When Love Dies finished on a cliffhanger almost big enough to rival the one at the end of Dear Sister. Elizabeth has been kidnapped by Creepy Carl, an orderly at Fowler Memorial Hospital. That’ll teach her not to volunteer as a candy striper or be nice to weirdos.
Creepy Carl will go down in history as the first of the many creepers, psychopaths and werewolves that the twins encounter over the various Sweet Valley series. He’s one of the most boring, as well, given that there’s nothing very dramatic about Elizabeth sitting on a couch reading books about farm animals. Really, it has to be one of the most innocuous kidnappings in fiction history. He’s desperately in love with Liz (of course), but at no point is there any suggestion that he might try to do anything untoward to her. She’s faced much more rapey behaviour at the hands of Bruce Patman. Instead, he buys her books and cardigans and lovingly feeds her cold fast food. What a charmer.
Meanwhile, Jess is off at the home of Sweet Valley newcomers Regina and Nicholas Morrow. The Morrows are filthy rich, so of course our resident gold-digger Jessica falls in love with Nicholas before she’s so much as laid eyes on him. Luckily, he turns out to be handsome as well as loaded. He’s also way too serious and responsible for Jessica, but it’s hard to see clearly when you have dollar signs in your eyes. Jess is so busy throwing herself at Nicholas that she doesn’t notice how late Liz is to the party, instead lying to Todd when he questions her about Liz’s whereabouts. Eventually, she can drag herself away from Nicholas’s conversation about computers for long enough to realise that hey, maybe something bad might have happened to perfectly punctual Liz, and she flees the party with Todd, clad in nothing but a bikini.
Insert montage of searching, worrying and Liz remaining kidnapped.
Before the kidnapping, Liz had planned to meet Max Dellon to tutor him in English, and he immediately becomes suspect number one, because he’s a guitarist (and thus a rebel who can’t be trusted) and also foolish enough to search her car when he finds it abandoned at the hospital, instead of calling the police like an upstanding non-guitarist would have done. This leads to Todd punching him without provocation at school the next day, because hitting people is pretty much all Todd’s good for. Despite that, he seems to be convinced that “fighting [is] not his style”. By this point in the books, Todd has punched Rick Andover, Bruce Patman (knocking him unconscious) and Max Dellon, and has also threatened to punch Bruce on another occasion. He’s basically the poster boy for anger management issues. I hate to think what he’d be like if fighting were his style.
Anyway, in the end, Jess, Todd and Max team up and manage to catch Creepy Carl purely by accident and the miraculous power of mistaken identity. Elizabeth is found, Creepy Carl is arrested, and the Wakefield twins throw a party to celebrate Liz’s safe return. At which Nicholas Morrow catches sight of Elizabeth and falls immediately head-over-heels in love. Jess is not going to be happy.
For a book about a kidnapping, this isn’t one of the most exciting Sweet Valley High books. The parts of the book that centre around Liz are about as dull as her time spent locked in Carl’s house must have been. The most enjoyable bit is Jess and Todd teaming up. I always like the books where this happens.
Moral of the Story? Don’t be nice to creepy men.