Sweet Valley High #104: Love and Death in London
The Big Deal: Summer vacation.
It’s summer again, but this time, instead of interning at the Sweet Valley News, the twins are going all the way to London to be newspaper interns. Lila throws them a party the night before they leave, and shows the movie An American Werewolf in London. Now Liz is afraid of werewolves. When they arrive at the airport, they get a newspaper and find out Princess Eliana is missing. Everyone is talking about it. The twins take a cab to HIS, Housing for International Students, and Jessica screams at the cabbie that he’s driving on the wrong side of the road. *facepalm*
At HIS, the twins meet their roommates: Lina Smith, a poor but sweet girl who works at a soup kitchen, and Portia Albert, a Lila Fowler wannabe who fancies herself an actress. When Liz and Jessica go down to tea, they’re shocked to see Rene Glize from France. He’s working at the French embassy for the summer.
The twins go to the London Journal office the next morning to find that Henry Reeves, the editor, seems to have forgotten they were coming. A doctor named Cameron Neville has been murdered and Mr. Reeves doesn’t have time for the twins. He dumps them on Tony Frank, who writes the society page. Tony can see they’re not super excited to cover aristocratic tea parties and turns them over to Lucy Friday in Crime. The twins are all excited until Lucy assigns them to Sergeant Bumpo’s beat. Bumpo seems to be kind of a joke, and the first story the twins are assigned is Lady Wimpole’s missing Yorkshire terrier. They go to the Lady’s house and get the story, then over to Essex Street to the scene of the murder. They sneak past all the police officers and hide under a window outside. They look in and see the dead body. The reporters and officers are talking about the murder and they say the man’s throat has been ripped apart. There’s a very handsome man in the room who doesn’t seem to fit in and the twins wonder who he is.
The twins go back to the office, and Liz starts writing up the dog story while Jessica is sent back out on another of Bumpo’s cases. Liz gets asked out by a shy guy named Luke who writes poetry when he should be working on newspaper stories. Jessica gets asked out by Lord Robert Pembroke, the son of a woman who insists her mink coat was stolen. Robert happens to be the son of the very handsome man the twins saw at the murder scene. Lord Pembroke the Elder owns the Journal.
The twins’ dates go smashingly, and when Liz gets back to HIS, she finds a rose on her bed. It’s from Rene. He has also left her a note asking her to dinner the next night. Liz writes back to accept. She is still dating Todd, by the way. That night, all the kids at HIS decide to sneak out to some hip club called Mondo. It’s the happening place to be for all the young famous people. How this ragamuffin crew gets in I’ll never know. When Jessica points out Princess Eliana’s older sister, Lina goes pale and says she has to leave. Liz goes with her and they start walking home. Halfway there, they find a dead dog on the street with its throat ripped out. It’s Lady Wimpole’s Yorkie. Liz notices that the moon is almost full and gets totally freaked out.
When the twins get to the Journal office the next morning, they find Lucy Friday having an argument with Mr. Reeves because her story about the murdered doctor was butchered and moved to the back of the paper. She quits and storms out, so the twins are dumped back on Tony Frank and the society page. Tony has Liz write the update on Lady Wimpole’s dog, and then Luke asks her if she can take the afternoon off to hang out with him. Tony tells her to go, so Luke takes Liz to a wax museum, where she gets freaked out by a wax dummy of a werewolf. Luke gets a little creepy and starts going on about werewolves as if they’re real. Liz doesn’t mind at all and starts thinking she’s been terribly close-minded until this point to not believe in werewolves.
Liz and Luke go to dinner and she tells him all about the dog and the murdered doctor. Luke thinks it sounds like the work of a werewolf. Luke takes Liz home and kisses her goodnight, and then Liz goes inside to find Rene waiting for her. She apologizes for forgetting their date, but Rene is really upset and walks away. Liz is all indignant and acts like Rene is overreacting.
Liz and Jessica go through the newspaper archives and find a story from the previous month about a dead nurse. They think it reads like the snipped version of Lucy’s story about the doctor’s murder. Luke and the twins go to Tony Frank and tell him everything they know about Mr. Reeves suppressing the murder stories. They all go to Lucy’s house and talk to her. Lucy thinks Lord Pembroke Senior has something to do with it all. It just so happens that Lord Pembroke Junior has invited the twins to spend the weekend at Pembroke Manor. Liz invites Luke to come along. They agree it will be an excellent way to find out what the Pembrokes are up to.
In other news, Jessica and one of the other boarders at HIS find a really sparkly and expensive dress in Lina’s closet. Lina is supposed to be poor, so they worry she’s stolen the dress. Liz is fiddling with Lina’s glasses one day. She puts them on and realizes the lenses are just glass with no prescription. Then Liz is telling Jessica she thinks Robert Pembroke sounds like an arrogant jerk (I have no idea why she thinks this), and Lina says Robert’s not so bad. (“I mean, I’ve heard he’s not so bad.”) Meanwhile, all anyone can talk about is this missing princess thing. Hmm…
Portia the snobby roommate has given everyone at HIS tickets to see her play on opening night. Liz goes upstairs to get Lina, but Lina says she can’t be seen going to a fashionable West End theater on opening night of an important play. Liz is confused and Lina has to spell it out for her. Liz finally figures out Lina is really Princess Eliana. The princess wanted to get out and see her city and give something back to the world without the paparazzi watching her. Liz promises to keep her secret.
Everyone else goes to the play, and Portia performs beautifully. Her character is exactly like herself, and Liz realizes the snobby way Portia’s been acting has just been rehearsal for the play. Portia confirms this after the show and now everyone is friends with her.
Luke and the twins go off to Pembroke Manor. Liz takes an immediate dislike to Robert because she’s a judgmental bitch. When Luke introduces himself to Lord Pembroke Senior, the old man gets weird for a second and looks like he recognizes Luke. Later, Luke and Liz go exploring the grounds together and come across some wolfsbane growing near a stream. Liz gets scared and Luke gives her a pendant, saying it will protect her from werewolves. Then they make out. Later, the constable comes to the manor to tell Lord Pembroke that four of his sheep were found with their throats ripped out. Liz and Luke are more convinced than ever that they’re looking at the work of a werewolf. Liz has a nightmare that night about being chased by a werewolf. When she wakes up around dawn, she runs to Jessica’s room and finds her facedown on the bed, dead. Yeah, right.
“I almost forgot about Rene,” [Elizabeth] mused out loud. “We never really got to explore our feelings for each other in France.”
Liz, you have a boyfriend. You always have a boyfriend. If you want to explore your feelings for other guys, you need to stop having a boyfriend all the time.
Either way, [Rene] overreacted. It was a simple mistake, and it’s not like he’s my boyfriend. He doesn’t have any claim on me.
Oh, shut up, Liz.
The Cover: That must be Liz in the blue coat, since she’s the one who spends the whole book being afraid of everything. I guess they’re wearing trenchcoats because that’s what you wear when you’re solving mysteries in London. That wolfman is so unscary. Liz is a wuss.