Author: Francine Pascal, Kate William
Series: Sweet Valley High #13
Blurb: A living nightmare . . .
Elizabeth Wakefield never imagined that her evening of volunteer work at Sweet Valley’s hospital would turn into the most horrifying night of her life. But when a strong hand clamps a chloroformed rag over her mouth and she is pulled from her car, Elizabeth’s hellish ordeal begins.
When she regains consciousness, Elizabeth finds herself tied to a chair in an isolated shack. She has been kidnapped by Carl, a lonely and disturbed orderly from the hospital. Elizabeth doesn’t know what Carl wants from her, but it’s clear he’s on the brink of insanity. Somehow Elizabeth must escape before it’s too late!
Commentary: This book picks up right where book #12 left off. Elizabeth is late getting home from her job as a candy striper at the hospital (read my last Nostalgic post for details) and Jessica is getting ready for a party. She is particularly interested in meeting a new boy, Nicholas Morrow, who just moved into town and is rumored to be gorgeous and rich. Jessica does have a type, doesn’t she. As the night gets later, Jessica gets more impatient and decides to call a friend to pick her up instead of waiting for Elizabeth to get home to take her.
At the Morrows’ mansion, Jessica meets Regina, Nicholas’s sister, who she first thinks is snubbing her until she finds out that Regina is deaf. She also finally meets Nicholas, who is just as perfect as she had heard, and is instantly drawn to him. Nicholas may be filthy rich, but he sure is different from Bruce Patman. For one thing, Nicholas is really sweet, really smart, and very protective of his baby sister. It’s actually really cute. Jessica is smitten and only feels slightly guilty for leaving Elizabeth behind. Just wait, Jess. It gets worse.
Speaking of Elizabeth, let’s find out what happened to her, shall we? She wakes up and has a hard time remembering what happened, only remembering walking out to her car and then nothing. She also realizes that she is blindfolded with her arms tied behind her back. Memories start to come back of a man who had approached her in the parking, drugged her and dragged her to a van. She feels movement and guesses that she is in the van now. But where is this man taking her? I’ll be honest, this sounds pretty scary. I both loved and hated this book as a kid because it was scary.
The first person to notice that Elizabeth is missing is not anyone in her family. It’s Max Dillon, guitarist for the local rock band, who Elizabeth was supposed to tutor after she left the hospital. He knows that it is not like Elizabeth to be late, especially not two hours late. When no one answers the phone at the Wakefield house, Max decides something must be wrong and heads out to look for her.
Back at the party, things are going swimmingly with Jessica and Nicholas until Todd, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, interrupts them asking where Elizabeth could be. He’s worried that she hasn’t shown up yet. Since Jessica sees Lila eyeing Nicholas, she doesn’t want to leave his side and gives Todd a story about Elizabeth getting a last minute babysitting job. Yep, that’s right. Jessica doesn’t care that Elizabeth isn’t where she said she would be. She’s not worried in the slightest, not when there’s a cute, rich boy to catch. Why did anyone like her character, again?
Back to Elizabeth. She is still tied up, gagged and blindfolded, but no longer in a vehicle. There is a bit of a cool breeze, which helps clear her head from whatever she was drugged with, and she realizes that she is tied to a chair. Her hair is still braided and she is still in her uniform from the hospital. She tries to hear anything that could help her identify where she is or what’s going on, but can’t hear anything specific until she hears a car pull up outside, a door closing, and footsteps. Whoever the person is, they walk right up to her. She is afraid that this person is going to hurt her, but instead he unbraids her hair and tells her that he won’t hurt her. He also calls her by name and gently removes the blindfold. It’s Carl, the orderly from the hospital who had been acting so weird. As soon as he removes the gag, she screams.
Back at the party, Todd is still worried about Elizabeth’s whereabouts. Because he’s actually a decent person. He tries to call Elizabeth at her supposed babysitting gig and guess what! She’s not there. Todd is furious and goes up to Jessica and pushes her into the pool. Not gonna lie – I may have cheered out loud at this point. Jessica didn’t realize it was so late and for the first time is actually concerned. She calls home and finds that Liz isn’t there either. Jessica works herself up into a proper state, but she is actually worried about her sister this time. See, when Jessica actually tries to care about someone else, she actually feels very strongly. It just takes something extreme for her to get there.
Back with Liz, Carl holds her mouth shut so she can’t scream anymore. He is genuinely confused why she screamed and why she’s upset. She takes the chance to see where she is – a small, dingy house which Carl informs her is his house. And her house now. He wants to keep her there forever. Because he loves her. After this revelation, Liz tells him that she has to go to the bathroom in order to try and make him untie her. He does, but only partly, before picking her up, carrying her to the bathroom, untying the rest of her bonds, and then closing the door quickly before she can escape. After stretching a bit and staying in the bathroom as much as she could, she comes out. Carl ties her back up again, but she asks him if she can sit on the sofa instead of the chair.
She asks him why he says that he loves her and his answer is actually really sad. He says that he loves her because she was kind to him once. She was the only one in the hospital who ever treated him nicely. Liz feels sorry for him before remembering that he kidnapped her and she doesn’t really know his motives. She tries to play on his sympathy though, claiming that the ropes are hurting her and promising not to leave. As soon as he does, she bolts for the door, only to find it leading to a porch that was boarded shut. Also, Carl is pretty strong and now he’s really mad.
