Thursday, March 12, 2009

Master of Murder

He wrote about his own murder...

No one knew he was famous.

Master of Murder - Christopher Pike
1992, 198 pages

Marvin Summer - AKA Mack Slate, beloved mystery author
Shelly - object of adoration
Triad - Try-add? Tree-ade? Anyway, he's the Sir Jockenstein of this book
Harry - Shelly's former boyfriend and Marvin's rival. Dead guy.

Get this: Marvin's a famous mystery writer... but no one knows he's famous! Ha ha, *wheeze*, now he can sit smugly by while his classmates go apeshit about the books he's written. Oh, that Marvin! From the sounds of things, his mystery series is Fall into Darkness, written in the style of Final Friends, with a Nancy Drew-style title: The Mystery at Silver Spring, per the back cover, Silver Lake in the book's text. And the kids love it, let me tell you. It's like Harry Potter and Twilight combined. But with sex! Lots of sex.

So, Shelly. Marvin really likes Shelly. "Shelly had hair and she had skin - both lovely." Opposed to the bald skeletons in Bio class, I bet she looks pretty good? Or just other, uglier girls with un-lovely hair and skin? Man, Marv, you're making them feel so damn un-lovely/loverly (for British Like Pike reader/maybe readers?).

Flashback to the events of one year ago: Shelly is dating Harry. Buuuut, she decides to go out with Marvin - five times! And then Harry turns up dead in the river after being missing for 3 days. It's ruled a suicide by police but, man, if this happened in my life, I'd be totally suspecting... someone else.

Flashforward to the present: Marv stops to talk to Shelly after class. She's been sort of dating deceased boyfriend Harry's best friend Triad. Despite this, she agrees to a date with Marvin. Oh. My. God. Shell. Did you learn nothing at all from the events of one year ago?

Poor Marvie has the typical sad-sack family life. Like so many YA novel families of the past, there's an alcoholic mother who never leaves the couch, an alcoholic absent father who only shows up every couple months to rough Marv up, and an adorable little sister who is wise beyond her years.

In order to keep his sack of shit parents from stealing his Mack Slate fortune, only Marv's little sister, Ann, knows he writes books. No one else in the world, not even his agent, knows that he's a high school kid. Fo real? Mack Slate is mythically famous. Kids talk about him in class. They wonder if he's tall and dark, or blond with a matching pretty blond wife by the ocean. He's an enigma... I wonder what his "About the Author" says.

So, Marv and Ann spend a lot of time reading fan mail that his agents sends to him at an anonymous post box. Check out these excerpts from fangirl "Becky":
" are really god and we are all just characters in your stories..."
aaaaannnnnd, a pervy story about a dream (ack! no!) she had where she was in the school showers, and Mack Slate came in wearing a tux and had sex with her.
"You were like the devil 'cause you were so forceful, but it was so good, the sex, that you were like God as well."

Ok, girlfriend, you're skeeving me out. I wonder if Mr. Pike used to get this quality of fan letter. No time to ponder because Marv (and, yeah, I am the only one calling him that) has received a locally mailed letter saying only: "I KNOW WHO YOU ARE." Say whattt? No one knows who Mack Slate really is... unless someone does. You will not believe how little this whole letter plot adds to the story. Truly, it will blow your mind.

So, Marv's secret is out AND his deadline for the sixth and final Mack Slate novel passed months ago and he has no clue how to end the series. The story goes like this: Town treasure Ann McGaffer (yes, the dead girl in his novel is named after his own little sister) has been found dead by murder. Someone in Skank Spring/Lake is responsible. Her skanky best friend? Her skankalicious boyfriend? Her skankalicious boyfriend's skanktastic best friend? Her skankass brother? Her skank dad? Her skankariffic male confidante/fuck buddy? There are so many orgies in the plot, I can't even tell you who was doing who (or whom?).

It's date night for Shell and Marv. They go out on Marv's motorcycle. He falls asleep in the movie theatre. Marv, man, this is your date! If you're bored, think of how Shelly feels. Think of how I feel!!

Later at Shelly's, they make a bubble tub in the Jacuzzi and make some jokes about how un-gay they both are, and then make out. . Romantic! Last train to Sexin'town... until Shelly breaks down and tells Marv that Harry (her dead beau) didn't commit suicide - he was murdered!

Marv can't solve his own murder story, which ridiculously mirrors Harry's real-life death so much that Marv woulda had to be psychic or something when he wrote it, so he decides to spend the weekend demolishing the shoddy police investigation into Harry's "murder"/murder.

Anyweegie, Marv ends up doing crazy shit like dreaming about his Silver Lake characters, visiting the old man who found Harry's body, fist-fighting with his pisshead dad, and getting more anonymous fan letters saying "SHE DOESN'T LOVE YOU THE WAY YOU THINK SHE DOES" and "THEY ARE PLOTTING TO KILL YOU AS YOU READ THIS."

