Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasures Edition #61 – Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #4 – Deadly Summer

I have to say that this Super Thriller was the best one yet! It was the normal Sweet Valley silliness meets a paranoid schizophrenic genius bomb maker (I admit I kept flashing back to episodes of “Criminal Minds” and “24”). This is one Super Thriller you won’t want to miss! 😉

“Deadly Summer” (Super Thriller)

svh_deadly_summer

Sweet Valley Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Twins

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are working as summer interns at The Sweet Valley News when they hear that a patient has escaped from a nearby psychiatric hospital. Elizabeth is assigned to research the man’s past for an article and discovers that the man, Donald Redman, was once a student at Sweet Valley High. She learns that his classmates tormented him and after a disturbing incident with another student, whom Redman was obsessed with, Redman was expelled. He vowed to get revenge for all of his humiliation. Now a fugitive, Redman sees Elizabeth and mistakes her for the beautiful, popular girl who hurt him the most all those years ago. When their paths cross in the deserted high school stadium, Redman knows he finally has his chance to get even once and for all! Can he be stopped before it’s too late?

It’s time to time travel (again) as we go back to summer in another Sweet Valley High Super Thriller. Lila Fowler is back from Europe and she and Jessica are obsessed with the Ouija board she has brought back. Elizabeth teases them about it, and Lila gets pissed. She wants to get back at Elizabeth and convinces Jessica to help her. They decide to make Elizabeth believe in the Ouija board so she’ll have to eat her words. First it starts with the Endless Summer concert. The concert is a big deal and Lila knows that it is going to be postponed a week, even though it hasn’t been announced. Lila and Jessica get Elizabeth to try the Ouija board and it predicts the concert’s delay. Liz thinks that is ridiculous until about ten minutes later when Seth Miller from the paper calls, and tells her the concert has been postponed (they were doing an article on it). Liz is rattled about the Ouija board’s prediction and once again I wonder where her sense is. Jessica and Lila keep laying it on thick, when Jessica reads some of Liz’s private letters from her boyfriend, Jeffrey French, who is away as a summer camp counselor upstate to make other “private” predictions that only Elizabeth could possibly know. Liz, with your sister, you should know better than to believe, “No, I didn’t read your letters, honest.” Whenever Jessica is honest, you know the opposite of what she says is true. They also hide Liz’s journal and when the Ouija board “finds it” for her, Elizabeth is hooked even if she doesn’t say so. She is convinced that the Ouija board is not only for real, but accurate too.

Ouija Board

The next day word gets out that a man has escaped from a nearby psychiatric hospital and Elizabeth is assigned to do some background research on him because he is a Sweet Valley native. His name is Donald Redman and he is a paranoid schizophrenic who used to go to Sweet Valley High. When he was a student he was obsessed with this pretty and popular blonde (yep) and kept asking her out, but she kept turning him down. And so it became this colossal joke at school. Then he kidnapped the girl and that got him expelled, but in his mind it was all her fault. Then he tried to kill his parents and got himself committed. Oh, he was also a genius with electronics, specifically when it came to making bombs. Elizabeth goes off to her babysitting job and mentions the escaped patient to the mother, Elsa, who is really freaked out. But Elizabeth just takes her freak-out as normal “I’m a mother whose husband isn’t home” stuff, and I wonder how in the world she is supposed to be the Nancy Drew of the Wakefield family. At this point I was seriously thinking that Elsa was the chick Redman kidnapped. I mean she is pretty and blonde…

When Elizabeth gets back, Jessica and Lila put the final stage of their Ouija board joke in motion. Somehow Lila has convinced Jessica that it would be hilarious to have undeniable proof that Elizabeth is a believer and what better way than to get her to do something she would never otherwise do. So she suggests that the board predict that Bruce Patman is terminally ill. If Elizabeth believes it she’ll go out of her way to be extra nice to him, when she usually wouldn’t give him the time of day because she doesn’t like him that much. And since the prediction will also disclose that it’s a secret, they won’t have to worry about her asking Bruce about it. They do that and it works like a charm. Again, Liz get some sense! The truth behind this “joke” is that it is really a scheme Lila has thought up to land Jeffrey as her man. She figures Bruce and Elizabeth will start spending a lot of time together, which will inevitably lead to them hooking up, and when Jeffrey gets back he’ll be on his own and she’ll be there to comfort him. This is Lila’s third pathetic attempt to snag Jeffrey – it’s just plain sad. This book even mentions her last attempt in Sweet Valley High #48 – Slam Book Fever. Though this book says that Lila had originally wrote that Jeffrey and Enid Rollins and Elizabeth and Roger Barrett Patman were the couples of the future, which wasn’t the case. Lila actually wrote that Elizabeth and A.J. Morgan and Jeffrey and Olivia Davidson were the couples of the future, and these distinctions really mattered, particularly A.J. since Jess was madly in love with him at this point. Don’t the ghostwriters at least read the books they reference?

