the_oracle: (gasp!)
No Place To Hide
December 1988

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Secret lives...


   When Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield invite Nicholas Morrow on a picnic to help cure his blues, their plan has unexpected results. Nicholas falls in love with Barbara, a beautiful girl who involves the twins in their most dangerous mystery yet.
  Barbara tells Nicholas they must hide their relationship from the uncle she's visiting. Hearing the fear in her voice, Nicholas decides to tell the twins, and they start investigating. The more they find out, the more desperate Barbara's situation seems.
   Then Jessica and Elizabeth are threatened by an anonymous caller. Now they face a terrible choice: either give up their search and leave Barbara in deadly trouble, or save Barbara's life-and risk their lives and Nicholas's!


  No Place to Hide is a bit of a standout in the SVH-verse for me because I always forget that it exists. Oh, I'll remember it for three months after I've read it, but come next April? I'll wonder what the hell the book was about. So, for me, it's like I'll always have a SVH book that's almost new for me. Sure, I remember the basics: Nicholas Morrow finally gets over Elizabeth by falling for a girl who, in any other book put out at the time that wasn't SV or BSC, would've been a ghost. Happy fun times do not ensue. That much I recall. But even now I couldn't tell you the exact specifics without looking at my cheat sheet or the book itself.

   Well played, ghostwriter of the month. Well played.


  It's the summer of the twins' internship at the Sweet Valley News again still and we've finally progressed to... July. I know, I would've thought that we would have progressed a little bit further, but hey. I'm not in charge here, I'm merely here to mock and squee as needed. The newspaper is having its annual picnic in Ronoma, a county in California we've never heard of before and will likely never hear from again. Liz and Jess are excited because picnics have always been a big deal to them. Jess I think is more interested in the party aspect and Liz is dreaming of networking, but still. Excitement?
   Liz decides to invite Nicholas because he's seemed a little bummed lately, what with his sister dying and all. (...yes.) Once at the picnic, Nicholas is far from the life of the party and decides he would rather walk around the park and sulk. Liz grumbles to herself that she invited the boy so she has to play the gracious hostess/friend and keep him company because, hell, the way he's been lately, he's likely to fling himself off the nearest cliffs. But she resents this because of the missed networking possibilities. Next time don't invite the guy who was all too interested in you until your sister's untimely demise that you sort of had a bit of a hand in, Miss Nosy Reporter Wannabe. Just sayin'.

  Nicholas walks and walks and gets further and further from the party/picnic in the park. Liz worries they're trespassing. Nich doesn't seem to care that some people don't want strangers traipsing around their yards and wants to get a better look at the cliffs and their view of the sea. Instead he finds a girl who is so gorgeous that she appears to be from another time period entirely. If you listen carefully, you can hear Tricia Martin screaming about someone stealing her shtick.
  Nicholas falls immediately for Barbara and she seems to fall for him as well. Can't say I blame her. TV!Nicholas aside, the dude's supposed to be dreamy. Anyway, Nicholas lets Barbara slip away without so much as a phone number or a last name, so he returns the next day to find her. Luckily for him, Barbara seems to delight in traipsing about in the woods and garden near her grandparents' creepy mansion by the sea, and she sings to her Yorkie so Nicholas can fairly easily find her.
  I'll spare you the whole romancing of the couple because there isn't much. Barbara's beautiful. Nicholas is beautiful. Nicholas shares Regina's love of drama, so the moment he gets wind of B's "Uncle John" and his controlling ways and temper (made clear by John telling him to get lost and never come around again, EVER), the boy is hooked. Immediately he begins to worry about B and how her not!Uncle seems to have too short a leash on her. So what does he do? He invites the twins out to Barbara's and they are immediately chased away by B before her uncle comes to drag her back to the house, warning her of what terrible things will happen to Josine, their housekeeper and the only friend Barbara has had all summer.
  Nicholas keeps returning to Barbara and they manage to away for a dinner in town where more than one person reacts as if they've seen a ghost the second they catch sight of Barbara. It appears she's the spitting image of her grandmother who died tragically years ago. Upon returning from their meal out, Nicholas finds his Jeep's tires have all been slashed, proving that someone is on to them. Barbara repeatedly asks and tells Nicholas to stay away, that it's not safe for him to see her anymore, but that's not going to discourage a drama junkie. Instead Nicholas vows to find a way to rescue Barbara. If you don't get that Nicholas imagines himself the prince on a white horse by now, you either missed out on all the fairytales as a kid or you're just slow.

   Meanwhile, Jessica and Elizabeth are back at the paper doing research of their own. It appears it's nearly time for a new SV mayor and the paper is abuzz with news on each side. There's the mysterious Russell Kinkaid who is amazingly charming and charismatic and yet still manages to rub Elizabeth the wrong way. (Proof that he's Evil.) And then there's Miles Robinson who has the support of the Valley News but really, we don't ever find out much about him. Is he the current mayor? Is the current mayor embroiled in scandal so awesome that they dare not speak its name? Who knows.
  Jessica is assigned a seemingly unrelated story about Paul Lazarow, the leader of an artists' colony in Ronoma County in the 40's. At first she can't find out much, but in the interest of time, we'll skip to the important stuff. Eventually the twins find that Russell Kinkaid studied at the colony years ago and was actually an exceptionally talented artist who had a thing for Lazarow's daughter... Barbara. Unfortunately for Barbara, she was in love with Jack Pearsall, Kinkaid's artistic rival. Barbara and Jack eloped, keeping their marriage a secret from everyone but Josine. Eventually Barbara became pregnant and shortly after her daughter was born, news of her relationship with Jack broke. Kinkaid was so enraged that he pushed her from the cliffs behind her house on the night of her birthday. Since there were no witnesses, the police couldn't charge him and he got away with murder.
  Paul Lazarow died six months after his daughter due to cancer, and Jack went completely mental. Unable to cope without Barbara, he moved into an assisted living facility, and Gwen, their daughter, went off to live with family friends in Switzerland.
   Of course, the twins and Nicholas only learned part of this. When Liz finds out that Russell Kinkaid was questioned about his part in Barbara's death, she calls Jessica and tells her that they're that much closer to cracking both cases. (Why Barbara is being kept prisoner and why Russell gives Liz the creeps.) The twins hang up, excited beyond belief, but then the phone rings again and Liz is threatened by someone who points out that the Jeep's tires didn't slash themselves and that Rory's disappearance was no fluke. Warnings, people. Warnings! Liz freaks out and the next day she tells Nicholas all about it.
  Nicholas decides that the only thing left to do is go to the police.

   No. That might be logical considering Liz did just get herself threatened and all. No, what they're going to do is go and kidnap Barbara on her birthday. He asks the twins for help and when they reasonably ask what his brilliant plan is, Jessica balks immediately at the insanity that pours forth. His plan? He'll grab Barbara while one twin waits in the car and the other distracts Uncle John.
  That's... pretty simple, actually. And yet it goes horribly, horribly wrong. Jess draws the short straw and is stuck in the Jeep, Liz twists her ankle but Nicholas doesn't notice because he's a little obsessed at the time, and then Jessica has to distract the occupants of Bayview House by ringing the doorbell. ...Right. So, naturally Liz gets found by John immediately after she sends Jessica off to play decoy. She pisses him off when she makes him yammer on about why he's torturing Barbara (simply a side effect of torturing his brother, Russell) and he pistol whips her. And the peasants rejoice!

