Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasures Edition #32 – Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #1 – Double Jeopardy

The time has come… Sweet Valley High’s inaugural Super Thriller has arrived! It’s time to get our thrill on! 😉

“Double Jeopardy” (Super Thriller)

svh_double_jeopardy

Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins

When twins, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, land internships at The Sweet Valley News for the summer, they think they’ll be reporting the news, but instead they end up making headlines when Jessica becomes an eyewitness to murder. Adam Maitland, a close friend of the twins’ brother Steven is charged with the murder, and Elizabeth has evidence that could convict him, but Jessica knows he is innocent, because she saw the whole thing – and she sets out to prove it. The problem is the murderer saw Jessica too. Can the twins find the killer before he finds them or will they be caught in a deadly case of mistaken identity?

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are interning at The Sweet Valley News this summer, and they’re both excited about it. Elizabeth hopes to be able to write her own story by the end of the summer and Jessica is trying to land, Seth Miller, a 22-year-old reporter who also is a published mystery writer (don’t I feel like a slacker). Jessica begins to read several mystery novels and then spies on her neighbors, hoping to lure Seth into her clutches by giving him a juicy mystery to solve. But the problem is there just aren’t many devious things going down in Sweet Valley. Undeterred, Jessica decides to just make some up.

First, Jessica tells Seth that she has the inside scoop on a local fire that was really a case of arson. Seth goes and checks it out (with Jessica of course) and is pissed when he gets laughed at when he goes to question actual witnesses. Instead of learning from this experience (both Jessica and Seth, I am shaking my head at both of them) the next day Jessica makes up a wild story about how her next-door neighbor robbed a local bank and buried the money in his backyard. Seth makes Jessica swear she is being straight with him and when she does, he writes the story and hands it in to THE BOSS. (I felt the editor, Mr. Robb, deserved this title because he really does act like THE BOSS.)

Mr. Robb does some basic fact-checking and calls both of them into his office, ready to fire them. I’m with Mr. Robb on this one. Jessica should have been fired – she is just a lowly intern, and what the hell was Seth thinking? Real magazine and newspaper offices are competitive and you don’t trust people on their word alone, you even research what witnesses claim to have seen – he couldn’t make a single phone call? Stupid. (As someone who has worked for a national magazine on the editorial board I am speaking from experience – that is the world of news reporting/publishing.) Jessica takes all the blame and is upset that Seth won’t talk to her when she selflessly (oh yeah, she went there) took the wrap. She is demoted and works for a slave driver in data entry.

Meanwhile Adam Maitland, a good friend of the twins’ brother Steven is staying with the Wakefields for the summer because he is too poor to rent his own place and has his own internship at a prestigious criminal law firm (in the same building that the newspaper offices are in). Jessica is determined to set Elizabeth and Adam up, because she is afraid Elizabeth will suddenly find interest in Seth, even though Elizabeth has a boyfriend (Jeffrey is away at summer camp, working as a camp counselor). Adam is also head over heels for his fiancé (yep, as in engaged) Laurie Hamilton. But Jessica is certain that if they both think the other is interested, they’ll hook up because it works on TV.

She types up a letter ‘from Adam’ to Elizabeth and puts it under her pillow. She typed it because she was smart enough to realize she couldn’t fake Adam’s handwriting or signature, but types Adam’s name so Elizabeth knows it is from him. In the letter ‘Adam’ confesses his love for Elizabeth and asks that she give him time because he doesn’t want to hurt Laurie yet. The letter ends with, “You’re all I really want in this world, and if I can’t figure out something soon, I may have to do something drastic.” Okay, even if this wasn’t a Super Thriller and nothing sinister was going to happen, how is that quote romantic? The word ‘drastic’ is the problem. It is not romantic, it is creepy. If an ‘admirer’ wrote to me that he might have to do something drastic I would be breaking out the pepper spray and a taser – just saying. Anyway, Elizabeth is shocked and decides to hide the letter and not say anything to Adam. Apparently, denial is a girl’s best friend.

Back to the news office… Jessica stays late on the day of her demotion because her slave driver has a lot of work for Jessica to complete. Everyone has already left the office and it is a little past ten at night. I’m thinking child labor laws or something, but also common sense. I have been known to pull some serious overtime, but I have never been the ‘last person’ in the office because I’m smart. I would leave when the last person left, but perhaps that is why I could survive if my life was a horror movie. Safety in numbers!

Jessica leaves at 10:15 and on the way to her car she is seriously creeped out because the parking garage is dark and the security attendant isn’t there. The parking garage is empty except for her car, Adam’s car and a white Trans Am. She heads to her car and that is when she becomes a witness! Dun, dun, dun…. She sees a man carrying something heavy, rolled up in a green blanket, and then a woman’s limp arm falls out of it. The man is dumping a body. Jessica is too shocked to move at first, but then she hurries into her car and takes off, but not before the murderer stares her down with a crazed look in his eyes…

When Jessica gets home she is a wreck, jumping at the slightest thing and yet she doesn’t arm herself (that would be the first thing I would do). Her family is out to a movie, so she calls Seth, who believes her after realizing how hysterical and messed up she sounds on the phone. He picks her up and returns to the parking garage to question the guard (under Jessica’s many protests, but she doesn’t want to be alone) and the guard admits to being gone for about ten minutes to make a call. By the time Seth drives Jessica back to her house, her family has returned.

