Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #3: No Place to Hide

The moral of the story: Summer is a dangerous time to be a Wakefield.

Synopsis:

The endless summer is dragging on and the twins are still working as interns at The Sweet Valley News. Mayoral elections are coming up and Jessica thinks Kincaid should win because he’s handsome. He’s doing well in the polls, but nobody really knows much about him. What they do know seems shady. As usual, Liz and Seth Miller are on the same side, and the whole newspaper is backing Kincaid’s opponent, Miles Robinson.

The newspaper is having their company picnic at a park in Ronoma County, about forty miles outside Sweet Valley. Liz decides to invite Nicholas Morrow to the picnic to cheer him up since he’s been so depressed about Regina lately. He’s not having any fun so he decides to explore the woods around the park. Liz goes with him and they come upon a big old house with a sign out front that proclaiming it “Bayview House.” The house is all beaten up and spooky, but they meet a girl there named Barbara. She’s Liz’s age and, of course, beautiful. She lives in Switzerland (what is Francine’s obsession with Switzerland?) and is living in the big house for the summer with her uncle and an ancient housekeeper. Nicholas is enchanted by Barbara and tells her all about himself and Sweet Valley. Barbara hears her uncle calling from the house and gets up and runs off, explaining that he gets terribly angry if she doesn’t come as soon as she’s called. Nicholas is distraught that he didn’t get her last name or her phone number or anything.

Nicholas drives back out to Bayview House the next day. The creepy uncle comes to the door and is all mean and tells Nicholas to leave and not come back. So he drives away with his Jeep’s top down and hears Barbara’s dog barking. Then he can hear Barbara singing. She’s delighted to see him and seems to think there is nothing odd about his claims that he’ll just die if he can’t ever see her again. She says they can meet, but her uncle can never find out.

At work on Monday, Jessica and Liz get their big special assignments. Liz will be working with Seth on the election story, while Jessica will be working with Dan Weeks on a story about an artist named Paul Lazarow who headed an artists’ colony in Ronoma County in the forties and now has a posthumous exhibit going on at the Sweet Valley Art Museum. After work, the twins stop at the Morrows’ house to see how Nicholas is doing. He says he’s about to go see Barbara and wants them to go with him. When they get to Bayview House, there’s a Jaguar parked in the driveway that wasn’t there last time. Barbara meets Nicholas and the twins in the woods and tells them it’s a bad time because Uncle John has a visitor. Apparently, John is always in a bad mood when “the visitor” comes. Barbara’s dog starts growling and Nicholas and the twins hide just before Uncle John finds Barbara, twists her arm and kicks her dog. He makes sure she knows she’s not allowed to see anyone as long as she’s living there, then drags her back to the house.

The next day at work, the twins are talking about their assignments. Jessica thinks it’s strange that neither of them has ever heard of this Paul Lazarow guy and his artist colony before and remarks on what a coincidence it is that all this stuff about Ronoma is coming up lately. Right after that, Seth shows Liz the yearbook from mayoral candidate Kincaid’s high school. Turns out Kincaid was studying art. Liz looks at the picture of Kincaid and thinks he looks like someone she’s seen recently, but who? Liz, you make a terrible investigative reporter.

Nicholas goes back to Bayview House to see Barbara. She tells him she’s been having a horrible nightmare every night about a man chasing her off the cliffs near the house. There’s a birthday cake in the dream too. She says her birthday is next Friday, which also happens to be her grandmother’s birthday. Coincidentally, her grandmother’s name was also Barbara, she looked just like Barbara, she had a dog just like Barbara’s and she died from falling off the cliffs on her birthday. Very strange. Barbara tells Nicholas that he and the twins are in danger because Uncle John is a crazy person. When Nicholas leaves that night, he sees the silver Jaguar again. Oh, and Barbara’s great-grandfather was an artist.

Nicholas has lunch with the twins the next day and when he gets back to his car there’s a note on his windshield telling him to stay away from Barbara. Liz tells him to go to the police, but he says Barbara told him if anyone goes to the police, Uncle John will hurt Josine, the housekeeper. Okay. So Liz tells him to stay away from Barbara, but he looooves her. He decides not to tell Barbara about the note. He tells Barbara to sneak out of the house so he can take her to dinner and they can forget all about Bayview House for one night. She agrees, even though Josine will be in terrible danger if Barbara gets caught. When they get to the restaurant, Nicholas sees the silver Jaguar parked outside. Because he promised not to talk about any no-fun stuff, and because he’s a fucking idiot, he doesn’t say anything to Barbara and they go inside and get seated. There’s a man at a nearby table gaping at them and Nicholas thinks it’s lucky that Barbara has her back to him because he wants her to have a good time tonight. After he takes Barbara home, he sees the Jaguar parked on the side of the road, empty.

Nicholas goes to visit the twins the next day and sees Russell Kincaid’s picture on Liz’s newspaper. He’s never seen him before (he’s been too depressed about Regina to look at a newspaper in ages), and he recognizes him as the man from the restaurant, who must be the owner of the Jaguar. He must see Barbara, so he goes out there, even though she told him never to come during the day. When he gets there, she’s wearing jeans instead of the old-fashioned dresses she usually wears and she’s been crying. Apparently, her dog is missing and she’s sure Uncle John has done something with him as a warning. She and Nicholas search for him, but all they find is his collar. Barbara tells him not to come back for a few days because it’s too dangerous. She walks him back to his Jeep and they find the tires slashed and the windshield busted.