  Jessica bangs on the front door to no avail. No one's answering, probably because John's out front knocking Liz into unconsciousness and Russell? Russell is out on the cliffs with Nicholas and Barbara. Jessica watches in horror as Russell wrestles with Barbara, hands wrapped around her wrists, apparently trying to push her off the cliffs. I'm not entirely sure how that would work, and apparently neither is gravity, because Russell slips and falls _backwards_, sending him and Barbara both over the edge of the cliffs. Russell falls to his death but Barbara manages to catch on to a rock ledge somehow. Again, I... don't think that would necessarily happen given the way they both fell, hands on her wrists and all, but I don't recommend trying this at home in any case.
  Nicholas and Jessica (whom Nicholas still thinks is Liz) pull Barbara to safety. There's a lovely moment with B/N and then B starts blubbering about rescuing Josine. Jessica freaks out when she hears the younger Kinkaid has a gun and Nicholas finally realizes Jessica isn't Liz. They rush back to where they left Elizabeth and find her lavaliere on the ground. Jess freaks out but Barbara out drama!queens her when she nearly faints. That's right. Jessica's twin is missing but Barbara is the one with a case of the vapors. Rightio. Because the sight of the necklace lying on the ground reminded her of Rory's collar and that was too much for her. Mmmhmm. Whatever.
  The dramatic trio return to Bayview House and find Josine who lets them know that Kinkaid the younger grabbed the keys to the studio, so they rush to see if they'll be in time to rescue Elizabeth. The doors to the studio are locked, but with a boost from Nicholas, Barbara manages to shimmy in through a window and they rush to find Elizabeth passed out and Rory alive. The paramedics are called and everyone is whisked away to either the police station or the hospital.
  John Kinkaid actually took his brother's often mentioned silver Jag and made a break for it. The police actually catch him without any help from the twins (shock!) and he immediately confesses. It seems he was the brains behind the Kinkaid fortune and when Russell dumped him right before his mayoral bid, John decided to get revenge. Russell had told his little brother the truth about Barbara's death years before and John realized that since granddaughter!Barbara was the spitting image of her grandmother, she would be perfect to torment Russell. John would invite Russell to Bayview and then force Barbara to dress in her grandmother's things and go out for walks along the cliffs, all in an effort to make Russell think he was being haunted. Russell snapped all right, but seemed determined to commit the same crime. History and all that, I guess.
   Barbara is surprisingly sympathetic with the elder Kinkaid considering the man killed her grandmother and died trying to kill her, but she's probably a better person than I am anyway, so we'll chalk it up to that.
  Liz racks up another concussion but is ultimately fine.
  The same cannot truly be said for Nicholas though. His heart breaks when he realizes that Barbara's parents are whisking her away to home and safety right after her birthday. Nicholas helps Barbara reconnect with her grandfather, Jack. Jack, by the way, is surprisingly okay with the fact that his granddaughter looks identical to his late wife. I guess my years of V.C. Andrews prepped me for a completely different reaction, but hey. Once they flee back to Switzerland, we never hear from them again, so maybe things did go all VC. *cough*
   Anyway. The book ends with Nicholas lonely once more, but finally distracted from Regina's death. Yay?


Trivia:

  • Miles Robinson is one of the mayoral candidates and is the one the SV News supports.

  • July in the Valley is apparently a very slow news month.

  • Russell Donovan Kinkaid is the other mayoral candidate. He's handsome in that "dark, rugged, muscular" way, with angular, well pronounced features and steely gray eyes. He's in his early 60's, a private business man who ran an import/export business. Rumors of illegal campaign fund usage run rampant but there's no proof. Ditto the rumors for bribery. Owned a factory in Tijuana that was shut down due to inhumane working conditions. Name has been linked to infamous names in underworld crime. Favorite author when he was younger was Hemingway, wanted to be a painter.

  • Ronoma County is a rural area 40 miles South East of Sweet Valley. There's a loverly park with a pond used for the annual SVN picnic and it used to be home to Paul Lazarow's artist colony back in the 1940's. It was a popular beach community 50 years ago. (Well, 50 years ago from the 80's, which would be, whoa, 70 years these days.)

  • The SVN picnic started at noon. Volleyball, a cookout, and even fireworks but no mention of the ghostly haunting down the road at Bayview House. Next time they should really schedule that one in, too.

  • Nicholas sees a shrink once a week, partly due to the nightmares he has.

  • Bayview House is a beautiful but rundown gray clapboard house, with a wrought iron fence, a rose garden, turrets, a widow's walk, a brass knocker and no bell for the front door.

  • Rory, Barbara's dog, is a Yorkshire terrier.

  • Barbara is beautiful (naturally) with a perfect oval face, creamy skin, waist length chestnut brown hair, huge wide-set pale blue eyes. She lives in Switzerland with her professor parents who are doing research work in Greece over the summer. Her grandmother died right after Barbara's mother was born.

  • Josine, the housekeeper, is very old and more than a little senile.

  • Uncle John Kinkaid pretends to be Barbara's grandfather's cousin, executor of the original Barbara's will. He's in his 50's and handsome, but mean.

  • Jess desperately wants to cover the makeover workshop at the mall for the paper. Instead she ends up doing research on Paul Lazarow.

  • Mr. Robb is always at his desk by eight A.M.

  • Robb's 8:45 assignments: Dan Weeks, art exhibit at the Sweet Valley Museum for Paul Lazarow who headed the Ronoma artists' colony in the 1940's. Jessica is assisting. Liz is working with Seth on a special feature on Robinson and Kinkaid.

  • Jess feels sorry for Liz having to deal with all the boring politics even more than she was already.

  • Russell Kinkaid drives a silver-blue Jaguar.

  • Paul Lazarow was born in 1895, studied art in Paris, came back to California to start his artists' colony in 1939. He died in 1949, shortly after his daughter, Barbara. Lazarow spent most of his time divided between three places: Ronoma, Paris, and Brittany, and the paintings in the show at the museum are divided as such, with Ronoma being the last section.

  • The Kinkaid brothers were partners for 35 years, mostly in real estate.

  • Barbara Lazarow drowned after being shoved off the cliffs behind her house July 28, 1949. She'd just turned 21.

  • 80's!Barbara has nightmares about her birthday involving cake, a creepy dude, and being chased and then falling. Note to B: run. away.

  • Du Pres, a painter, took Barbara's mother, Gwen, to Europe after the deaths of Barbara and Paul Lazarow. Gwen never really understood why.

  • Denning is the largest town in Ronoma County.

  • Francesco's is a small, charming Italian restaurant's in Denning.

  • The gas attendant thought he saw a ghost when he caught sight of Barbara when she and Nicholas escaped for their date.

  • Barbara speaks French. Of course she does.

  • Rory's collar is found up on the cliffs, leaving everyone to assume John threw poor little Rory over the cliffs.

  • Nicholas finds his Jeep's tires slashed and his windshield smashed.

  • The Sweet Valley Museum is a small, modern building overlooking the ocean with a palm tree lined driveway.

  • In addition to the artist colony, Paul bought Bayview House so that Barbara could summer in California.

  • During the summer of 1947, Kinkaid studied with Lazarow.

  • Bravo, Nicholas, for using the word sadist in a SV novel. Well played!

  • After having lunch with the twins, Nicholas returns to find a threat slipped under his windshield: "You'll stay away from Barbara if you know what's good for you. This is your first and last warning."

  • Barbara's song that she's overheard singing at least twice: You came to me from out of nowhere. You took my heart and found it free... Google tells me this is 'Out of Nowhere' and is worth a listen.



