts like a sex goddess. Awesome!

The next day Deena goes to pick up her brother from the airport. Chuck acts like a dick, then he rescues a puppy from a burning car. How conflicting. Chuck the badass is a real hero, with a soft spot for puppies. Did we all just melt? But other than his puppy-loving ways, he continues to be a dick. This continues until he catches the girls making prank calls again, and he threatens to tattle (because he’s a badass, I guess) unless he can join in. He calls a bomb threat to the bowling alley. So things have gone from harmless to criminal. Way to take it up a notch, Chuck. Deena freaks out, which I think is legit, but Jade threatens to tell Rob about his mystery caller if she doesn’t go along with them. Meanwhile Chuck and Jade are making out all the time.

Deena is held hostage by this, so she’s down with more calls. Badass Chuck is interested in Fear Street, and calls a number there, only he calls to interrupt a murder. A woman pleads for help, then a man comes on to tell them they have the wrong number. Eek! They go to investigate the house, and find the body of a woman, stabbed to death. Chuck goes over and picks up the murder weapon, because why not? That should be fun. Clearly this was written in the days before CSI, where we all learnt to NOT PICK UP THE MURDER WEAPON. The murderer surprises them and they take off. Unfortunately, the murderer follows them to their house and knows where they live. This is never good. They make an anonymous call to the police.

Only it’s not so anonymous, since the police come right away to Deena and Chuck’s house to arrest them. I love a Fear Street where the police are involved. Deena is released, but Chuck is held on 1st degree murder because his prints are all over the murder weapon. Stupid, Chuck, at least we have CSI now to help us know what NOT to do at a crime scene. Jade and Deena confess to everything (the prank calls, including the bomb threat, which is not so cool). I’m surprised they aren’t arrested. There’s an awesome line where Deena’s dad says: ‘Do you mean to say that this whole thing began with a prank phone call?’ and Jade replies in a whisper: ‘And it ended in murder.’ Way to repeat the tagline, Jade, a little overdramatic, non?

It becomes the girls’ mission to get Chuck out of jail, so they decide to do some investigating. Because the actual police are incompetent. They go to see the husband of the murdered woman, a Mr. Farberson, and recognize his voice as that of the murderer. So they full on stalk him. Their stalking involves, like, wigs and aliases. They really get into it. They find out that Mr. Farberson owns a failing Italian restaurant, is having an affair with his former office assistant, and has two one way tickets to Rio. Good circumstantial evidence, but hardly a smoking gun. The girls have to go deeper.

They decide to go back to the house on Fear Street, where the murder happened, to prove Mr. Farberson was the stabber. They break in and find a letter from Mrs. Farberson to her husband, saying she won’t give him any more of her inheritance to support his failing business. I love it when things are spelled out for us. Motive for murder: check. Unfortunately for our junior detectives, Mr. Farberson comes home and comes after them. They try to escape, but their plan is foiled by Deena’s poncho, when Mr. Farberson pulls it down over her arms, trapping her. Okay, A) How does this lead to Deena being totally trapped? Just pull the damn thing off, and B) Who wears a poncho to break into somebody’s house?

The girls are “trapped” and decide to escape by climbing down a tree out of the window. Only Mr. Farberson takes a chainsaw to the tree. Keep in mind this is in the middle of the night. Nothing says inconspicuous NON murderer like getting out your chainsaw in the middle of the night, Mr. Farberson. Apparently somebody picks up on this, and the cops are called. They say Mr. Farberson was their main suspect all along, and they were only keeping Chuck in jail so he wouldn’t get suspicious and run. Is that … constitutional? I’m fuzzy on American laws, I could be wrong, but can the police just do that? No mind, Chuck is now a better man after his stint in the big house, and vows to do nothing but rescue puppies and make out with Jade from now on. Things end when shy Deena is asked out by hunky Rob. He’s figured out that she’s the sex goddess of his inappropriate phone calls, and wants to get to first base with her. Isn’t high school romantic?

The Wrong Number was alright. There was a suggestive cover, an actual murder, incompetent police, and some PG action. And it ended up with near-death by CHAINSAW! That’s got to be worth something! I give it 4 chainsaws out of 5.

12 comments:

LAK said...

Puppies! I love how there was a puppy rescue! And a near death by chainsaw. And how the girls didn't die and both found love (or lurve).

Wait a minute...this sounds like a REALLY bad Harlequin novel. From the suspense line. Not that I would know that in any way. I'm just saying....

L. K. Stine said...

I was thinking this would be an excellent romance plot. Somebody should just read the back of a book, and write an actual book based on those. The quick write up of the plot can be the most exhilirating part of the book!

LAK said...

I think you just found yourself your next project! You could start your own series-or even make it an online serial.

Chad Walters said...

To answer your question about American law: no, the police cannot do that. They CAN hold you with no evidence for a certain period of time (either 24 or 48 hours, I don't remember), but after that they have to charge you or let you go.

And I'm not sure if it's unconstitutional, but I feel like it is; I just can't pinpoint off the top of my head the part of the Constitution that deal with that.

Anonymous said...

Except it didn't really began as a prank and end in murder. The two were related only by coincidence.

My only ideas for turning Fear Street into a romance series is to replace every instance of "murder" with "love." "It began as a prank... and ended in love." Instant movie tagline. Actually, this may have happened already in the series, judging from all the violent boyfriends.

zanne said...

This is one of my favorite Fear Street books.

A. M. Stine said...

Anon, your idea is genius! I believe we must now replace all deadly words in taglines (murder, death, corpse, etc.) with love words!

L. K. Stine said...

But that might lead to a tagline like: Sometimes love can be ... love! Nonsensical, but I but we could swing it.
lak, sweet idea re: online serials. But I think if I do any fan fiction, it will be about my favourite FS character, Suki Thomas.

Mandy said...

Still laughing about the poncho. Now I'm imagining her running around the house frantically, her arms pinned down to her sides.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was two tickets to Argentina. Not rio

Justin Duhe said...

Puppies, Prank calls, murder, PG sexiness, unconstitutional police work and...ponchos!

RecallerReminder said...

Even if I readed the sequel first, I really enjoyed this book. Whew, how hard was in the old times with phones limitations. That what makes this a real classic!