Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #1: Double Jeopardy
Well, it’s summer again in Sweet Valley. What is that, the fourth one this year? The twins have internships lined up at The Sweet Valley News. Jessica isn’t happy about it at first, but then she meets Seth Miller, a superfabulous twenty-two-year-old reporter. She’s totally in love with him, but she’s worried Liz might develop a thing for him too, what with Jeffrey spending the summer out of town as a camp counselor and all. Steve solves her problem when he invites a college buddy, Adam Maitland, to spend the summer at the Wakefields’ house. Jessica figures she can get Liz interested in Adam, leaving Seth free for her. Unfortunately, Adam has a girlfriend and seems to be really wrapped up in her. He tells the Wakefields that Laurie is the granddaughter of some oil tycoon who doesn’t want her to have anything to do with Adam. He wants her to marry the son of some other rich guy, but Laurie doesn’t like him because he’s unbalanced. Jessica tells Liz that Adam seems really down and suggests she spend time with him. Oblivious somehow to Jessica’s real intentions, Liz agrees and vows to spend as much time as she can with Adam to make him feel at home.
Seth Miller writes mystery novels in his spare time, so to get him interested in her, Jessica thinks she should come up with some real life mysteries to tell him about. So she starts spying on the neighbors. At work on Monday, Seth is working on a story about a fire at the Box Tree Café. Jessica tells him she has a source who told her it was arson. Seth whisks her off to the restaurant to ask some questions. The owner laughs at them, saying he saw the whole thing. It was just some rags that were too close to the stove and caught on fire. Seth is pissed, but Jessica uses her wiles to placate him.
Jessica decides the best way to get Liz interested in Adam is to forge a love letter from him. Liz finds a typewritten letter under her pillow. She’s shocked that Adam is in love with her. She hides the letter in her bookcase and decides to forget all about it and not even confront Adam.
The next day, Jessica tells Seth she knows who stole some money from the bank. She invents a whole story about it and Seth writes an article and gives it to the boss, Mr. Robb, who takes it back to his office to check it out. Later, he calls Seth and Jessica into his office and threatens to fire them both for the phony story. Jessica “selflessly” takes the blame to keep Seth from getting fired. Mr. Robb lets Seth keep his job and demotes Jessica, handing her over to Sondra in data entry. Jessica tells Seth he doesn’t have to thank her, but if he wants to take her to dinner she’d be okay with that. Seth is incredulous and stomps off. Jessica ends up working until ten o’clock that night, and when she finally packs up to leave she’s the only one left in the office. In the parking garage, she sees a man carrying something wrapped in a blanket. When he shifts his weight, a woman’s arm comes loose. Jessica freaks out and races home.
Her family is out when she gets home but she’s too scared to be alone. She calls Seth and somehow makes him believe that she saw something. He comes over and they go back to the garage to see if the man’s white Trans Am is still there. It’s gone, but Jessica notices Adam’s car is there. Seth drops Jessica off at home and she tells her family everything. They’re skeptical, but then the phone rings. It’s the police and they have Adam in custody. He has apparently been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Laurie. He found her body in the trunk of his car and called the police. When they got there they found the murder weapon in his glove compartment. The police want Jessica to come down to the station to explain what she saw, though how they know anything about Jessica, I have no idea.
The next day, Liz is freaking out about Adam’s love letter, which says things like, “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.” It’s looking pretty bad for Adam, and Liz feels she has to speak up. She gives the letter to her father. A couple days later, the letter has made headlines. Jessica surprises me by doing the right thing and going to the police. The sergeant tells her not to tell anyone else about the letter because he wants the killer to be comfy thinking Adam is going to take the blame. However, Jessica can’t resist telling Seth that she really wrote the letter. She asks for his help in finding the real killer.
Jessica and Seth go visit Adam and ask him about the guy Laurie’s grandfather wanted her to marry. They find out his name is Tom Winslow and he’s a real mess. Depression, you know. Jessica is convinced Tom is the real killer. That night, she’s supposed to meet Lila and Amy at the Dairi Burger but she doesn’t have a ride. She takes the Fiat, even though her parents have told the twins not to drive it because the killer could recognize it. She’s on the road for about five minutes and then she sees the Trans Am with the rust stain on the side. She goes straight to the police station and tells them the guy is still in town. Ned and Alice ground Jessica for taking the car, but then let her go to an office party at the newspaper because it’s, like, important or something.
Seth is supposed to take the twins to the party, but he calls and says he’ll have to meet them there. So they decide to take Steve’s car. Then the police call Jessica and want her to come by the station. She explains to them that she has a party to go to and they offer to send a squad car to pick her up and take her to the party later. Right, because the cops care about your crappy office party. At the station, the police show her a photograph of Tom Winslow. Jessica recognizes him immediately as the guy she saw in the garage.
Liz can’t get Steve’s car started, she doesn’t feel safe walking to the bus stop and it’ll be forty-five minutes before she can get a cab. She doesn’t want to disappoint Mr. Robb by not showing up at the party, so she takes the Fiat. Liz, Mr. Robb doesn’t care if you come to the party. Your parents may care if you end up dead, though. Stupid girl.
The police sergeant drops Jessica off in the parking garage, you know, the same parking garage where Laurie’s body was found, because I guess he can’t be bothered to walk her inside or something. What the hell is wrong with the people in this town? Jessica is terrified as she walks through the garage to the elevator, and it only gets worse when she sees the Trans Am with the rust stain on it. She gets to the office as fast as she can and I guess she thinks it’s more important to find Seth than to call the police. She finds him talking to someone and calls his name. When the other man turns around, Jessica is horrified to see it’s Tom Winslow. Seth introduces him as a friend of Bob the sports editor. Jessica gets Seth alone and tells him Tom is the man they’ve been looking for. Seth doesn’t believe her and tells her Tom Winslow is Bob’s friend. I must have read something wrong, because I swore Seth was with Jessica when Adam was talking about Tom Winslow. Anyway, Seth sees the panic on Jessica’s face and finally believes her. He tells her to stay put and keep Tom at the party while he goes off to call the police. He’s gone for a really long time and Jessica is finding it difficult to keep Tom from leaving. He finally just leaves and gets out to the parking garage just in time to see Liz pull up in the Fiat. Tom thinks Liz is Jessica and pulls her out of the car. A guard comes along, but Tom knocks him out with a lead pipe he’s somehow gotten hold of. He pushes Liz against the car, where she hits her head and passes out. Jessica, entering the garage, sees this. She picks up a conveniently placed tire iron, sneaks up behind Tom and knocks him out.
Jessica wakes Liz and they start to run away, but Tom wakes up and threatens them some more with his lead pipe. Jessica tells Liz to run for the door and get help. While she’s doing that, Jessica attacks Tom and gets the pipe from him. Just then Seth shows up with some guards. Tom is captured and Adam is free to go. Mr. Robb gives the murder story to Seth and Jessica. Hooray!
“I’m sure once you think about it you’ll realize how unselfishly I behaved,” she said self-righteously. “And you’ll probably want to take me out to dinner or something. In which case–”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Seth snapped, stomping off and leaving her staring, stricken, after him.
Finally, a guy who doesn’t just melt at Jessica’s “charm.” Too bad he totally falls for her at the end.
“You can’t ground me,” Jessica wailed. “You guys, nobody gets grounded anymore.”
Ah, the logic of youth.
The Cover: Liz! You are sixteen years old. You are not middle-aged. You are not really a reporter. Stop dressing like Murder She Wrote.