Quote Me On That:

"He's allegedly mishandled campaign funds from day one, but no one can prove it. There's also talk of some bad connections he's made in business. He owned a factory in Tijuana that was shut down by the government because of inhumane working conditions. His name has been linked with some people in the world of organized crime as well."
Jessica looked triumphantly at her sister. "See, there's nothing wrong with the guy." - Seth/Jessica, p6/7

Jessica stared at her, alarmed. "Haven't you heard what Nicholas has been like lately? Lila says he's losing his mind." -p14

"It's very common for people that old to confuse real people with people from the past." -Uh, Nicholas? Just because they're from the past doesn't mean they aren't/weren't real. Just saying. p 73

"Nicholas, have you completely lost your mind? That isn't exactly what I'd call a fair division of labor." -Jess speaks true, if a bit stiffly. p140

"I should never have let you two come out here," he mumbled. - Nicholas? You recruited THEM, not the other way around. p159

Bonus Fashion Spectacular:
Today Elizabeth was wearing a navy blue skirt- slim-cut and flattering, but on the conservative side- and a simple blue-and-white-striped cotton sweater, while Jessica looked as if she had just stepped out of the pages of Ingenue, her favorite magazine. She had on a linen miniskirt, a boxy sweater with padded shoulders, and funky, dangling earrings. p3/4

And not far away from him, Barbara, looking resplendent in a pink-and-ivory silk dress, was sitting on an ivory-colored blanket, her legs tucked under her, her long hair gleaming in the sunlight. Her straw bonnet was thrown carelessly next to her on the blanket and a novel was open on her lap. p 42

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  Ultimately, for all the mocking I may or may not have done, I really like No Place to Hide. It appeals to my inner child who loved all the mysterious something fierce. Plus, I like the cover art. I know, I'm shallow. I like the way they keep beating poor Nicholas down and I feel for him, plus who doesn't love an epic romance that spans less than a month? It's not like it's the shortest romance ever. The drama heightens everything and it works very well as it unfolds. It's just that later, when you start to pick at it, that it unravels awfully quickly.
  Also? I think I've established that any book where Jessica is fantastically protective of Elizabeth is bound to make my list of happy making books.

  Bonus points given for connecting Regina and Barbara. Both are unnaturally beautiful and have ties to Switzerland. Creepy!
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Please forgive me for being late and for this not necessarily making a lot of sense. It's cold up here (no heating!) and my hands are probably colder than some of the stuff in your freezer. No, I mean the freezer that works, not the one you keep out in the garage hoping that one day you'll need it for some MacGuyver schemes.
the_oracle: (gasp!)
On The Run
June 1988

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A shadowy past...


  After a chilling encounter with murder, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are now ready for a calm summer in Sweet Valley-until Eric Hankman appears.

  Like Elizabeth, Eric is a quiet, sensitive writer, and the two of them immediately become friends.

  But Jessica's not convinced that Eric is as perfect as he seems. Her suspicions are aroused when her new friend, Darcy Kaymen, thinks she recognizes Eric as a boy from her hometown who has a mysterious past. Jessica knows Elizabeth won't believe a word of Darcy's story without evidence, but by the time she has all the proof she needs, it may be too late to save her sister.

  Read ON THE RUN, the second Sweet Valley High Super Thriller!



   What's this? An update? What strange, bizarro universe have we entered? How do you escape? When will the madness end?!

   Yeah, I know. Most people apologize when they disappear. Me? I like to go melodramatically weird. It's why you love me. Well, that and you're bored and looking for something vaguely entertaining, and dude, I do vaguely entertaining like it's my job or something. So, win/win for both of us.

   That said, let's begin. I can now see why I dragged my feet when it came to this particular Thriller. See, I love me some Thriller action. Bring on the Sweet Valley News and its chatter about typewriters and dreamy boy reporters and the interns who get coffee for them! Bring. It. ON! What I don't love, however, is the typical Liz cheats on Todd/Jeffrey formula. Because seriously? It's the same guy, over and over and over. And even though this is one of the first couple of times we've tiptoed down this particular path, and even though I'd pretty much forgotten Liz actually wanted to cheat on Jeffrey* I'm still bored to tears.

  But how can this be, given the material I was given to work with? We've got mob bosses, drug czars, death threats, mistaken identity, murders, new people in from Ohio [what, there was a run on 'em?], nosy neighbors, and oh yeah, the Witness Protection program!
   That's right. I totally ruined the book for you, huh? But yeah, by now you should know better than to read one of these if you haven't actually read the book. Anyway!


  The boredom stems from Liz and her archetype for the cheating on her boyfriend. Should the Valley ever spring to life once more, or possibly you feel like creating your own slice of California heaven and you need the perfect twin to cheat on her boyfriend, you need the following ingredients. It's okay, I've triple-checked this recipe for accuracy and dude, it rarely fails:


  Elizabeth's So Good You'll Cheat On Your Soulmate Boyfriend Man-Candy Recipe:

  • Tall [though truthfully he just needs to be taller than 5'6" and your average guy is. And if he isn't, then you're either dealing with Tom Cruise and should run away immediately, or you're dealing with one of my exes and you should kick them in their freakin' kneecaps and save yourself the trouble]

  • dark [we'll accept anything from medium brown hair right on through to black hair, though usually we like the darker hair]

  • pale [if we're outside California, try and make him preternaturally pale, please]

  • good looking, but not prettier than either Todd or Jeffrey

  • moody [We accept no substitutions on this one!]

  • a writer [any sort will do]

  • mysterious past with bonus points being given if he's got parental issues or you seriously consider him a potential murderer in that "it's always the quiet ones" sort of way.



   Your eyes may vary, but it's generally a good rule of thumb to go with a lovely contrast to that fabulous hair and try blue, green, or a lovely gray. Blue is the most common, but think of all the blues you could use! Green and gray come in one shade apiece, so really, with blue you get your money's worth. Mix it all together and you've got a guy Liz will fall for given enough time and Jess will probably agree is mildly less repulsive than Bob down in accounting, but not hot enough to fight her twin for**. Because that, you see, would just complicate the plot and we cannot have that.

  Normally I'd have given you an extremely long winded recap of the events and I'm sure you're waiting for that. I'm delaying the pain because, well, nothing freakin' happens.

  It's July. Liz and Jess are working at the Sweet Valley News, remember? Jess is bitching about the gig and due to her run in with a murderer, she's not really into the water cooler gossip going around about the DeLucca trial. Frank DeLucca's on trial for a variety of things, the most recent being murder, and most people seem to think he's going to get away with it because all the witnesses have either had lapses in their memory or refuse to testify. Cuz that ain't shady at all, DeLucca. Anyway, fascinating as this is, it's happening in New York.
   Strike One. I find it really hard to get behind a twisty plot where the action takes place off screen in New York when I'm centered in SV, California. Sorry. It's not even that I don't fully buy that people across the country would give a damn about such a thing as it's entirely possible the case is just that big. It's just that I don't care.

  So, I'm with Jessica on this. That whole 'murderer nearly killed me and the twin' thing would make it so that I wouldn't want to focus on a guy who probably killed, or had other people kill, a whole bunch of people. I'd want some rainbows, unicorns, and cute guys not made out of sensible twin's recipe.
   Since she works at a newspaper though, that ain't gonna happen. Seth and Dan get into a pissing contest over their beliefs as to whether anyone will come forward and nail DeLucca's ass to the wall or not. Dan says no one's that brave/stupid, and Seth disagrees. We all know that Liz has taken Seth's side even before she ever so earnestly shares her opinion with us.
  For whatever reason, we're introduced to Darcy K, who is the third intern and a recent transplant from Ohio. DK and Jess hit it off for reasons I never really do understand because DK is a two-faced bitch who isn't even all that subtle or smart in her bitchitude. I expect better from my Valley vixens, okay? Lila would never let this girl in, and you know how she feels about Liz during the Jeffrey years...
  Anyway, DK rarely has an opinion of her own and all the thoughts she does share with the class come filtered through her father. It's as annoying as you'd think it would be. Liz and DK clash immediately and the guys are oblivious because, well, they're guys.
   Back to the DeLucca case. Dr. Ryan has appeared with evidence, DeLucca is sent packing and the peasants rejoice. I... snore softly in the corner.

