Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cross-Dressing Wedding Crashers: Trixie Belden #17- The Mystery of the Uninvited Guest




In the past, if I were pressed to choose a favorite Trixie book, it probably would have been this one. Re-reading it solidified that decision in my mind. I love this book. Definitely my favorite. I'm a little surprised that it doesn't score higher on a lot of people's lists. Some say the tone of the book is off, but I think the writing style of this one is great. It's more introspective, contains better dialogue, and the humor is actually funny. Some of Trixie's faults are pointed out and dealt with in this book, instead of being glossed over as they often are. And everybody gets to play a role in this one. Di, Dan, Bobby, Regan, Mr. Maypenny, Mrs. Vanderpool- everyone is invited to this party. Oh, and I like the cover too, except for Jim's fuchsia red hair. Trixie looks really pretty in her bridesmaid dress.

I don't mean to sound lazy, but I'm not going to try to recap the whole thing. It's just too involved. This book picks up where the last one left off. It's still summer in Sleepyside, and everyone is getting ready for Hans and Julianna's wedding. They're to be married in the Manor House garden, and all the Bob-Whites will play a part in the ceremony. It should be a happy time, but Trixie is upset by the arrival of her cousin from Idaho, Hallie Belden. Hallie is tall and slender and even prettier than Diana, if such a thing is possible. Trixie and Hallie have never gotten along very well in the past, and this visit doesn't start off very well either. Trix sees someone at the window of the Belden's home, looking down the lane with binoculars. She accuses Hallie of spying on her, but it's actually Bobby who is the culprit. He tells them some jibberish about seeing a wheelchair and someone stealing mail. Bobby actually sounds more grown-up and articulate than usual in this book, but still, no one can make sense of what he is talking about.

The wheelchair becomes very important throughout this story. Trixie grudgingly lets Hallie help her investigate. They find that the chair was supposed to be delivered to the Glen Road Inn, but was lost along Glen Road instead. It eventually ends up at the Inn to be used by elderly cripple Miss Ryks. Miss Ryks is staying there along with her nephew, the scrawny Dick Ryks. Miss Ryks manages to finangle an invitation to the wedding, even though neither Hans nor Juliana is really sure who she is or how she knows their families.

The wheelchair isn't the only thing that goes missing. The Lynch mansion is robbed while the Lynches are having dinner at their country club. Diana never receives an invitation to the wedding, even though Honey is sure one was sent to her. Trixie thinks that whoever Bobby saw stealing mail must have taken it.

Worse yet, Juliana's diamond tulip engagement ring goes missing. (It has to be a tulip, because they're from Holland, see?) Suspicion falls on Dan when the ring is found in his handkerchief, shoved into a drawer in Uncle Regan's desk. Before they can confront him about it, Dan disappears. Some members of his old gang have been seen hanging around Sleepyside. The adults think maybe Dan has gone back to his old ways, but the Bob-Whites are worried that something sinister has happened to him.

Food begins disappearing from the Belden house. Moms thinks she is losing her mind. Scooters, bicycles, and wagons disappear all along Glen Road. Bobby is acting strange, too; he's quiet and withdrawn and not nosing his way into everyone's business like he usually is. Something is bothering him, but Trixie is too busy with wedding preparations and the search for Dan to find out what it is.

Things start to make sense when a couple of the gang members are apprehended by the Bob-Whites and the police, trying to sell the stolen wheels and the stuff from the Lynch robbery at a big yard sale. It's a pretty funny scene, actually, with the Bob-Whites managing to get in everyone's way and keep anyone from buying the stolen goods. It turns out the gang members had been hiding in the woods and had convinced Bobby to bring food to them by telling him he could be in their "club." When Bobby got suspicious, they told him they would hurt Reddy with their knives. That is big-time creepy, especially for a Trixie Belden book! Poor kid!

