Sweet Valley Twins #36: Mary is Missing
Classmate with a Problem: Mary, missing (didn’t see that coming, did you?)
Mary Wallace hasn’t been at school the last couple of days. That doesn’t worry Jessica. What worries Jessica is that Mary also didn’t go to Lila’s after-school ice cream party and she missed a Unicorn meeting where she was supposed to give an important treasury report. Jessica calls Mary’s house, but Mary’s mom is weird and abrupt and tells her Mary isn’t home. Jessica tries to get Liz to freak out, too, but Liz tells her Mary’s probably just sick or something. But then dumb brother Steven tells Liz a girl called for one of the twins (he can’t remember which one) a couple of days ago. He can’t remember the message except that it had something to do with money and getting away. The twins know Mary and her mom have been arguing and they start to worry she’s run away.
Jessica goes to Mary’s house after school the next day and tells Mary’s mom she needs to get a library book from Mary’s room. She snoops around for the Unicorn money (Lila and Ellen told her to find it) but it’s not there. Mary’s room is really messy, and most confusing is her teddy bear still on the bed. Mary sleeps with the bear every night, so it would be weird if she ran away and didn’t take it with her. The twins go to the mall and decide to see a movie. They grab a newspaper that’s sitting on a bench and start to look for movie times, but there are words and letters clipped out. Liz takes the paper, thinking she might hone her mystery-solving skills later by trying to figure out which words are missing.
Jessica calls Mary’s house again and Mrs. Wallace is rude and tells her not to call again. Then Liz finds out the missing words from the newspaper can be arranged into a sentence that reads “YOUR DAUGHTER IS SAFE WILL BE IN TOUCH SOON DON’T CALL POLICE.” The twins start to panic. Then Amy comes over and the twins tell her everything. Amy suggests it was probably Annie DeSalvo who kidnapped Mary. I mean, she’d done it before, so it makes sense. Liz calls Officer Carey, who helped the twins with the Mrs. Harrington debacle a while back. Officer Carey is kind of a doofus. He calls Mary’s mom, who tells him Mary is on a trip with friends and will be back soon, and Officer Carey takes her word for it. Amy and the twins don’t know what to do with that so they agree to drop it for now and go swimming.
Jessica decides to tell Lila and Ellen her suspicions. All they care about is the missing Unicorn money and they’re convinced Jessica is hiding something from them. I don’t know why they think that, but Jessica says she can prove Mary was kidnapped and suggests they stake out Mary’s house. From the vacant lot next door, they hear Mrs. Wallace take a phone call. She says she’s on her way with “all small stuff” that’s “not marked.” Then she walks out the front door with a suitcase, a bundle of clothes, and Mary’s teddy bear.
Liz and Amy go to the library and see a woman tearing an article out of a newspaper. After she leaves, the girls look up the issue on microfilm. It’s a Los Angeles paper from a few weeks ago, and the article the woman tore out was about an unsolved kidnapping. At school the next day, Mrs. Arnette tells everyone that Mary was so excited about their research project on Mexico that her mother decided Mary should take a trip there. Sounds…unrealistic. After school that day, Amy and Liz see the woman from the library at the grocery store. When she leaves, they get on their bikes and follow her to a crappy old house. They decide to come back after dinner and stake the place out.
Jessica tags along, and she insists Lila and Ellen come, too. They want to wait until Annie DeSalvo leaves and then sneak into the house to find Mary, but Annie seems to be staying put. So they go back the next night. Jessica and Lila are running late, and Liz, Amy, and Ellen stand around arguing for a while. Annie comes out of the house and drives away, and the girls argue over who’s going to sneak in and who’s going to stand watch outside. After Amy calls Ellen a chicken a few times, Ellen decides to sneak in through the basement window to prove Amy wrong. Amy feels kind of bad for goading her, so she follows her in, leaving Liz to wait for Lila and Jessica.
Once inside, Amy can’t find Ellen in the basement. She creeps upstairs and into the living room, and just then Annie comes back. Amy hides behind the sofa, then sneaks up the stairs while Annie is doing dishes. Ellen is in one of the bedrooms. There was a chair across the door, and Ellen tripped over it and hit her head when she entered the room. Amy hears footsteps on the stairs and tries to get Ellen to hide in the closet with her, but Ellen is moving too slowly and Annie opens the door to find her standing there. Annie knocks Ellen over, they crash into a table, and the light goes out.
Lila and Jessica have finally arrived, and the girls outside hear Ellen’s scream. They climb in through the basement window, Lila complaining about cobwebs the whole time, and up the stairs into the pitch black living room. Apparently, Ellen knocking a lamp over upstairs made all the lights in the house go out because that’s how electricity works. They make their way upstairs and into the bedroom, where Amy is sitting on top of the unconscious kidnapper. Amy knocked her out with a chair leg and now Ellen is Amy’s new biggest fan. Ellen turns the light back on and they all finally notice there’s a girl tied to a chair in the corner. It’s not Mary. When Liz takes the gag out of the girl’s mouth, she tells them her name is Becky Kern from Los Angeles, and the kidnapper is Rita Partman. Lila calls the police. Reporters show up and take pictures of Amy and Liz because they’re the ones who solved the mystery, and Lila is pissed that nobody is taking her picture.
So, it turns out Mary really was in Mexico. She went with her former foster parents. The business with the ransom and the teddy bear was just Mrs. Wallace taking a bunch of stuff to give away at a church bazaar, and she got Max the teddy bear all spiffed up at a cleaners. And the message Mary left with Steven was her trying to tell him how much was in the Unicorn treasury. Why the fuck Mrs. Wallace wouldn’t just tell Jessica where Mary was this whole time instead of being a bitch is still a mystery.
Setup for the next book: The Unicorns think the school newspaper is discriminating against them because Liz never prints anything about their parties and stuff.
“I know it seems impossible,” Ellen said, throwing down her paper, “but there isn’t a word about your ice cream party in this whole newspaper. I’ve read every page twice, just to make sure.” She frowned across the table at Jessica. “Why didn’t Elizabeth put something in the paper about Lila’s party, Jessica?”
The Unicorns think everything they do is newsworthy. It’s not like Lila has a party every week, you guys. This is important news.
The Cover: That’s a really bad angle for both twins’ faces.