  During a fit of DK's bitchery, DK tells Liz to get Dan a coffee with cream and sugar, only Dan's allergic to cream [wha?] and Liz has to make two coffee runs. She meets Eric, new guy from Ohio [see?] and they hit it off because he was made for her. He actually sounds a bit creepy considering how he runs hot and cold so easily, but hey, that's Elizabeth's fling-type, so, whatever. Naturally DK falls for Eric much like Jess would [as in not really, but the idea that he's not in love with her is one too vexing to dwell on] and friction ensues when DK realizes Eric isn't all that interested. Except...
   I'm getting ahead of myself. Eric and Liz hit it off. Since he's new and not a psychotic bitch [or is he?], Liz offers him a tour of the city. He takes her up on it and you know they'll fall for each other and they do, but Liz doesn't want Jeffrey to find out or for Eric to find out about Jeffrey although, at this point, she and Eric haven't even kissed. She just wants them to. So they agree to keep things quiet.
  Thing is, anytime Liz asks about Eric's past, he clams up and gets this look in his eyes that freaks her out a little. Still, he's just her type...
   Doesn't take long for DK to realize Eric's not totally interested, but before she can get good and mad, she finds out that another intern, this one male, is going to appear. Still, DK is nosy, so she calls her friend back in Ohio to see if she knew Eric before he moved. No such luck, but hey, a girl was murdered right before Eric showed up in Sweet Valley. Based on this and the vague notion that a guy fitting the same description is the suspected killer, DK and Jess decide Eric is obviously Christopher Wyeth, the murderer.
  And you know, given how these things work out, the odds were actually in their favor.

  With this knowledge, DK and Jess don't go to the cops or their parents. Instead they decide to keep an eye on Eric to see if he'll crack. Right, sure, sounds good. *draws air circles near temples* Because the Valley is the size of a postage stamp, Mr. Wakefield knows Eric's father [he's a client] and invites him over for dinner. He also invites the next door neighbors, the Beckwiths. Interesting, as the Beckwiths are frequently mentioned but rarely seen on screen.
   There's a damn fine reason for that. Mr. Beckwith is an ass. The kind I will never be able to keep my mouth shut around when I'm old and cranky. He gets it into his head that he knows Eric's father from somewhere and will not shut up about it. I fully expect Mr. H to bitchslap him while shouting, "YOU DON"T KNOW ME, OKAY?"
  But he doesn't. Blergh. Jess is watching Eric and her twin like a hawk because she's fairly certain, given the level of moodiness and time it took Liz to get ready for the dinner, Liz has a thing for Eric and that he, DK's insanity aside, likes Liz too. Only there really isn't much to see.

  For two people who aren't dating, Liz and Eric have an awful lot of breakup moments. Liz gets pissed when she thinks Eric wrote a "love poem" for DK, but in reality it was for Liz but Eric didn't want to blow their cover. Then, despite Jessica's attempt to keep in the dark, Eric finds out about Jeffrey and is pissed.
  Now Jess is worried because if Eric really is Chris Wyeth, Amy and company have just handed him perfect motive for offing Saint Liz. Y'know, that whole she has a steady boyfriend that she never bothered to mention thing kind of stings.
  Jess tries desperately to get a hold of Liz but things have gone horribly wrong all weekend. Liz has gone to Enid's for the weekend and the note she leaves is destroyed by Enid's cat [what cat?], when Jess impersonated Liz prior to the Jeffrey revelation, the notebook she scammed off Eric was stolen by some creep in a Mercedes, and now Liz is off on assignment with Eric. To complicate matters, DK is a little more interested in her thing for the new intern than she is in keeping Saint Liz in possession of her life. Priorities, Jess!
  Anyway, Liz and Eric run into each other at the end of the day Monday evening and Eric is pissed. He drags Liz off somewhere, Jess freaks out and attempts to follow, only to be thwarted by Mr. Beckwith who is screaming about a little boy choking in Eric's little coffee shop. [Dude, so fired!] Jess panics and calls 9-1-1 after being all but slapped into action. Eric's father appears and heads off to help, which is odd because isn't he a "business" man? We need a doctor, man!
  Yeah, all those who realize that he's Dr. Ryan in disguise, give yourselves a couple of cookies. Eric tries to stop his father from interfering but his father goes in to do my very first tracheotomy.

  And this is the part that drove me bonkers even way back when.
  Beckwith finally puts all the pieces together and shouts, for all the fucking world to hear, that this is Dr. Ryan!
  What part of hit on his life do you not understand? No cookies for you, Beckwith! NO COOKIES!

   Eric and his father head home to pack and run away before they can be killed. Liz follows to say goodbye and to gush all over Eric who is really Michael. Only as Mike and Doc are packing, the bad guys find them and Liz must save the day.
  How? By realizing Doc never disconnected the previous owner's security, so she slams a button [red?] and informs Eric that the house is part of the Good Neighbors network and that right now at least six of their neighbors are rallying the troops. They'll call and if Doc doesn't give the password, they'll storm the fortress of solitude!
  And damn if that isn't what happens, although, um, would Doc even KNOW the password? I guess he could just say, "dude, what? No, we're cool" if it had been an accident... Still, as a kid I really liked this part, so I'll let it slide. After the cops appear and the day is saved, Liz and Mike say goodbye, their hearts breaking and whatnot, and by this point not even the ghost of my younger self can keep me motivated. Liz runs home, cries to herself and finally reads Eric's notebook which he's given her, seeing as all the poems contained within are written about her. The last breaks her heart and the music swells. End scene.
  Really, the book should have ended there, but we go back for more of DK so that she can inform us that gosh, Sweet Valley is ever so boring and Jess can think that it's really turning out to be awfully exciting.

  I died, really.


*In my memory, Liz and Jeffrey last for like, two seconds, so it's not so much that she didn't have ample opportunity to do what she does best on vacations, it's that she simply didn't have time. Re-reading the Valley has proven me wrong. Jeffrey lasted for a decent chunk of time, all things considered, and mostly Liz is as faithful as she is capable of being, given that she's a fictional sixteen year old girl who has wacky adventures and sometimes we need the nerdier twin to get some action.

** But later will totally be revealed in a diary entry that she did, in fact, skank it up behind Elizabeth's back. Oh, wait, that's reserved for Jeffrey and Todd. Never mind.




Trivia:

  • Liz and Jess are described, repeatedly, as identical opposites this go round. Later Liz will complain that she'll never be able to fully live up to the ideal everyone has created for her. She says to the guy she's cheating on her boyfriend with.

  • Lila's in Carmel.

  • The DeLucca case refers to Frank DeLucca who is on trial for murder and racketeering, though it's widely believed he's responsible for "countless crimes of murder, espionage, illegal drug and gambling activities." He was busted at the murder scene of Ray Underwood, but since then no one's been able to testify against him.

  • Ray Underwood was one of DeLucca's underlings who decided to do the right thing and ended up dead for his trouble. In his late teens he was diagnosed with early on-set diabetes and was referred to Dr. Ryan, and when Ray realized his days were numbered, he delivered his confession/fears in writing to the doc, just in case.

  • Seth Miller and Dan Weeks are the youngest reporters at the Sweet Valley News [SVN].

  • Dan is sure no one will ever testify against DeLucca. Seth disagrees. Liz agrees with Seth, Darcy Kaymen, the new intern, agrees with Dan. As does her Daddy.

  • Darcy Kaymen has silky red hair, brown eyes, freckles, is on the curvy side, looks like she's seventeen, will be enrolled in Whitehead Academy in the fall, got her internship because her father knows the man who runs SVN, and would rather have worked at the mall, or a cute boutique. If you did a shot for every time she said "my father" you'd die of liver failure within a day.

  • Darcy calls Liz "Crusader" and it is not a term of endearment.

  • Jessica's newest Hollywood crush is Cliff Benjamin, a young actor who's been in a slew of teenage movies. Darcy allegedly went the same school as he did back in Toledo.

  • Darcy has a little trouble with the truth and skews reality to the point where you want to smack her.

  • Jeffrey's back in three weeks, and the book itself covers about two, so he's expected back at the end of July/early August.

  • Liz and Jeffrey agreed to talk twice a week, not including letters.

  • Jeffrey's been teaching guys how to canoe. Jess mocks this.

  • William Ryan is Ray Underwood's Manhattan doctor [specializing in internal medicine] of six years who steps up with the evidence Ray left with him after Ray became convinced he wasn't long for this world.

  • Ray accused DeLucca and two other, unnamed, men of being the heads of an international drug ring.

  • Other minions at SVN: typesetter Paul is a lanky dude and Stan Fisher is the head of the editorial section.