Meanwhile, Jessica has returned home. Her parents have been trying to find someone at the hospital who knows anything about Liz’s whereabouts, but to no avail. Next they call Max Dellon’s house, but Max’s parents haven’t seen her and Max isn’t there. The Wakefields call the police. Max has gone to the hospital and sees Liz’s car still there. At first he’s mad that she didn’t tell him she was working late, but then realizes that her car door was left open and her purse and sweater were on the floor. Unfortunately some police officers show up, one of whom Max had mouthed off to at a convenience store, and they arrest him for suspicious behavior.
Liz wakes up, tied back up to the wooden chair. She had been certain that Carl was going to hurt her after her escape attempt, but instead he started crying. Liz has no idea what to do, so she tries to calm him down by promising that she is not going to leave. It works. Carl calms down and goes to bed in the other room after tying her back up. All Liz can do now is hope for a rescue. The next morning, Carl gets up and decides to cook her breakfast. He won’t untie Liz so she can eat, instead deciding to feed her the same way she had helped people eat at the hospital. He also drops the bombshell that he is going in to work. This is a shock to Liz, who was hoping that his absence at work would raise suspicions.
Max is taken to the police station and tries to explain his story: he was only trying to find a friend who was missing. Eventually they let him go, since they don’t really have proof that he did anything wrong. The Wakefields are beside themselves, not knowing what to do. Todd thinks Max had something to do with Liz’s disappearance, but Steve doesn’t believe that. Max is a decent guy and would never hurt Liz. The police are ready to say that maybe Liz ran away, but the Wakefields don’t believe that either. Jessica is on a major guilt trip for not having checked in with her sister sooner, or waited for her before going to the party, not that either of these things would have stopped Liz from disappearing. Jessica doesn’t know that though. She just feels awful.
Liz’s day at Carl’s house is dark and scary. Since most of it is boarded up, there is barely any light. She is hurting from being tied up and is lonely. Again she feels a stab of sympathy for Carl, who has lived alone in the place probably for years. She worries about her family and Todd, wondering what they must be thinking. I found it funny that she thinks that Jessica probably missed the Morrows’ party because she waited for Liz. Oh honey. Jessica was not about to miss that party, a fact that Jessica feels pretty guilty about. Other neighbors, as well as classmates from school, are all joining in the search. Another person who shows up is Nicholas Morrow. He convinces Jessica to go for a walk with him and she completely breaks down, confessing that she cared more about trying to impress him than she did about her sister’s whereabouts the night of the party. Nicholas is a very nice guy and comforts her, saying it wasn’t her fault and there was nothing she could have done to prevent it. Which is true. It’s not Jessica’s fault.
Liz hears a car pull up and is hopeful for a moment before realizing that it’s just Carl returning home. At least he brought dinner! Liz asks how his day was and Carl mentions that there were lots of cops at the hospital asking questions about Liz. Of course, he told them he has no idea what happened to her. He also tells Liz that the police thing she’s a runaway. Liz is horrified by this idea. Carl continues, describing her like a beautiful bird that he has to keep in a cage, but he also has a plan to take her away somewhere, up in the mountains where he won’t have to keep her tied up because she would never be able to find her way back. He plans on them leaving tomorrow night.
Jessica and Todd end up back at school the next day, urged by their respective parents to try and keep things normal. Todd is furious about the cops accusing Liz of being a runaway. Jessica tells him that their parents have hired a private investigator. Most of the school is convinced that Max had something to do with it. Max is in a lot of trouble at home. His parents don’t think he had anything to do with Liz’s disappearance, but the fact he left home without their permission and got arrested was too much. When he gets to English class, the class Liz was supposed to be tutoring him in, Mr. Collins takes him aside to see how he’s doing, apparently the only one in school who doesn’t think Max is a kidnapper. Mr. Collins is also prepared to excuse Max from the test, but Max wants to take it. And surprise, he actually feels somewhat confident in his answers!
After class, Todd corners Max and demands answers, anything, to help with finding Liz. Jessica breaks up the fight and makes the valid point that Max wouldn’t have done anything bad to the person who was willing to help him with his school troubles. Todd agrees and the three of them decide to head back over to the hospital and start looking for clues. They split up to start asking questions. Max sees an orderly pushing a cart the same time that Jessica comes around the corner. The orderly, who is Carl, sees Jessica and freaks out, thinking that it’s Elizabeth. Max tackles him and Jessica talks to him as though she is Elizabeth in order to calm him until the police get there.
Carl confesses and they all ride down to Carl’s house to get Liz. Liz hears the police sirens followed by a pounding on the door. The police burst into the room, followed by Jessica. Liz is rescued! Yay! The first thing she does when she gets home – she wants a bubble bath, real food, and then to plan a big party to celebrate her return. Max arrives with the rest of his band, released from his grounding since he got a good grade on his English exam. Also arriving: Nicholas Morrow. Also awkward: Elizabeth seems to be much more Nicholas’s type than Jessica was. Hmmm.
So that’s Kidnapped! To be honest, this was one of my favorite SVH books when I was younger and probably my first foray into anything related to suspense that wasn’t of the supernatural variety. Other than wrapping up way too quickly, it actually holds up pretty well, which surprised me.
Categories: nostalgic reads