Even with the gang members captured, there is still no sign of Dan. Trixie and the Bob-Whites still can't figure out who Miss Ryks is or how she and her nephew ties into all the robberies. They have been to the inn to spy on both the Ryks several times, but they never seem to be there at the same time. Usually the only person they see is Dick. Finally, they manage to catch Dick dressing up as his "Aunt Kate." They're the same person! Trixie tells the police, but they are skeptical. They agree to send a couple of officers to the wedding to help guard the gifts, and they will keep an eye on the inn, but that's all they can do.

The big showdown happens at the wedding. Hallie goes missing before the ceremony. Miss Ryks shows up, and Trixie manages to show her as a fraud once and for all. He/She/It is actually the person Dan's old gang was reporting to. Dan and Hallie are found tied up back at the Inn, in an upstairs room. And somehow, the wedding goes off more or less without a hitch, and Hans and Juliana never suspect a thing. That may be the biggest miracle Trixie has ever pulled off.

Last lines: "No, Hallie, that's not quite right." Trixie did her best imitation of a drawl and linked arms with her new friend. "You're an OK kid yourself!"
"Oh, jeeps," Hallie chuckled.
"That's "gleeps!" the Bob-Whites chorused.

Thank you for your patience- this was supposed to be up last week, but I got sick. Next book will be...well, I'm not sure yet. Guess you will have to wait and be surprised. Thanks for reading!

8 comments:

  1. You know, I discovered that there are three Trixies on my bookshelf that I have bought at random times and not read. Ever. I am astounded and excited because no matter how much you love a book, you can only read it ONCE for the first time. After that, you know the plot and all, and that amkes pure-mystery stories very boring. But if they've got a lot of great interaction, then it keeps you at them, like Trixie.

    Now to be honest, I havent' read most of this post except for the first paragraph, because this is one fo the books I have but haven't read. So I don't want to spoil all. All I can say is that I have the exact same cover and Jim's hair is disgusting. I also enver really looked at the girl so i had no idea it was Trix. Now I look closer, it IS. I think she is WAYY too pretty and grown up there. I half expect her to rip the hem by stepping on it or something in typical Trixie fashion. So after I read this book (which will be a while as I am into other series at the moment - rereading all my Anne of Green Gables books) I will be back to discuss it =)

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  2. Yes yes! Read it and tell me what you think! Opinions seem to vary widly on this one. Some of us love it; others hate it. Not sure why all the variance.

    That is awesome that you found some unread books! Which ones are they? There are still a few I haven't read, but they are the later ones from the very end of the series, which aren't really that good. I just haven't been able to scrape together the money for them (I've seen them go as high as $80 on Ebay!).

