Fall Into Darkness - Christopher Pike
1990, 213 pages
Characters, Dead or Presumed Dead
Ann Rice - supposedly pushed over a cliff to her death
Jerry Rice - Ann's brother who died from an apparent suicide a year ago
Jeez, between these two, it's like Dancing With Lestat in here.
Sharon McKay - on trial for Ann's murder
Chad Lear - his interests include reading and gardening (I love how, like, he has the same hobbies as my grandmother)
Paul Lear - Ann's beau, and Chad's half-brother
Johnny Richmond - Sharon's court-appointed attorney
The back cover tagline annoys me. "They said she murdered her best friend." It's, like, a fact. There's no mystery or suspense. It's not a pun or a play on words. It's not clever. It's just... true. And NOT exciting. (And, yes, I realize a lot of them are like that, but this one particularly bothers me because I feel like this book deserves better.)
And what about: "She fell forever... and never hit the ground."? I like imagining that one. Like, falling, falling, screaming, looking over shoulder to realize she's no closer to the ground, screaming, thrashing, continuing to fall... FOREVER. For-ev-er. For-ev-er. (Oh no, I can't find a proper reference or video... remember in The Sandlot when Squints is in the treehouse telling everyone the story about James Earl Jones's dog and it ends: "For-ev-er. For-ev-er."? Right after the part about the smores (You know, "You're killin' me, Smalls". Parentheses within parentheses! Ack! Somebody stop me!) Please know what I'm babbling about. Pleeeeease!!! I love how I'm failing mis at my new goal of a decreased word count.)
Aaaaand there's no Ann necklace in the story. Cover illustrator Brian Kotzky usually gets it right. So I don't know what that's all about, unless he was just making shit up, but whatevs. I'm so over picking on the cover and presentation of this book. Let's get to the good stuff.
Follow me, gang, it's storytime (skippity, skip, skip to the story corner):
Sharon McKay is on trial for the murder of her best friend, Ann Rice. Hey, there was a character named Sharon in Gimme A Kiss! I wonder if there are any other similarities between these two stories???
Even though Sharon's been in prison for the last month, she doesn't really say much about her hard time experience. Her scuzzy lawyer, Johnny Richmond, has a reputation among the inmates of wanting his payment in, um, a non-monetary form. If ya know what I'm sayin'. Well, he has exercised her right to a speedy trial: Ann's murder was 4 weeks ago, but her body has not yet been found. And here's how it happened:
Approximately one year ago, Ann's little brother Jerry committed suicide by gunshot. Ann found his body and a note simply saying "I love her". Ann believes that Jerry killed himself because her best friend Sharon did not return Jerry's romantic affections. Keep your friends close... and your enemies closer, to use a total cliche (just pronounce it 'cleesh', it's too hard to find an accent aigu at this hour).
Ann enlists her hunka hunka dumbass boytoy, Paul, to help her pull off her scheme. Ann, who happens to be an heiress worth millions, plots to frame Sharon for her murder, will a crap-ton of moolah to Paul, run off to Mexico to hide the fact that she still has a pulse, and meet Pauly-boy down there in a year's time to live in the sun and revel in Sharon's ruination.
All along, though, Ann's still acting like she and Sharon are best buds and like she's not plotting to destroy Sharon's life. Ann thinks she's the puppet master...
And yeah, I am doing that marionette dance move from the Bye Bye Bye vid right now.
Chad, Ann's longtime friend and household gardener, teaches her to rock climb. She plants the seeds into Chad's mind to take everyone on a cliffside camping excursion... where she will carry out her evil plan! Wuh hahahaha! Wuh hahahaha!
Partaking in this camping trip we have Ann, Paul, Chad, Sharon, and Fred, who is Sharon's date, but he isn't important and will never be mentioned again.
They do camping shit like singing around a fire, putting up tents, hiking, I dunno, etc. Sharon suggests that she and Ann go for a walk. It's so perfect that it's almost like Sharon is in on framing herself. The two girls walk to the cliff, where Ann stays after Sharon heads back to camp. Ann yells "DON'T", then screams an echoing, fading scream as she falls over the cliff to the river below.
Oooh, but check out her plan: she's hooked to some kind of 400 ft rope and the fall is 500 ft. And she's got a harness thing hidden under her sweater to attach to another rope to lower herself to the ground. Then she's gonna run off into the woods where she planted a stolen getaway car. And flee the country! Totally brillz, Ann. Gotta give props for your mad awesome evilosity.