Seth believes that Jessica is upset, but still doesn’t really believe her. But who can blame him, this would be strike three and the ghostwriter is obviously trying to do a ‘boy who cried wolf’ kind of thing here. Jessica is so scared she isn’t even that miffed that Seth doesn’t believe her. Jessica’s family, however, are also skeptical until Jessica finishes her story. It isn’t the end of her story that gets everyone’s attention, however, but a phone call that Mr. Wakefield receives. Adam has been arrested for the murder of his fiancé!

Adam left the law firm he was interning at that evening, and found Laurie’s body in the trunk of his car. He calls police and is inconsolable, and when the police check the rest of his car they find the murder weapon in his glove compartment. He is immediately taken into custody and charged with Laurie’s murder. I know that I have said it before, but Sweet Valley police really are idiots. He is obviously a mess and why would he call and let them search his vehicle if he had killed Laurie and stashed the murder weapon in the first place they would look?

Jessica is set on clearing Adam’s name and eventually convinces Seth to help her. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is torn over the letter she received ‘from Adam’ and shows it to her father. Remember that drastic comment… He hands it over to the police. The murder (supposedly Sweet Valley’s first – gag) is in the headlines every single day, pointing the finger at Adam. Jessica finds out the police know about the letter and comes clean to them and her father, but no one else. I have to hand it to Jess, I figured she would just try to deflect rather than confess. The police do the first smart thing in Sweet Valley High history and tell Jessica to stay quiet about the letter so the killer will get comfortable and think he has gotten away with it. She is certainly happy to comply with that!

Meanwhile, the police and the twins’ parents have warned them to be careful. There may be a killer in town and he doesn’t know they’re twins, but he did see Jessica. They aren’t allowed to drive the car Jessica was in that night as a precaution. But Jessica breaks this rule and sees the killer behind her, freaks out and goes to the police station (he didn’t seem to notice her apparently) and her parents are furious and hide the keys and ground Jessica, with the exception of work and the newspaper holiday party later that week.

The night of the party, Seth is supposed to pick up the twins, but he gets held up so they are supposed to take Steven’s car, but then Jessica gets a call from the officer working the case and she is afraid he will mention the letter, so she tells Elizabeth that she has to go to the police station, something to do her witness statement, and a police car picks her up. When Elizabeth tries to start up Steven’s car, it won’t. She debates on whether it is safer to take the car they’re forbidden to drive or walk to the bus alone at night. She takes the car.

Jessica positively indentifies Laurie’s killer at the police station and then is dropped off at the office party. On her way inside she sees the white Trans Am in the parking garage and panics. She runs to Seth, but he is busy talking to the killer! Jessica gets him alone and tells him and at first Seth thinks Jessica must be mistaken, but then realizes she is certain and goes to the payphone to call the police. He instructs Jessica to make sure the killer stays put. Seth takes forever, and I mean probably twenty minutes, and I am thinking, “What took so long?” I mean if you call the police and say, “The killer you are looking for is here – help!” it should not be a twenty-minute phone conversation.

The killer leaves after he is tired of Jessica’s stalling tactics and on his way out he sees Elizabeth parking her car and it is the car that jogs his memory. He attacks Elizabeth with a lead pipe, thinking she is Jessica, and the real Jessica comes to her rescue with a tire iron. The real killer is arrested, Adam is freed from jail and no one else ended up dead. Also, Seth and Jessica are given the Laurie Hamilton murder assignment, which could ‘make’ Seth’s career. Hooray for happy endings! 😛

I was so excited to finally get to the first Sweet Valley High Super Thriller! The Super Thrillers were the reason I first got hooked on the series when I was a kid, but out of the first five Super Thrillers I had only read the second one, so this book was brand new to me. I’m either older, wiser or this thriller just didn’t live up to the next thriller on the list. To be honest, it wasn’t all that thrilling. I mean it obviously packed more thrills than a regular Sweet Valley High edition that only has to do with love or silly high school problems, but there are still regular editions that were not thrillers, “Kidnapped!” and even more so “Hostage!” come to mind, that were much more thrilling than this book. Sure, there was a murder, but some of the books without murder were much more, ‘how is this going to play out’ than this book.

I am also convinced that Sweet Valley’s police force is nothing but a bunch of morons in uniform (hey it makes them easily identifiable). I am totally writing about this in the book series season three recap. When Jessica is dropped off at her office party for example, she is dropped off in front of the parking garage where the murder took place. She has to walk through it on her own. Seriously?

But for all of my criticism, the showdown at the end between the twins and the killer was terrific. Not because it was exciting as much as because it was hysterical. A security guard is knocked out by the killer; Jessica clubs the killer in the head with a tire iron and then selflessly lets her twin get away… that scene made the whole book a little more tolerable…


I am hoping this Super Thriller was just trying to find its footing and the next one (which is the one I read back in the day) is actually thrilling. Otherwise, my fond memories are nothing but lies, and I’m not ready to accept that yet. 😛 Until next time!

-DMW

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