Original Publication Date: 1998
Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles.
Kristy is watching some of her younger siblings play around the neighborhood when Cary Retlin stops by. As they banter, a shot rings out near one of the mansions just as the police are showing up, acting on an anonymous tip. The house belongs to one Reinhart Golem (what a name!), and his security guard was called away just before the gunshot. All the distractions appear to have been a ruse to get to the diamonds hidden in a vault in the mansion. Kristy notices a red cat stenciled on the mailbox, which turns out to be the calling card of a particular cat burglar. It also seems that a few of the Stoneybrook police officers are suspicious of Sgt Johnson, the one who's often involved in the mysteries the BSC solves. They think it's very odd that he got to the crime scene as quickly as he did. Even the BSC has to admit that some thing seem suspicious.
While the BSC and Cary are looking around the burgled property, the owner comes out and introduces himself, seemingly unaware of their poking around. He invites them in and discusses the case with them, even offering them a reward if they solve it. The BSC does find some interesting clues, but during the course of the crime scene investigation, Sgt Johnson ends up arrested. The BSC and Cary agree that something doesn't seem right, and pool resources to find out who really committed the crime. In a bizarre turn of events, Kristy, Mary Anne, Abby, and Cary end up being held prisoner briefly in the mansion: the owner is the cat burglar. Fortunately for them, the rest of the BSC realized the truth at the same time and sent the police over. Sgt Johnson is exonerated, and the BSC promises him that they'll stay out of the mystery-solving business...for now, anyway.
Subplot: Charlotte Johanssen, inspired by the Harriet the Spy book and movie, starts keeping notes on her friends. Predictably, it backfires and the BSC helps her deal with the fallout.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: caramel butter popcorn, chocolate wafer cookies, salsa-flavored corn chips, Butterfinger bars
There was no new information that jumped out at me.
Their Families: nothing stood out.
The Club (and clients):
Kristy says she never misses a BSC meeting, but in the last book she visited Abby's grandparents for the party (Anna had a friend come too) and missed a meeting, plus there were others in the early books. More accurate would be that she tries to never miss a meeting, because there have a been a few here and there.
SMS: summer break.
No matter how interesting clues found at a crime scene, don't touch them unless you're one of the official investigators. Just point them out the right people. The only time you should disturb a crime scene is if there's a victim still alive who needs help.
Hooray! This is the last mystery book (and obviously the last one with Kristy).
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: 11
BSC Fights: 12
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: 143