Nicholas accompanies the twins to the art museum to check out Paul Lazarow’s paintings. They’re all shocked to see a painting entitled “Artist’s Daughter” that could easily be a painting of Barbara, right down to the blue dress she’s wearing. They go to the newspaper office to look through the archives and find that Russell Kincaid was part of Paul Lazarow’s artists’ colony. Wow, I never would have guessed that all these things are connected somehow. The three of them go to Bayview House and find Barbara and Josine talking in the woods. Barbara says she knows Uncle John is trying to confuse Josine by making her wear her grandmother’s clothes. Then Josine tells her that her grandmother was murdered.

The next night, Liz goes through the archives again and finds an article about Russell Kincaid being questioned in Barbara’s grandmother’s death. She studies the picture and realizes why Kincaid looks so familiar. He looks just like Uncle John! They must be brothers! Just then the phone rings and a threatening voice tells Liz she’s being watched and she needs to stay away from Barbara. The next day, the twins find some more old newspapers. Apparently, Kincaid and some guy named Jack were competing for the first Barbara’s affection.

Nicholas and the twins are convinced that John is going to kill Barbara on her birthday, so they go to Bayview House with the intent to kidnap her. The plan is for Jessica to stay in the car and keep it running while Liz knocks on the door and distracts whoever answers. Nicholas will throw pebbles at Barbara’s window to get her to come out. But Liz falls and sprains her ankle and Jessica comes after her. Liz tells her she’ll have to be the one to go to the door. Jessica runs off and then John comes out of the woods and accosts Liz. She manages to get him to tell her that yes, he is Russell Kincaid’s brother, and he doesn’t want Kincaid to be mayor. He brought Barbara to California to make Kincaid think he’s seeing a ghost. Whatever, this is very stupid. John knocks Liz out.

Jessica and Nicholas see Russell Kincaid pulling Barbara toward the cliff and then pull her over. Barbara is holding onto a ledge, but Kincaid is nowhere to be seen. Nicholas pulls Barbara up. They all go to look for Liz, but all they find is her lavaliere. Aw, just like the dog. They go inside to see if Josine knows anything. She’s tied to a chair and we get some revelations that I don’t really care about by way of her demented ramblings. Then she says John came in carrying Liz, got the key to the studio and went back outside. They race to the studio, which is a smaller building out back, and find Liz and the dog inside. It looks like John took off when he thought Kincaid and Barbara were both dead. Liz is pretty messed up so Nicholas calls an ambulance. Nicholas and Barbara go to the police station while Liz and Jessica go to the hospital. As they’re leaving, Nicholas notices Kincaid’s Jaguar is gone.

Christ, I still have fifty pages left to get through.

Later that night, Jessica meets Nicholas and Barbara at the police station and listens to Barbara tell the cops what happened. Then some other cops bring John in after catching him trying to go to Mexico. He confesses everything. Here’s the rundown: Back in the day, John and his brother Russell were part of Lazarow’s artists’ colony. Russell and a guy named Jack both loved the first Barbara, but she loved Jack. She and Jack married in secret because her father was overprotective and she later had a baby, our Barbara’s mother. Russell was insane with jealousy and pushed Barbara over the cliff but was never convicted. He and John started some kind of business together and everything was fine until Russell decided to run for mayor of Sweet Valley. John wouldn’t support him so Russell ended their partnership and took John for millions of dollars. John wanted to get back at him and make him quit the race by making him think he was insane. So he lied to our Barbara’s parents and said he was a cousin of Barbara’s grandmother and wanted her to come visit for the summer. He made Barbara dress in old clothes and walk along the cliffs at dusk and made sure Russell saw her and thought it was the first Barbara’s ghost.

Dude.

Barbara has a talk with Josine, who tells her everything else. After the first Barbara died, Jack freaked out and kind of went crazy. He couldn’t take care of the baby, so a friend of Barbara’s adopted her and that’s why our Barbara’s mother didn’t know anything about her family. It turns out Jack is still alive and living in a rest home. Barbara goes to see him and he ends up going back to Switzerland with her.

The end.

Quotes:

“You can’t tell me not to come back,” Nicholas cried. “I won’t be able to stand it!”

This is just a taste of Nicholas’ proclamations of love and desire. This particular quote is from his second meeting with Barbara, after he’s known her a grand total of ten minutes.

“You guys, this is weird! I think Barbara is a ghost!”

Sometimes Jessica makes me laugh a lot. I love the way she says this in total earnest.

The Cover: That would be such an awesome picture if it weren’t for those blond nuisances in the foreground.

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Comments
  • girltalkread June 5, 2009 at 8:56 am

    I reviwed this one awhile ago- it was so shiteous it’s not even funny!

    [Reply]

  • Claire April 9, 2010 at 10:28 am

    What.The.Fuck….that REALLY hurt my brain…I think I need to re-read it….stupid Francine and her bullshit.

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous April 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Total ripoff of the Uninvited (1944)

    [Reply]

  • Angela2BPecked May 29, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Cover: Liz is practicing her yodeling at the same moment Jessica realizes she has a sore throat.

    [Reply]

  • sour_hill September 25, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Oh, Johnny, I’m always in a bad mood when I have “the visitor”, too! Have some Midol.

    [Reply]

  • Alex Kennedy February 22, 2017 at 8:34 am

    What is WITH the twins always working as interns for a newspaper? They worked as interns in SVU as well (I think) and then in England.

    [Reply]

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