Friday, March 21, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - The Wrong Number


Book #5 in the Fear Street Series
Published March of 1990
Cover Art by Gabriel ?

So here we are back on Fear Street with the fifth book in the series (at the time I found this I had not seen the three books that followed The New Girl) so chronologically this was the next one I read. This was the original first edition cover and I have to say its very nice. In the background again is the titular Gothic Fear Street and in the foreground our two main heroines of the book, blonde Deena Martinson and auburn Jade Smith. Both girls do indeed look scared and have a phone up to their ears. I don't think this scene is actually in the book because it looks like it's happening during a slumber party. I think the cover is meant to draw in male readers because well Jade is sporting a nice little slip and some major leg. I would have to say it is one of my favorite covers. My second favorite is this very simple yet ominous (and story accurate scene) German cover:

Not a lot of detail but it still gets the point across that the story you are about to read has elements of horror and suspense which is all you really need. I couldn't find a lot of versions of cover art for this book but I do have to admit that my third favorite is this Portuguese cover:

I like it because it is bright and eye-catching and well...they really sexed up Deena to sell this book didn't they compared to the first one we saw? If you are wondering yes there is a man with a chainsaw in this book and the guy on the cover is also in the story...his name is Chuck but more on him in a minute. I have one more cover mention and that goes to the Spanish edition because well it just looks so pretty:

Deena and Jade just look like models don't they?

Taglines: "It began as a prank...and ended in murder" on the front cover. I think it is a good one and they have this printed in all caps so it can grab your attention! On the back is a quote which I can't remember fully if it is indeed from the book because it reminds me more of Princess Leia's famous quote from Star Wars at the end but:

"Please come're my only hope!"

As with The New Girl, there is a prologue at the beginning of the book and at first glance, it isn't as much a spoiler to the action that will happen but having read it a couple of times it is a spoiler for me but not for any of you new readers. After the prologue and in to the the story proper we get...

The First Line: "The blob of green gel oozed like something from the bottom of a decaying swamp."

Wait did we switch genres? Are we in some weird sci-fi horror? Nope we are just joining Jade and Deena on a girls' night in doing some hair care with some stuff that is the staple of women being women. This is the Saturday night before school starts back up and both girls are B-O-R-E-D until Jade notices Deena's new hi-tech phone of the early 1990s and decides it would be fun to prank call some boys from Shadyside High and by prank I mean make sexy calls like ones men would dial 1-800 numbers for. Shy Deena isn't up for it until she makes a call to her crush Rob Morrell and soon discovers that not talking face-to-face with a cute guy is so much easier and she embraces her sex goddess side. 

Deena tells Rob she looks like Kim Basinger so here you go...

 After that fun opening chapter, we get to see that Deena and her family are going to pick up her half-brother Chuck (from her father's first marriage) at the airport. Chuck is a city kid expelled from his previous high school and a second-time senior moving to smaller Shadyside for a new start. To Deena, Chuck is good-looking except for the scowl/sneer on his face (which she calls a "snowl") but in the next minute he can have a goofy smile on his face. On the way home, The Martinson clan gets involved in a pile-up and Brother Chuck risks his own life to save a puppy from a burning, about to exploded vehicle for a little boy. Chuck is definitely an enigma going from hot to cold but as a person who lived in a big city and now lives in a small town I can understand that people handle change in different ways so this must be his. Of course, that also involves getting into fights at school with knives...oh Chuck what are we going to do with you?

I hear the name Chuck and this is what I see except now with a dog...

 So when Jade comes over a few nights later and the girls go back to doing their little sexy calls, Chuck stumbles upon them and says he will tell their parents everything unless they let Chuck join in on the fun. Chuck's idea of fun turns out to be making fake bomb threats to the local bowling alley and menacing the guys at school who have picked fights with him as "The Phantom of Fear Street"...really Chuck? So after it becomes clear that Jade and Chuck are getting closer Deena hopes that she will be a good influence on her brother and surely love redeems as the three teens agree to no longer make prank calls until a bat scares the girls so bad that they begin mentioning about how spooky Fear Street is all to Chuck's disbelief. To show Deena and Jade that there is nothing terrifying about an old creepy street he dials the first number in the phone book with a Fear Street address and calls it. I think fate steps in to prove him wrong as the number Chuck dials happens to be answered by a woman screaming for her life that someone is trying to kill her and then a gruff-voiced man tells them they have dialed...the wrong number. 

So of course comes the this a prank? Deena, Jade and Chuck go to the address of the Farbersons and discover that a woman has been stabbed and a masked man is in the house! The three teenagers get away but the next night the cops are at the Martinson house questioning Chuck and Deena about the murder of Mrs. Farberson whom her husband says was attacked by the two of them and another girl(Jade) as they robbed the house. The situation gets even stickier when Chuck's fingerprints turn up on the knife used to murder Mrs. Farberson (he picked it up to use in self-defense ignoring what we all know what NOT to do at a crime scene) so now he is being charged for murder and is thrown in jail. Both Jade and Deena know he is innocent so now the two girls must find a way to clear his name and they know the only thing they can do is to go back to Fear Street and find the real murderer...

Now by telling you the basics it is almost pretty easy to tell how this story is going to play out...and the fact that there was a Wrong Number 2 doesn't help much on the surprise. Besides that, I really enjoyed reading The Wrong Number because it is a good mystery story more than an actual tale of horror.

Jumpsuits - how Jade solves murders. It's her fashion of choice throughout the book...

Body Count: Poor Mrs. Edna Farberson :(

Cameo Time!: Both Lisa Blume and Cory Brooks from The New Girl show up. Cory appears in a newspaper article being one of the happy few ushered out of the bowling alley by Chuck's first prank call, ruining his perfect game as quoted in the book. Lisa shows up to talk to Deena about writing an article for the school newspaper concerning Chuck's arrest wanting the hot scoop.


Chuck sports a shirt featuring the band R.E.M. - a turquoise one at that! It seems our tough guy also saves puppies and enjoys some good alternative, college rock.

The night of the prank call that leads to all the big trouble, out three heroes get together for a little barbeque. They have burgers, potato salad and peach ice cream all to the tunes playing on Deena's tape player. The band name dropped by Stine is Dire Straits. So Deena likes Dire Straits? Kinda cool. This would be the album Brothers In Arms released back in 1985, a classic album.

It is clear that Chuck and Jade become very close in this book and I have the perfect song for them as a couple because you see my favorite band released an album around this time and well if you look past the lyrics I think this song released as the first single is a nice choice:

NEXT TIME: Not exactly the right time of year for a Halloween Party but on Fear's always time for terror!

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