  • The good people of the SVN call the corner diner across from the Western Building the Press Club.

  • While at the Press Club, Darcy outed Liz as a gossip columnist at The Oracle while claiming she had been an editor at her paper. Liz desperately wants to cry bullshit, but is too embarrassed about her gig as author of Eyes & Ears.

  • Eric Hankman works at the coffee shop on the first floor of the Western Building. He's tall [six feet tall, if Liz can be trusted] with thick, dark hair, hazel eyes, strong jaw, dimple in right cheek, and unusually handsome. Not that Liz was, uh, looking or anything. According to Darcy: he's a Taurus, born in May, he's seventeen, "stubborn, forthright, down-to-earth" and "very loyal once he's made his mind up about someone." He likes bike riding, music, he plays guitar and has written lyrics, long walks... and oh yeah, he writes poems that are awfully sad. And he drives a wreck of an old Dodge.

  • Liz tells Eric she hasn't written much poetry, but I swear in SY, Liz tells Jeffrey she no longer writes poems, which means during the Jeffrey administration she would have been writing poetry. I am so confused!

  • Eric claims to be from Shaker Heights in Cleveland. Darcy is from Toledo, but lucky for snoopy Darcy, her friend Sue lives in Shaker Heights.

  • Liz and Eric bond over typewriter ribbons and how expensive they are.

  • Liz claims she's going to the beach with Enid, but in reality she's taking Eric out for his first taste of the Sweet Valley tour.

  • Eric and Liz go see the new James Bond movie playing. Because that's what all of Elizabeth's not!boyfriends do.

  • When Liz and Eric swap writing, Liz has written "Futures" a short story about a young girl who's a companion [but not in the Whedon sense] to two elderly sisters. The girl learns a powerful lesson in courage and I gather one of the sisters risks her life for the other. I'm thinking Liz wrote the advanced Golden Girls era story of her and Jess and then inserted a younger Liz into the mix. But that's merely speculation, of course.

  • Eric has Liz read two short poems, "Harvest" and "Leaving You", both of which are pretty bleak. When Liz compliments him, Eric knows he's good, but isn't totally obnoxious about it. Just mildly.

  • Andy Sullivan is the newest intern, from Stanford with light brown, curly hair, sparkling gray-blue eyes, tall, and of course, handsome. DK peeks at his resume and finds out that he's a straight A student, on the varsity basketball team, junior editor of The Stanford Daily, and the recipients of all sorts of awards and honors for sports, writing, and scholastics.

  • Jess is seen getting ready to go jogging. I cry foul. Again.

  • Eric introduces Liz to Petrarch, 14th century Italian poet, who fell for a mysterious Laura and wrote her 366 poems, like "forever and a day." The implication is that there's a happily ever after in there, but there isn't.

  • Darcy swipes a poem from Eric's book, and since he can't admit he's with Liz [or wants to be] he lies and agrees when DK suggests it's meant for her instead. Liz is furious any time she thinks about the poem "To Her" although we never see it.

  • Rich Hankman does business with Ned. He's an attractive man in his early fifties, "a little on the portly side", dark hair, glasses, and a salt and pepper beard.

  • Dan and Amy Beckwith live next door to the Wakefields. Dan is an insurance agent at the Western Building and once he gets an idea in his head, he refuses to let go until he's made a complete ass of himself. They have a son, Jack, who is in San Francisco for the summer.

  • A young man hops out of the passenger side of a black Mercedes, knocks Jessica off her bike, and swipes Eric's book of poetry. He smelled of strong men's cologne and tobacco smoke.

  • Enid's mother has gone to New Mexico for a conference and Liz offers to spend the weekend with Enid to keep her company.

  • The Rollins do not have an answering machine, but they seem to have acquired a cat named Muffy who is "famous" for shredding things. Um, sure, okay.

  • Liz and Eric were supposed to meet in front of the Beach Disco at 8pm, but by ten to nine, Liz realizes she's been stood up.

  • Some guy pretending to be FBI and calls himself Riordon is looking for Eric. He drives a deep blue sedan.

  • Enid suggests going to her aunt's cabin in the woods when she sees how stressed Liz is. Dude, the E/E slash writes itself! Anyway, would that be her aunt's cabin in Tahoe or another aunt?

  • Seth and Liz go to Los Palmos to cover a possible teacher strike later in the summer.

  • When Doc Ryan performs his emergency tracheotomy on little Timmy, it's my first trach experience. Yours?

  • Eric's real name is Michael Ryan.

  • The Hankman's/Ryan's home is a part of the Good Neighbors system, wherein a [giant?] red button on the wall behind the coffee table, when pressed, sounds an alarm in six neighbors' homes as well as the police station. One neighbor will call and if not given the password, will run right over.

  • Frank Richman, Mr. Simon, and Mr. Applebaum [next door neighbor who called] as well as nine other neighbors rush over and manage to overtake two gunmen and a third man... you'd assume they were all pretty good with the killing of people but they couldn't take down that many people even though they had guns? Geez. All this happened Monday evening.

  • Michael's final poem to Liz is entitled "Goodbye Poem".

  • The book has a problem with random "s appearing.




Quotable Sweet Valley:

   Her eyes shone. "I want to get to know as many cute guys as I can. And I want you to help me!" - Seriously, someone illustrate this for me because you know the SVH graphic novel should exist and this scene should be in it. Oh, Darcy... p81

  "Darcy's never been a Dodgers game. Can you believe that?"
  "Well, it makes sense- if she's just moved here," Eric said. - Damn you and your earth logic, Eric! p88

  After all, these things happened. Painful as it was, Eric would have to get over her-somehow. p105
  "Write me another one and bring it up to the office! Oh, and can I have a cup of coffee please?" Darcy demands a love poem with a side of coffee. Classic! p 105

   Darcy looked scornful. "Jess, don't overreact. He's not going to go running around with a machete or anything." p118

  Elizabeth had never really been in this kind of situation before. - This kind of situation, by the way, is thinking a guy was interested in HER when in reality he wanted someone else. Which is untrue. Jess/Todd, book one. That aside, it's also a little bit bitchy to say Liz had never wanted someone who didn't want her back. :P p133

   Muffy was the Rollinses playful cat, famous for exactly this kind of domestic damage. - Uh, since when? p161

  "I'll keep the notebook. But you have to let me give you something in exchange."
  "Oh, Liz," Michael said, folding her in his arms for a last embrace. "You've given me the most wonderful gift in the world. You've made me believe in people again." -Liz/Michael make me wonder what, exactly, Liz would give Mike. A roll in the hay? Her watch? Some trash leftover in the Fiat? What? p 206


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   You may love On the Run. I... just didn't. I don't remember having a raging hatred for anything but Beckwith, so maybe it's just a case of the winter blues clouding my thoughts, but this isn't my favorite of the Thrillers by any stretch of the old imagination. I find parts of it amusing and I think I like the book for them alone. Like DK messing with Liz because Liz bugs her and it kills time at a job she [DK] hates. Also, because it's easy. I like that by this point you totally buy that Eric could be a murderer on the run, and it makes more sense for that to happen than for him to be in the witness protection program. I like that Enid appears [shut up!] and I'm a bit of a softy, so the idea of a book of poems dedicated to me would be awesome in theory, so younger me gets to vote yay for that. But...
  Eric doesn't really appeal, even re-reading it and knowing why he's so angsty. DK's not as fun as her motives [no matter how they try and paint them in a different light] and Lila should never have gone to Carmel. It's boring without her.
   Oh, I do have to wonder why does Jess let DK get away with being such a bitch to Liz? Usually Jess has a strict "only I make Liz cry" policy, but DK seems to have Jess wrapped around her finger. How the hell did that happen? Make it stop!

  Basically the tone of the book is a little off, and a big part of that is the way Jess acts. And, really, you could do better, but you could also do a whole lot worse. [End of the series, I'm totally eyeballing you here!]

