Monday, July 21, 2014

BSC Mystery #4: Kristy and the Missing Child

By Ann M. Martin, ghostwritten by Ellen Miles. Published May 1992.

Kristy is sitting for the Kuhns, Jake, Laurel, and Patsy. They’ve been mentioned before, but only because they’re on the Krushers. They haven’t needed a sitter, because Mrs. Kuhn just started working after her divorce. Mr. Kuhn now lives in Dallas, and would like shared custody. But Kristy says it’s quite an amicable divorce. Jake isn’t thrilled with his mom right now, because she won’t let him go to Europe for two weeks with his dad. His dad will also be missing his upcoming birthday. Patsy says she saw his car the other day. Jake says that’s impossible. He couldn’t have been there, and his car is unique; a T-Bird with a special green paint job. I assume all this is relevant later.

Kristy and David Michael are walking to a Krushers practice game. They pass a construction site, and Kristy (of all people!) gets sexist and talks about how boys love watching construction and trucks and shit, while she gets bored in thirty seconds. Whatever Kristy, I love watching that kind of stuff. Jake arrives without his sisters; they have a dentist appointment. The Krushers lose really badly, but they don’t really care. Jake tells Kristy his mom said it was ok for him to walk home alone. You’d think Kristy would have an issue with this, but Bart’s waiting to walk her home, so she doesn’t have a problem.

On the way home, it starts pouring, and they get into a puddle fight. Very flirty. Later, Mrs. Kuhn calls asking if Kristy has seen Jake. She hasn’t seen him since after practice, of course, so Mrs. Kuhn says she’ll try calling his friends. She calls back to tell Kristy she hasn’t found him. Kristy offers to call her own friends to find out if they’ve seen him. None of them have. Then Mrs. Kuhn calls a third time, to tell Kristy she thinks Mr. Kuhn came and just took him, to take him to Europe. I think it’s weird she’s calling to tell her thirteen-year-old baby-sitter this.

Kristy does what Kristy does, and calls an emergency meeting. Nothing really gets accomplished; they just discuss how none of them think Mr. Kuhn is guilty. Then the cops show up. That’s right, a BSC meeting raided by the cops! The Kishis finally found out about Claudia’s contraband candy and Nancy Drews! Not really. They just want to talk to Kristy, since she was the last one to see Jake. She tells them what she knows, and is sure to give them her opinion, as well.

Kristy’s mom comes to pick her and Shannon up, and also to go over to the Kuhns’, to see how Mrs. Kuhn is doing. Kristy gets kind of nervous, because she feels guilty about letting Jake go off on his own. She apologizes to Mrs. Kuhn right away, but she tells her to stop, that it’s not Kristy’s fault at all. Kristy tells her that the BSC is going to do what they can to help, but Mrs. Kuhn isn’t actually too impressed, giving Kristy the feeling she doesn’t think a bunch of middle school girls could do much to help. Well, I don’t blame her Kristy. She’s dealing with something really serious, offers of help from the Scooby Gang don’t really mean much.

For some reason, Mrs. Kuhn has Patsy and Laurel sleep over at Stacey’s house. Ok. Stacey makes it fun for them, having a popcorn picnic, where they get small bowls of popcorn and put all sorts of toppings on them. That does sound fun. Later, Patsy gets upset about not seeing her family, and again insists that she saw her dad’s car. After she gets the girls in bed, Stacey calls Mrs. Kuhn to give her that piece of information. Mrs. Kuhn thinks it’s unlikely that it was really Mr. Kuhn’s car, but she’ll still let the police know. The police, btw, have not been able to reach Mr. Kuhn.

The next day, Kristy of course feels like she has to do something. So she comes up with the idea to get together a search party using every kid she knows. She gets to make an announcement over the PA system at school, and the girls set up a sign-up table during lunch. They invite everyone, plus their brothers and sisters, to help. That afternoon, there’s a huge group of kids gathered, ready to search.

