Original Publication Date: 1998
Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles.
Abby comes down with bronchitis and has to take several days off school. She gets bored pretty quickly and spends a lot of time channel surfing. One show she catches sounds like a knock off of America's Most Wanted, and she thinks she recognizes one of her neighbors on it! The BSC helps her do some sleuthing and with some information she gets from calling the show's tip line, they're able to gather enough information to prove that he's living under an assumed name and on the run. They call the cops, and he's arrested in short order, with the TV cameras there to film it.
Subplot: a go-cart race for kids. The Kormans win.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: Hershey's Kisses, Ring Dings
The cover has Abby with short hair, consistent with her getting it cut when Anna was first diagnosed with scoliosis.
Either Kristy has a key to Abby's house, or Abby leaves the door unlocked when she's home. I wouldn't do that if I were too sick to stay awake, but I live in the real world whereas Stoneybrook seems to exist in the 1950s (I know some areas people still leave doors unlocked; but even then I wouldn't if I were sick).
Anna likes birdwatching.
Karen and Andrew's stepfather has an extended carpentry contract (six months, if I recall; a Little Sister book has more detail) in Chicago, and Andrew is staying there for the duration while Karen splits her time between her two parents.
Mrs. Stevenson breastfed Abby and Anna. Quite a feat, considering they're twins and everyone in the BSC-verse seems to use formula.
The Club (and clients):
Stacey says the club treasury has almost enough for a leather jacket she saw at the mall (embezzlement joke). Guess the strawberry festival last book really raked in the cash.
Abby still calls the school bus "Wheeze Wagon."
"Normal" looking people can still be criminals. It's not just the ones who look sketchy.
This is Abby's last mystery book.
It's early June in this book, but it's dark--or at least the sun is set--by around 6:30 or 7:00 in the evening.
Kristy explains she hates the kind of prank calls that end up with an unsuspecting person getting a pizza. I would LOVE someone to randomly order me a pizza. I realize I'd still have to pay for it, but PIZZA. In fact, an hour ago I called my husband and asked him to pick up a pizza on his way home from work.
This book sadly fails to make a bird pun. Abby uses the binoculars her dad had for birdwatching to keep an eye on her neighbor, whose last name is Finch. A finch is also a type of bird, common in suburban yards. I kept expecting someone to ask Abby why she had the binoculars out and her to reply, "Birdwatching."
Starting 8th grade: 10
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4
St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 10
BSC Fights: 11
SMS Staff and Faculty: 67
Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 37 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 139