   OtR also makes me wonder about Steven. When the twins are busy acting crazy at various times throughout the series, he usually jumps in and attempts to smooth things over. Sure, he's a tool an awful lot of the time, but he was kind of forced to be mediator and the kid who probably got the least amount of attention in that house, even after he decided to take after his father in terms of employment as well as looks. If you jump way, way forward to the Margo months, he has to put on a happy face so that the whole holiday isn't a complete wash, and he's frequently seen doing this sort of thing. This ponderment was brought about after Beckwith repeatedly harassed the guest of honor and the tension needed breaking.

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Couldn't tell you if this is just a wonk-tastic lighting issue, whether there were two sets of the thrillers and they decided to show front and back or what, but I thought I'd share the fact that you could have your very own set of Thrillers which had the OtR cover used for the case.
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the_oracle: (gasp!)
On The Run
June 1988

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A shadowy past...


  After a chilling encounter with murder, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are now ready for a calm summer in Sweet Valley-until Eric Hankman appears.

  Like Elizabeth, Eric is a quiet, sensitive writer, and the two of them immediately become friends.

  But Jessica's not convinced that Eric is as perfect as he seems. Her suspicions are aroused when her new friend, Darcy Kaymen, thinks she recognizes Eric as a boy from her hometown who has a mysterious past. Jessica knows Elizabeth won't believe a word of Darcy's story without evidence, but by the time she has all the proof she needs, it may be too late to save her sister.

  Read ON THE RUN, the second Sweet Valley High Super Thriller!



   What's this? An update? What strange, bizarro universe have we entered? How do you escape? When will the madness end?!

   Yeah, I know. Most people apologize when they disappear. Me? I like to go melodramatically weird. It's why you love me. Well, that and you're bored and looking for something vaguely entertaining, and dude, I do vaguely entertaining like it's my job or something. So, win/win for both of us.

   That said, let's begin. I can now see why I dragged my feet when it came to this particular Thriller. See, I love me some Thriller action. Bring on the Sweet Valley News and its chatter about typewriters and dreamy boy reporters and the interns who get coffee for them! Bring. It. ON! What I don't love, however, is the typical Liz cheats on Todd/Jeffrey formula. Because seriously? It's the same guy, over and over and over. And even though this is one of the first couple of times we've tiptoed down this particular path, and even though I'd pretty much forgotten Liz actually wanted to cheat on Jeffrey* I'm still bored to tears.

  But how can this be, given the material I was given to work with? We've got mob bosses, drug czars, death threats, mistaken identity, murders, new people in from Ohio [what, there was a run on 'em?], nosy neighbors, and oh yeah, the Witness Protection program!
   That's right. I totally ruined the book for you, huh? But yeah, by now you should know better than to read one of these if you haven't actually read the book. Anyway!


  The boredom stems from Liz and her archetype for the cheating on her boyfriend. Should the Valley ever spring to life once more, or possibly you feel like creating your own slice of California heaven and you need the perfect twin to cheat on her boyfriend, you need the following ingredients. It's okay, I've triple-checked this recipe for accuracy and dude, it rarely fails:


  Elizabeth's So Good You'll Cheat On Your Soulmate Boyfriend Man-Candy Recipe:

  • Tall [though truthfully he just needs to be taller than 5'6" and your average guy is. And if he isn't, then you're either dealing with Tom Cruise and should run away immediately, or you're dealing with one of my exes and you should kick them in their freakin' kneecaps and save yourself the trouble]

  • dark [we'll accept anything from medium brown hair right on through to black hair, though usually we like the darker hair]

  • pale [if we're outside California, try and make him preternaturally pale, please]

  • good looking, but not prettier than either Todd or Jeffrey

  • moody [We accept no substitutions on this one!]

  • a writer [any sort will do]

  • mysterious past with bonus points being given if he's got parental issues or you seriously consider him a potential murderer in that "it's always the quiet ones" sort of way.



   Your eyes may vary, but it's generally a good rule of thumb to go with a lovely contrast to that fabulous hair and try blue, green, or a lovely gray. Blue is the most common, but think of all the blues you could use! Green and gray come in one shade apiece, so really, with blue you get your money's worth. Mix it all together and you've got a guy Liz will fall for given enough time and Jess will probably agree is mildly less repulsive than Bob down in accounting, but not hot enough to fight her twin for**. Because that, you see, would just complicate the plot and we cannot have that.

  Normally I'd have given you an extremely long winded recap of the events and I'm sure you're waiting for that. I'm delaying the pain because, well, nothing freakin' happens.

  It's July. Liz and Jess are working at the Sweet Valley News, remember? Jess is bitching about the gig and due to her run in with a murderer, she's not really into the water cooler gossip going around about the DeLucca trial. Frank DeLucca's on trial for a variety of things, the most recent being murder, and most people seem to think he's going to get away with it because all the witnesses have either had lapses in their memory or refuse to testify. Cuz that ain't shady at all, DeLucca. Anyway, fascinating as this is, it's happening in New York.
   Strike One. I find it really hard to get behind a twisty plot where the action takes place off screen in New York when I'm centered in SV, California. Sorry. It's not even that I don't fully buy that people across the country would give a damn about such a thing as it's entirely possible the case is just that big. It's just that I don't care.

  So, I'm with Jessica on this. That whole 'murderer nearly killed me and the twin' thing would make it so that I wouldn't want to focus on a guy who probably killed, or had other people kill, a whole bunch of people. I'd want some rainbows, unicorns, and cute guys not made out of sensible twin's recipe.
   Since she works at a newspaper though, that ain't gonna happen. Seth and Dan get into a pissing contest over their beliefs as to whether anyone will come forward and nail DeLucca's ass to the wall or not. Dan says no one's that brave/stupid, and Seth disagrees. We all know that Liz has taken Seth's side even before she ever so earnestly shares her opinion with us.
  For whatever reason, we're introduced to Darcy K, who is the third intern and a recent transplant from Ohio. DK and Jess hit it off for reasons I never really do understand because DK is a two-faced bitch who isn't even all that subtle or smart in her bitchitude. I expect better from my Valley vixens, okay? Lila would never let this girl in, and you know how she feels about Liz during the Jeffrey years...
  Anyway, DK rarely has an opinion of her own and all the thoughts she does share with the class come filtered through her father. It's as annoying as you'd think it would be. Liz and DK clash immediately and the guys are oblivious because, well, they're guys.
   Back to the DeLucca case. Dr. Ryan has appeared with evidence, DeLucca is sent packing and the peasants rejoice. I... snore softly in the corner.

  During a fit of DK's bitchery, DK tells Liz to get Dan a coffee with cream and sugar, only Dan's allergic to cream [wha?] and Liz has to make two coffee runs. She meets Eric, new guy from Ohio [see?] and they hit it off because he was made for her. He actually sounds a bit creepy considering how he runs hot and cold so easily, but hey, that's Elizabeth's fling-type, so, whatever. Naturally DK falls for Eric much like Jess would [as in not really, but the idea that he's not in love with her is one too vexing to dwell on] and friction ensues when DK realizes Eric isn't all that interested. Except...
   I'm getting ahead of myself. Eric and Liz hit it off. Since he's new and not a psychotic bitch [or is he?], Liz offers him a tour of the city. He takes her up on it and you know they'll fall for each other and they do, but Liz doesn't want Jeffrey to find out or for Eric to find out about Jeffrey although, at this point, she and Eric haven't even kissed. She just wants them to. So they agree to keep things quiet.
  Thing is, anytime Liz asks about Eric's past, he clams up and gets this look in his eyes that freaks her out a little. Still, he's just her type...
   Doesn't take long for DK to realize Eric's not totally interested, but before she can get good and mad, she finds out that another intern, this one male, is going to appear. Still, DK is nosy, so she calls her friend back in Ohio to see if she knew Eric before he moved. No such luck, but hey, a girl was murdered right before Eric showed up in Sweet Valley. Based on this and the vague notion that a guy fitting the same description is the suspected killer, DK and Jess decide Eric is obviously Christopher Wyeth, the murderer.
  And you know, given how these things work out, the odds were actually in their favor.