After the revelation about Bruce, Elizabeth, Jessica and Lila go to the Beach Disco and Liz finds Bruce and is nice to him, which surprises even him! They dance and talk. The next day at the beach Bruce and Elizabeth take a walk and hang out. When Jessica sees Bruce put his arm around Elizabeth, she gets upset and tells Lila she is going to come clean, because enough is enough. But Lila convinces her not to since she’ll have to confess about touching Liz’s journal and reading her letters from Jeffrey. Always the one for self-preservation, Jessica drops the subject.

The next day, Jessica plays hooky and goes to see a movie with Lila. A little while later, Elizabeth answers the phone in the news office, and it is Redman. He tells her there is a bomb at the movie theatre and hangs up. Seth calls the police and they rush to the theatre. It’s being evacuated when the police discover a fake bomb. Bruce is there and Jessica does not like how he is looking at Liz, so she informs him that Elizabeth is only being nice to him because she thinks he is dying. Jess figures this would be a blow to his ego and he would back off, but she should know better. Bruce is a dog, and she just gave him the answer on how to get his bone (they actually use this metaphor in the book a few times, so I had to slip it in somehow). That night Elizabeth is babysitting when she keeps getting hang-up calls which is freaking her out. Then Bruce calls and wants to come over, he uses the “I’m depressed because I’m sick” advantage Jessica gave him. But Elizabeth says it wouldn’t be right and they can talk tomorrow. Then there is someone at the door. At first Elizabeth thinks it is Bruce, but it is this man who asks for Elsa. He just says he is a friend and Elizabeth takes a message, but is thoroughly creeped out by this guy. Even more so when he asks for her name. He leaves and after a few minutes there is another knock at the door, but this time it is Bruce. He tries his best to charm Elizabeth, but she makes him go home after a few minutes.

A few days later Elizabeth gets another hang-up call and Jessica knows it’s Lila and gets even more irritated about the joke they’re playing on her sister (but Lila swears she was not behind the hang up calls while Elizabeth was babysitting). Bruce comes over and is laying it on thick again when the doorbell rings and Jessica is relieved to see that it is Jeffrey. He decided to surprise Liz and is home from camp a week early. Jessica is sure now all this stuff with Bruce will stop, but not a chance. Jeffrey is upset to see Liz with Bruce, but she just tells him to trust her and that nothing inappropriate is going on, but that she can’t tell him why Bruce is hanging around. Ugh. Liz, Jeffrey is the best thing to happen to you and you’re going to blow it. I want to punch you a little.

Bruce, Liz and Jeffrey go to some school spirit pep rally thing at the high school stadium and Bruce and Jeffrey are getting into such a pissing contest, Elizabeth leaves both of them, fed up with it all (and a tad flattered). While she is walking she sees the man who stopped by Elsa’s the other night. Before she can figure out what he is doing (he said he would only be in town for one day) the high school principal tells everyone that the concert is over and everyone needs to exit the stadium. It’s another bomb. And like before, it’s another fake.

The next day, the Wakefields are all talking about how Donald Redman still hasn’t been caught. Some people are threatening vigilante justice, and since this is Sweet Valley, I’m envisioning a letter writing campaign. Jessica says she thinks the police are incompetent, but if you have ever read a Sweet Valley book before this is not new information. I mean the twins are actually more competent than the entire force and boy is that saying something. Elizabeth gets to thinking and realizes that Elsa’s “friend” looks a lot like Redman if he had changed his hair and general appearance. But she doesn’t want to accuse an innocent person when everyone is panicking so she just asks Elsa instead of calling the police and Elsa assures her that her friend is not Redman. At first I was like “huh,” but it turns out Redman is Elsa’s brother and only living relative. All right, in my defense I knew there was a connection, kudos to the ghostwriter for not going the super obvious route.