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  4. Gah I'd written a superlong comment for your post, now I've read the book, and it DISAPPEARED! Well, here goes again (btw it says at the bottom my comment was published, but I don't see it, so excuse me if it actually is, and I post twice) :
    I LOVED THIS BOOK! The three books I had to read without ever having done it before, were #15 Mississippi, this one and Old Telegraph Road #20. Mississippi was awful. It was scary without being exciting, the characters were badly done (ESPECIALLY HONEY which is my pet peeve about the book. I mean, she practically joined hands and went skipping off into the sunset with the Aguileras! The rest of the BWs were so whingy too!) and it was all so unsatisfying and didn't draw you in. This one, on the other hand, well as soon as I started it, I could practically SMELL it would be a good one. I don't know what makes the criteria for being good or bad, but somehow you instinctively KNOW.
    Anyways, what did I love about it? Oh wow, everything? It was such a great mix. Especially the new insight on Trixie's character. I believe it was really well done, because with Honey and Di and now Hallie, a cousin she initially can't stand, Trix always has these pretty or drop-dead gorgeous people around her. All she has going for her is her charm and fun nature, which seems to be enough for Jim =D!, but it's so natural that she should feel a bit deflated. She is jealous in the book, but that's so human. I think that side of her has always been there, and hinted at in other books, but never given the place it is in this book. This one really is a lot more introspective, as you say, into what she's feeling.
    Secondly, Hallie is a great character! The kind of person who'd love to hate, because she's so perfect, but you end up lovign her. I love the gradual warmth between her and Trix, and it shows how kind a person Trix is, she's so considerate of Hallie in the end. Also, Hallie's credited with some of the most moving lines in the whole series - "Do you sometimes feel like you're standing with a cold wind blowing? You shout into the wind, but your words get pushed back down your throat. you know you'll keep swallowing your own words till you can answer the question, 'Who am I?' But there's no one to tell you the answer." Trix's reply is pretty deep too. I never remember having such a difficult time in teenage years? I mean, at least I knew who I was!? The trouble was getting to accept that person ;D
    ANYWAYS, Hallie = great person. So different from Trixie, but so bold and stubborn and everything at the same time, so much LIKE Trix!
    The characters were good, they were on spot, and the mystery was excellent! All these things seem to disappear, from people to valuables to the entire contents of Di's home! And it all seemed convoluted and didn't make sense, until the end when it was all explained and I was like WOW! so THAT'S what happened!
    I also completely agree with you about Bobby. He did seem to be a lot more grown up in this book, and feeding the gang thing is WAYY traumatic. I was really scared for him!
    Lastly, the wedding made it brilliant. I love the fact that this book joins directly onto the previous one, although it probably wasn't written by the same person. But come on, who doesn't love weddings? They would be so fun to plan (I thnk...?) And the ending was wayy tense because they didn't want to ruin the occassion, but they also didn't want the evil Miss. Ryks to steal all the stuff! I really wanted Trix to just whip off his/her wig to prove it to Seargent Mollison, but that would have ruined the wedding. So I really appreciate the fine balance that they struck and saved everything! I mean, Juliana and Hans can only get married once in their life so it had to be perfect!
    Also, the funniest quote in the whole book - "Will you look at that!" Hallie burst out. "Now Miss Ryks is walking around with her nephew's head on!" HAHA

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  5. Hi

    I just saw your blog for the first time---I have been a Trixie fan since 6th grade, when I stumbled across a forgotten volume in the school library (#3 The Gatehouse Mystery, my intro to Trixie!!) Eventually I owned the entire series (up to book 34, I think). But I agree with you...this is one of the better books in the series. I like #14 also (Mystery of the Emeralds) partly because it takes place in Virginia (Born there). Anyway, thanks for the blog!! :-)

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  6. I loved this book! But so far up to this point, there isn't a Trixie book i don't like. Actually, i like reading the books, and then your reviews (it's a shame you didn't write more)

    I did figure out that Miss Ryks and her nephew were the same person, but for some reason, i didn't associate him with the comic. I didn't think Dan was involved, but frankly with the way Dan and Di are sometimey Bob-Whites, i wouldn't have been surprised if he wasn't written out of the series.

    I also like that Jim and Brian can be action heroes of the group. Growing up, i read the "new" Bobbsey Twins mysteries from the 80s, and the earlier Wanderer Bobbsey Twins mystery series from the 80s (these were way more interesting than the original series that went from 1904-1979), and always wanted the older twins to be more action oriented. But then again, they were 12 and the older Bob-Whites are 16/17.

    I like the character of Hallie-she actually reminds me of the character of Allie from a couple of the Three Investigators series in that she is spunky and also kind of an honourary part of the team.

    I'm going to start the next book in the series "The Phantom Grasshopper", so please do a review of that next. Hint, hint!

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  7. Hi Sean,

    Thank you for your comments. Despite the way it looks, I haven't totally abandoned this blog. Life threw me some unexpected curve balls and I just couldn't find the time or energy to recap (they take a surprising amount of time!). But I'm hoping to start up again soon. And perhaps #18 would be a good place to start. :)

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  8. I can understand about life throwing curve balls. I've basically given up on my new Bobbsey Twins project. But it's been 3 years-are you going to write another review? (I'm rereading my Trixie Belden books in honour of the fact that I decided to splurge and spend the exorbitant prices to acquire the last few books (No 37, 38 & 39) It's about $175 for the 3, but hey, I want to!

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