  With this knowledge, DK and Jess don't go to the cops or their parents. Instead they decide to keep an eye on Eric to see if he'll crack. Right, sure, sounds good. *draws air circles near temples* Because the Valley is the size of a postage stamp, Mr. Wakefield knows Eric's father [he's a client] and invites him over for dinner. He also invites the next door neighbors, the Beckwiths. Interesting, as the Beckwiths are frequently mentioned but rarely seen on screen.
   There's a damn fine reason for that. Mr. Beckwith is an ass. The kind I will never be able to keep my mouth shut around when I'm old and cranky. He gets it into his head that he knows Eric's father from somewhere and will not shut up about it. I fully expect Mr. H to bitchslap him while shouting, "YOU DON"T KNOW ME, OKAY?"
  But he doesn't. Blergh. Jess is watching Eric and her twin like a hawk because she's fairly certain, given the level of moodiness and time it took Liz to get ready for the dinner, Liz has a thing for Eric and that he, DK's insanity aside, likes Liz too. Only there really isn't much to see.

  For two people who aren't dating, Liz and Eric have an awful lot of breakup moments. Liz gets pissed when she thinks Eric wrote a "love poem" for DK, but in reality it was for Liz but Eric didn't want to blow their cover. Then, despite Jessica's attempt to keep in the dark, Eric finds out about Jeffrey and is pissed.
  Now Jess is worried because if Eric really is Chris Wyeth, Amy and company have just handed him perfect motive for offing Saint Liz. Y'know, that whole she has a steady boyfriend that she never bothered to mention thing kind of stings.
  Jess tries desperately to get a hold of Liz but things have gone horribly wrong all weekend. Liz has gone to Enid's for the weekend and the note she leaves is destroyed by Enid's cat [what cat?], when Jess impersonated Liz prior to the Jeffrey revelation, the notebook she scammed off Eric was stolen by some creep in a Mercedes, and now Liz is off on assignment with Eric. To complicate matters, DK is a little more interested in her thing for the new intern than she is in keeping Saint Liz in possession of her life. Priorities, Jess!
  Anyway, Liz and Eric run into each other at the end of the day Monday evening and Eric is pissed. He drags Liz off somewhere, Jess freaks out and attempts to follow, only to be thwarted by Mr. Beckwith who is screaming about a little boy choking in Eric's little coffee shop. [Dude, so fired!] Jess panics and calls 9-1-1 after being all but slapped into action. Eric's father appears and heads off to help, which is odd because isn't he a "business" man? We need a doctor, man!
  Yeah, all those who realize that he's Dr. Ryan in disguise, give yourselves a couple of cookies. Eric tries to stop his father from interfering but his father goes in to do my very first tracheotomy.

  And this is the part that drove me bonkers even way back when.
  Beckwith finally puts all the pieces together and shouts, for all the fucking world to hear, that this is Dr. Ryan!
  What part of hit on his life do you not understand? No cookies for you, Beckwith! NO COOKIES!

   Eric and his father head home to pack and run away before they can be killed. Liz follows to say goodbye and to gush all over Eric who is really Michael. Only as Mike and Doc are packing, the bad guys find them and Liz must save the day.
  How? By realizing Doc never disconnected the previous owner's security, so she slams a button [red?] and informs Eric that the house is part of the Good Neighbors network and that right now at least six of their neighbors are rallying the troops. They'll call and if Doc doesn't give the password, they'll storm the fortress of solitude!
  And damn if that isn't what happens, although, um, would Doc even KNOW the password? I guess he could just say, "dude, what? No, we're cool" if it had been an accident... Still, as a kid I really liked this part, so I'll let it slide. After the cops appear and the day is saved, Liz and Mike say goodbye, their hearts breaking and whatnot, and by this point not even the ghost of my younger self can keep me motivated. Liz runs home, cries to herself and finally reads Eric's notebook which he's given her, seeing as all the poems contained within are written about her. The last breaks her heart and the music swells. End scene.
  Really, the book should have ended there, but we go back for more of DK so that she can inform us that gosh, Sweet Valley is ever so boring and Jess can think that it's really turning out to be awfully exciting.

  I died, really.


*In my memory, Liz and Jeffrey last for like, two seconds, so it's not so much that she didn't have ample opportunity to do what she does best on vacations, it's that she simply didn't have time. Re-reading the Valley has proven me wrong. Jeffrey lasted for a decent chunk of time, all things considered, and mostly Liz is as faithful as she is capable of being, given that she's a fictional sixteen year old girl who has wacky adventures and sometimes we need the nerdier twin to get some action.

** But later will totally be revealed in a diary entry that she did, in fact, skank it up behind Elizabeth's back. Oh, wait, that's reserved for Jeffrey and Todd. Never mind.




Trivia:

  • Liz and Jess are described, repeatedly, as identical opposites this go round. Later Liz will complain that she'll never be able to fully live up to the ideal everyone has created for her. She says to the guy she's cheating on her boyfriend with.

  • Lila's in Carmel.

  • The DeLucca case refers to Frank DeLucca who is on trial for murder and racketeering, though it's widely believed he's responsible for "countless crimes of murder, espionage, illegal drug and gambling activities." He was busted at the murder scene of Ray Underwood, but since then no one's been able to testify against him.

  • Ray Underwood was one of DeLucca's underlings who decided to do the right thing and ended up dead for his trouble. In his late teens he was diagnosed with early on-set diabetes and was referred to Dr. Ryan, and when Ray realized his days were numbered, he delivered his confession/fears in writing to the doc, just in case.

  • Seth Miller and Dan Weeks are the youngest reporters at the Sweet Valley News [SVN].

  • Dan is sure no one will ever testify against DeLucca. Seth disagrees. Liz agrees with Seth, Darcy Kaymen, the new intern, agrees with Dan. As does her Daddy.

  • Darcy Kaymen has silky red hair, brown eyes, freckles, is on the curvy side, looks like she's seventeen, will be enrolled in Whitehead Academy in the fall, got her internship because her father knows the man who runs SVN, and would rather have worked at the mall, or a cute boutique. If you did a shot for every time she said "my father" you'd die of liver failure within a day.

  • Darcy calls Liz "Crusader" and it is not a term of endearment.

  • Jessica's newest Hollywood crush is Cliff Benjamin, a young actor who's been in a slew of teenage movies. Darcy allegedly went the same school as he did back in Toledo.

  • Darcy has a little trouble with the truth and skews reality to the point where you want to smack her.

  • Jeffrey's back in three weeks, and the book itself covers about two, so he's expected back at the end of July/early August.

  • Liz and Jeffrey agreed to talk twice a week, not including letters.

  • Jeffrey's been teaching guys how to canoe. Jess mocks this.

  • William Ryan is Ray Underwood's Manhattan doctor [specializing in internal medicine] of six years who steps up with the evidence Ray left with him after Ray became convinced he wasn't long for this world.

  • Ray accused DeLucca and two other, unnamed, men of being the heads of an international drug ring.

  • Other minions at SVN: typesetter Paul is a lanky dude and Stan Fisher is the head of the editorial section.

  • The good people of the SVN call the corner diner across from the Western Building the Press Club.

  • While at the Press Club, Darcy outed Liz as a gossip columnist at The Oracle while claiming she had been an editor at her paper. Liz desperately wants to cry bullshit, but is too embarrassed about her gig as author of Eyes & Ears.

  • Eric Hankman works at the coffee shop on the first floor of the Western Building. He's tall [six feet tall, if Liz can be trusted] with thick, dark hair, hazel eyes, strong jaw, dimple in right cheek, and unusually handsome. Not that Liz was, uh, looking or anything. According to Darcy: he's a Taurus, born in May, he's seventeen, "stubborn, forthright, down-to-earth" and "very loyal once he's made his mind up about someone." He likes bike riding, music, he plays guitar and has written lyrics, long walks... and oh yeah, he writes poems that are awfully sad. And he drives a wreck of an old Dodge.