The next day Elizabeth is getting ready for a date with Jeffrey when Bruce calls her and insinuates he is just done with life and can’t go on anymore. He asks her to meet him at the tennis courts and she runs out of the house, telling Jessica and Lila to keep Jeffrey there and not to tell him where she is going. Knowing Jeffrey will be there in minutes, Lila says she needs to get something out of her car and waits for him and then “accidentally” tells him exactly where Liz is and that she’s meeting Bruce. Jeffrey is super pissed because earlier that day Bruce bragged to him about how he had a date with Elizabeth.

Bruce and Elizabeth go to the stadium for some privacy, since it’s next to the tennis courts. Redman is building the mother of all bombs in the utility room at the stadium. He plans to use it during the Endless Summer concert the following night. He hears Elizabeth and Bruce and spies on them. He is sure that Elizabeth is Melanie, the same girl he kidnapped years ago. And since he saw her at the theatre and the pep rally and at Elsa’s he is sure she is out to foil his plans. Well, he’ll show her! Back at the Wakefield house, Lila convinces Jessica to do the Ouija board with her one last time. It says that Liz is in danger at the stadium. Both of them start arguing sure that the other one is playing a nasty joke. But neither of them moved the planchette and Jessica remembers how Elizabeth told her that Ouija board predictions often came from a person’s subconscious and that they were moving it without realizing it. Jessica realizes it is her freaky twin ESP and she knows her sister is in danger!

stereotypical-bombThey rush to Lila’s car only to encounter Elsa right outside. She has come to warn Elizabeth that Redman thinks she is Melanie and wants revenge and to apologize and confess that he is really her brother. They go back into the house to call the police and then go to meet them at the stadium. Speaking of the stadium, Jeffrey finds Elizabeth and Bruce in an embrace when he gets there and he is pissed. He mentions how Bruce bragged to him about having a date with her and suddenly everything clicks with Liz. She realizes she is the densest person ever and is mortified, as she should be. I mean seriously – Bruce was leering at her the whole time. And what about that time he tried to rape her? Liz, what the hell were you thinking? I still don’t know how anyone with half a brain could buy that he was sick or putting on some brave front. I mean a Ouija board and its spirit contacts are more believable than that!

Anyway, Liz runs away because she has to be alone and goes into the utility room to hide in case Jeffrey tries to follow her. Does anyone else see this as childish? Redman grabs Liz and tells her not to struggle or he’ll blow them to bits. He is holding a remote detonator. Redman tells Liz to yell because he wants Bruce and Jeffrey to come into the room too, but the why isn’t clear. The three of them are trapped with Redman as he goes off into psychotic rambling rants about Melanie/Liz and how he’ll show them all.

Back in the parking lot, Jessica, Lila and Elsa are waiting for the police. Yes, they got there first, a mad bomber has teenage hostages and yet fifteen minutes later, no one from law enforcement is there – see what I mean about the competence of Sweet Valley police? Anyway, they finally get there and surround the stadium and hand Elsa a megaphone. Elsa tries to convince Redman to let everyone go and come out so they can talk. He refuses, but it distracts him enough so Jeffrey can tackle his ass. When Jeffrey tackles Redman, the remote detonator sails across the floor and under a cabinet. Redman laughs maniacally and says it is too late, he already hit the button. Bruce, in an uncharacteristically shocking move, grabs the bomb and runs out to the middle of the stadium with it, knowing it is about to blow. Redman chases after him. Jeffrey moves the cabinet so Elizabeth can reach the detonator. Jeffrey tells Liz to smash it and cut all of its wires and she does. The timer stops but suddenly there is a large explosion that knocks them both down.

Elizabeth and Jeffrey fear the worst about Bruce, but when they leave the room they see him walking back. Redman had taken the bomb away from him and ran away with it, while laughing. But the joke is ultimately on him because he wasn’t as lucky as Bruce – Redman’s dead. Elizabeth and Jessica reunite in the stadium parking lot and all is forgiven. But Elizabeth makes Jessica promise never to go near another Ouija board ever again. 😛


Is it just me, or is anyone else disappointed that Bruce survived? Oh well. I know this was a longer post, the book was kind of involved, but I hope you were able to get your Super Thriller fix for awhile, sadly there won’t be another one for 39 books (so none the rest of this “season” or the “next season”) – it’s going to be awhile…

-DMW

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