Hey, wait... how did Ann come up with this idea in the first place?? Well, it comes out in trial that she'd been inspired by a certain slim, green, paperback novel in which a girl plots revenge on her boyfriend by making it look like he killed her...
Ann does manage, painfully, to get loose from the long rope and make her getaway. And that's the last we hear of her... for now.
Meanwhile, back at the camp, everyone is going nuts because they think Sharon pretty much just killed Ann. Except Paul. Cuzzzzz he's in on it, remember? So, Paul's task is to rappel over the cliff to "look for Ann's body on a ledge", but really to cut Ann's rope so she can hide it from the police.
The police soon arrive and take Sharon into custody. This cop is the foul-mouthiest cop I've ever seen in print. He's calling Sharon a bitch and everything. What gives? The police charge Sharon with second degree murder, and we're back at the beginning with Johnny Richmond and the trial.
Different people take the stand, like Paul and Chad. This Johnny Sleazebag is a-whole-nother type of mastermind. He'd visited Ann's place to investigate and Groundskeeper Chad had shown him around. In the library, he found the incriminating copy of Gimme A Kiss (never mentioned by name, but we know what Pike's on about). When Paul is on the stand, Johnny presses him into confessing Ann's plan. He says that he may have cut the rope too soon, causing Ann to fall to her death. She never made it to the car parked in the woods, and he hasn't heard from her since she fell into darkness.
Sharon is released, and to get some closure, she and Chad go back to that fatal cliff. They walk around the spot where Ann would have landed. Chad leads Sharon into a cave that is underneath the river.
Now it's time for a flashback to Ann's adventure. She'd been walking for a while, and had passed out. She woke to find herself in a cave... with Chad! She starts to give an evil villain speech to explain what she's doing, when Chad interrupts her to give his own evil villain speech (!). Who gave her the book that gave her the idea? He knows her better than she knows herself. They should have been together, but she had to go and fall for his half-brother, Paul. Chad had told Jerry that he was in love with Ann. When Jerry laughed at him and threatened to tell Ann, Chad shot him and put a paper with a song Jerry had started writing next to his body.
Meanwhile, Sharon and Chad explore the cave area. Sharon gets creeped out and leaves. She stops to drink some clear river water, and sees Ann's eyeball-less body at the bottom of the river. The police show up AGAIN, and it's the same bastard cop who already hates Sharon. He thinks it's pretty convenient that Sharon would return to the scene and find Ann's body. He also picks up on the fact that Sharon is wearing a new piece of jewellery: a ruby ring.
She'd found it on a ledge near the cave and recognized it as a gift she'd given to Ann on her 16th birthday. She wondered why Ann would have removed it. The funny deal with the ring is that the girls had always called it "Chad's ring" because it had a ruby stone. Sharon had asked him what Ann's birthstone was (June, pearl), but he thought Ann's birthday was in July, like his (July, ruby).
The police have no evidence, and it's late now, so Sharon and Chad decide to camp in the park as is. Thinking about Ann's ring, Sharon realizes that - OMG - it's a sign! Ann was leaving a clue for Sharon that Chad had killed her! Sharon makes a wood-gathering excuse to get away from Chad, but her suspicious behavior gives her away.
Bunch o' action happens at the cliff, and Chad ends up on a ledge, threatening to jump. Sharon feels awful about it, even though he just spent 15 pages trying to kill her. He jumps, and then the police come back. Sharon's pretty well screwed this time, and maybe literally: her last thought in the book is that Johnny Richmond might represent her again, but he'd already warned her how he'd wanna get paid next time. (Cue porn music).
And now you know the rest of the story.
A notable first of the Pikerocosm: Fall into Darkness took place entirely in the Beehive State. That's right, Utah. Not California, or Mexican/Hawaiian vacation spots.
This weekend, I'll be back with an analysis of Christopher Pike's author bio. Next Thursday, visit Like Pike to find a recap of The Lost Mind. During my research I found a bunch of old reviews, and the one for The Lost Mind was - I wanna say "SCATHING" - but "unfavourable" is more accurate. (I'm never joking about the research, btw. And this is just a hobby. Imagine if I was getting paid. I'd be so dedicated that I'd be typing up posts while sitting on Chris Pike's lap in California.)
Reader requests for Die Softly, The Eternal Enemy, and The Starlight Crystal are in the pipeline for the weeks after that.