  • Liz tells Eric she hasn't written much poetry, but I swear in SY, Liz tells Jeffrey she no longer writes poems, which means during the Jeffrey administration she would have been writing poetry. I am so confused!

  • Eric claims to be from Shaker Heights in Cleveland. Darcy is from Toledo, but lucky for snoopy Darcy, her friend Sue lives in Shaker Heights.

  • Liz and Eric bond over typewriter ribbons and how expensive they are.

  • Liz claims she's going to the beach with Enid, but in reality she's taking Eric out for his first taste of the Sweet Valley tour.

  • Eric and Liz go see the new James Bond movie playing. Because that's what all of Elizabeth's not!boyfriends do.

  • When Liz and Eric swap writing, Liz has written "Futures" a short story about a young girl who's a companion [but not in the Whedon sense] to two elderly sisters. The girl learns a powerful lesson in courage and I gather one of the sisters risks her life for the other. I'm thinking Liz wrote the advanced Golden Girls era story of her and Jess and then inserted a younger Liz into the mix. But that's merely speculation, of course.

  • Eric has Liz read two short poems, "Harvest" and "Leaving You", both of which are pretty bleak. When Liz compliments him, Eric knows he's good, but isn't totally obnoxious about it. Just mildly.

  • Andy Sullivan is the newest intern, from Stanford with light brown, curly hair, sparkling gray-blue eyes, tall, and of course, handsome. DK peeks at his resume and finds out that he's a straight A student, on the varsity basketball team, junior editor of The Stanford Daily, and the recipients of all sorts of awards and honors for sports, writing, and scholastics.

  • Jess is seen getting ready to go jogging. I cry foul. Again.

  • Eric introduces Liz to Petrarch, 14th century Italian poet, who fell for a mysterious Laura and wrote her 366 poems, like "forever and a day." The implication is that there's a happily ever after in there, but there isn't.

  • Darcy swipes a poem from Eric's book, and since he can't admit he's with Liz [or wants to be] he lies and agrees when DK suggests it's meant for her instead. Liz is furious any time she thinks about the poem "To Her" although we never see it.

  • Rich Hankman does business with Ned. He's an attractive man in his early fifties, "a little on the portly side", dark hair, glasses, and a salt and pepper beard.

  • Dan and Amy Beckwith live next door to the Wakefields. Dan is an insurance agent at the Western Building and once he gets an idea in his head, he refuses to let go until he's made a complete ass of himself. They have a son, Jack, who is in San Francisco for the summer.

  • A young man hops out of the passenger side of a black Mercedes, knocks Jessica off her bike, and swipes Eric's book of poetry. He smelled of strong men's cologne and tobacco smoke.

  • Enid's mother has gone to New Mexico for a conference and Liz offers to spend the weekend with Enid to keep her company.

  • The Rollins do not have an answering machine, but they seem to have acquired a cat named Muffy who is "famous" for shredding things. Um, sure, okay.

  • Liz and Eric were supposed to meet in front of the Beach Disco at 8pm, but by ten to nine, Liz realizes she's been stood up.

  • Some guy pretending to be FBI and calls himself Riordon is looking for Eric. He drives a deep blue sedan.

  • Enid suggests going to her aunt's cabin in the woods when she sees how stressed Liz is. Dude, the E/E slash writes itself! Anyway, would that be her aunt's cabin in Tahoe or another aunt?

  • Seth and Liz go to Los Palmos to cover a possible teacher strike later in the summer.

  • When Doc Ryan performs his emergency tracheotomy on little Timmy, it's my first trach experience. Yours?

  • Eric's real name is Michael Ryan.

  • The Hankman's/Ryan's home is a part of the Good Neighbors system, wherein a [giant?] red button on the wall behind the coffee table, when pressed, sounds an alarm in six neighbors' homes as well as the police station. One neighbor will call and if not given the password, will run right over.

  • Frank Richman, Mr. Simon, and Mr. Applebaum [next door neighbor who called] as well as nine other neighbors rush over and manage to overtake two gunmen and a third man... you'd assume they were all pretty good with the killing of people but they couldn't take down that many people even though they had guns? Geez. All this happened Monday evening.

  • Michael's final poem to Liz is entitled "Goodbye Poem".

  • The book has a problem with random "s appearing.




Quotable Sweet Valley:

   Her eyes shone. "I want to get to know as many cute guys as I can. And I want you to help me!" - Seriously, someone illustrate this for me because you know the SVH graphic novel should exist and this scene should be in it. Oh, Darcy... p81

  "Darcy's never been a Dodgers game. Can you believe that?"
  "Well, it makes sense- if she's just moved here," Eric said. - Damn you and your earth logic, Eric! p88

  After all, these things happened. Painful as it was, Eric would have to get over her-somehow. p105
  "Write me another one and bring it up to the office! Oh, and can I have a cup of coffee please?" Darcy demands a love poem with a side of coffee. Classic! p 105

   Darcy looked scornful. "Jess, don't overreact. He's not going to go running around with a machete or anything." p118

  Elizabeth had never really been in this kind of situation before. - This kind of situation, by the way, is thinking a guy was interested in HER when in reality he wanted someone else. Which is untrue. Jess/Todd, book one. That aside, it's also a little bit bitchy to say Liz had never wanted someone who didn't want her back. :P p133

   Muffy was the Rollinses playful cat, famous for exactly this kind of domestic damage. - Uh, since when? p161

  "I'll keep the notebook. But you have to let me give you something in exchange."
  "Oh, Liz," Michael said, folding her in his arms for a last embrace. "You've given me the most wonderful gift in the world. You've made me believe in people again." -Liz/Michael make me wonder what, exactly, Liz would give Mike. A roll in the hay? Her watch? Some trash leftover in the Fiat? What? p 206


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   You may love On the Run. I... just didn't. I don't remember having a raging hatred for anything but Beckwith, so maybe it's just a case of the winter blues clouding my thoughts, but this isn't my favorite of the Thrillers by any stretch of the old imagination. I find parts of it amusing and I think I like the book for them alone. Like DK messing with Liz because Liz bugs her and it kills time at a job she [DK] hates. Also, because it's easy. I like that by this point you totally buy that Eric could be a murderer on the run, and it makes more sense for that to happen than for him to be in the witness protection program. I like that Enid appears [shut up!] and I'm a bit of a softy, so the idea of a book of poems dedicated to me would be awesome in theory, so younger me gets to vote yay for that. But...
  Eric doesn't really appeal, even re-reading it and knowing why he's so angsty. DK's not as fun as her motives [no matter how they try and paint them in a different light] and Lila should never have gone to Carmel. It's boring without her.
   Oh, I do have to wonder why does Jess let DK get away with being such a bitch to Liz? Usually Jess has a strict "only I make Liz cry" policy, but DK seems to have Jess wrapped around her finger. How the hell did that happen? Make it stop!

  Basically the tone of the book is a little off, and a big part of that is the way Jess acts. And, really, you could do better, but you could also do a whole lot worse. [End of the series, I'm totally eyeballing you here!]

   OtR also makes me wonder about Steven. When the twins are busy acting crazy at various times throughout the series, he usually jumps in and attempts to smooth things over. Sure, he's a tool an awful lot of the time, but he was kind of forced to be mediator and the kid who probably got the least amount of attention in that house, even after he decided to take after his father in terms of employment as well as looks. If you jump way, way forward to the Margo months, he has to put on a happy face so that the whole holiday isn't a complete wash, and he's frequently seen doing this sort of thing. This ponderment was brought about after Beckwith repeatedly harassed the guest of honor and the tension needed breaking.

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Couldn't tell you if this is just a wonk-tastic lighting issue, whether there were two sets of the thrillers and they decided to show front and back or what, but I thought I'd share the fact that you could have your very own set of Thrillers which had the OtR cover used for the case.
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the_oracle: the cover image from Double Love, classic SVH (Default)
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