They split into groups, and Kristy’s includes Matt Braddock. After searching for a while, Matt remembers Jake showing him a shortcut he sometimes takes to school, and there’s a drainage pipe there. They rush to the spot, and find footprints outside the pipe. But the pipe is empty, and Kristy decides the footprints are too small to be Jake’s. They continue searching until darkness falls, but find nothing. Patsy and Laurel spend the night at Kristy’s house mansion. Mrs. Kuhn calls to let Kristy know the police think Mr. Kuhn may be in Mexico.

Kristy invites Bart over that night, to hang out and make her feel better. They talk about Jake, and Bart feels guilty, too. Kristy actually starts crying. They’re interrupted by Karen, letting them know there’s a story about Jake on the news. Then Mrs. Kuhn calls to tell Kristy (seriously, why is Kristy the person she keeps most up-to-date?) that the police found some letters from Mr. Kuhn to Jake, and they mention a woman friend of his. She may know where Mr. Kuhn is. But she calls back later to say that the police reached her, but she wasn’t any help.

This has all made Kristy think about her father, and wondering what would happen if her ever kidnapped her. So at breakfast, she starts asking her mom questions about him, like where he is now, and why doesn’t he write, etc. Her mom is totally open about it, and answers what she can. Then David Michael is the one to ask if their dad might kidnap him. Their mom doesn’t think so. Then he asks what if someone else tried to kidnap him, and it turns into a total stranger danger PSA.

The whole big group gets together that morning to search again. The Braddocks are with Kristy again, and Matt has some more ideas. They check a clearing in the woods, a clubhouse, and a store where they buy baseball cards. The last place Matt can think of is the construction site, because Jake likes to take spare bits of lumber home. Kristy doesn’t want to at first; the kids are tired and it’s in the opposite direction. But she finally agrees. So they get to the site, and they start calling Jake’s name. Kristy thinks she hears something, so they try again, and she and Bart both hear it. They follow it to a house being built, and Kristy goes in to look. She sees the opening to where the basement stairs will go, calls down, and Jake answers! Yay!

While Bart goes to get help, Kristy and the kids get the story from Jake. He did come by the site after practice, to look for used screws and nails. Then it started raining, and all the workmen were gone, so he thought he’d be ok going in the house. But it was dark, so he couldn’t see the hole. He hurt his leg falling. And during the next day, the workmen were there, but their machines were too loud for anyone to hear him calling.

Mrs. Kuhn shows up, overjoyed, and then the police. They get him out, and EMTs check him over. He has some bumps and bruises, but his leg’s not broken. Kristy tells everyone Matt’s the hero.

The eighth-graders have some silly awards night. The BSC plus Bart meet up outside the school. Perfect time to get everyone caught up. Jake is doing well, back playing softball. And Mr. Kuhn was indeed in Mexico, on business. Thank goodness for the rise of cell phones, amiright? No word on how pissed he was at being considered a suspect for his son’s kidnapping. But he is going to make it for Jake’s birthday party, so Jake’s happy.

At the ceremony, Kristy gets some sort of special award for finding Jake. She says she shares it with everyone who helped, especially Matt. Then she wipes away her tears, and it’s a totally cheesy ending.

o   Patsy is shocked, shocked, that Stacey doesn’t have The Little Mermaid. I am, too. This is from 1992, so she would have been about ten when it came out. She totally would have had it.

o   In a completely unrelated subplot, Mary Anne is about to fail home ec. She’s not good at sewing, and her biggest cooking problem seems to be not getting Jello to set. It’s ridiculous. She won’t be joining Claud in summer school, though. She ends up passing.

o   Even though Mary Anne sits for the Barretts in this book, there is no mention of the time when Mr. Barrett actually did take Buddy for a while. That just seems really weird to me. You’d think Dawn at least would bring it up.

o   But in a nice bit of continuity, they have Pete Black emcee the awards ceremony, since he’s class president.


  1. As I recall, Jake's awfully chipper for someone whose been trapped in a hole without food and water.

    1. He really is. He does cry a bit talking about his leg hurting, but when it comes to telling what happened, it's just more like "Here's my kickass story!"