He drives to Shelly's to, like, see what's up. And finds her bubbletubbin' with Triad! That bastard! Marv dies in a ball on the floor of his own soul, then cries for hours while driving his motorbike. The wind will dry his tears.

No, really, it will. It's in the text. Page 113.

Just because he's at the point of all things obsessive, Marv goes back to the bridge where he suspects Harry died. I have no clue why he's doing favours for Shelly NOW, but, hey, that's Marv. He pretty much works up a reasonable theory that Harry hung from a rope off the side of the bridge, based on rope burn evidence on Harry's jacket and broken blood capillaries in his legs from hanging for an extended time.

And oil stains on his hands! ZOMG! That's it! Harry was lying in wait over the side of the bridge, after dumping oil everywhere and putting a rope across the lane. When Marv came by on his motorcycle, Harry was gonna use his own weight or something to raise the rope into a clothesline/tripwire and kill/injure Marv, and then hide the rope so it looked like the oil spill did Marv in. Ooohh, evil. But Harry got trapped in the rope over the side, and eventually fell to his death. Or hung to his death, and then fell.

Having solved Harry's accidental death to his own satisfaction, Marv decides that he will write the end of his novel series... as soon as he kills Triad.

So, one thing I didn't tell you about Triad is that he's after Marvin's bike. He's made several offers, and Marv finally decides to take him up on it. Cuzzz the best way to kill a guy is to copy the way a different guy tried to kill you but ended up accidentally killing himself. And you know what? This whole book people were talking about how smart Marv is.

Jockstrap Triad buys the bike, and Marv sets him up to have to drive across the deadly bridge and back to get the helmet.

Marv does the lying-in-wait thing with his rope and oil trap all set. It's awesome, man. Until... he notices that Shelly is on the back of the bike! There's no way he can go through with it. He realizes that Harry had done the same thing one year ago.

Triad stops the bike, and a fight erupts. Well, he pretty much shows Marv what he thinks of people who try to kill him with a fake-oil-slick-and-clothesline combo. Marvin realizes that just like in his story, the boyfriend's BFF wanted the heroine for himself. Triad killed Harry! Triad wouldn't think twice about killing Marv! Traid would probably freaking kill Shelly so no one else could have her!

Shelly chooses now to reveal that she's the one who knows Marvin's author identity. B-b-but how? Actually, who cares? Triad's about to commit a mass massacre. Bunch o' action: everyone nearly falls off the bridge, Triad beats up Marv and even bashes Shelly's face offa the bridge railing. Triad grabs Shelly and holds a knife to her, but Marvin don't even care. He steals Triad's new-previously-owned motorcycle and leaves.

So, then Marv goes to finish his book, The Mystery of Silver Lake VI: Night of Grief. Having escaped becoming a murder-by-jock-involving-bridge statistic, he's feeling pretty cocky. He calls his agent and tells him to book a big reveal and author reading at Sesa High - his very own high school!

He takes the stage, to complete silence and astonishment from the audience. He makes a speech and whatever. Shelly doesn't show up. Neither does Triad. Maybe he's in triage? Come on, gimme somethin'!

Shelly meets Marv at the bridge and tells him that she thought that HE was the one who killed Harry, because his books told the story so exactly. And she knew he was Mack Slate because she broke into his house and looked on his computer. Anyways, she won't tell what happened to Triad after Marv left them on the bridge, but let's put it this way: he was never seen again.

Oh, and check out this sleazy leg art meant to entice readers.

And I'll thank you to not check out the pudding stain directly above the sexy leg.

Thanks to everyone who stuck around/returned. I'm a knob, and I know it. I just got really into knitting this winter. Which is a poor excuse, but at least it's not jigsaw puzzles. I'll get the "Coming Up Next"-majig going again in the side bar once I'm all organized. See you soon!


Deathycat said...

Yes! An update! I missed your blog. ^_^ This is like one of my favorite Pike books ever despite the absurdity of it. But all his books are kind of absurd.... I always said Try-add. And while we're at it, is Sesa See-sah or Say-sah. I said Say-sah.

BananaBomb said...

I also love this particular monstrosity. Not really sure why though.

I always thought Try-add was a dumbass. How did Marvin never see the parallels between Harry's death and his own series?

LW, glad to see you back in fighting form. I missed the Pikeness so much I started reading The Last Vampire last night. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back!

I remember really disliking Marv when I first read this book. For a supposed genius, he's pretty dumb.

Also, sweet pudding stain! When I was a teen, I used to eat lemons while reading (yeah, I know), so a lot of my YA books have lemony fresh stains on their pages.

Sadako said...

So...Marv just LEAVES Shelly and Triad on the bridge with him holding a knife to her throat? And she's cool with this? And then she doesn't say how she got away? Hmm, maybe Shelly and Triad were in on it together?

Devika said...

This entry was totally worth the wait! When I first read this book I remember thinking that the leg pic on the back cover was unnecessary and poorly cropped. Not to mention Shelly's explanation for knowing Marv's identity is so weak. She could have at least said she had a prophetic dream involving an Egyptian and an alien.

zanne said...

Glad you are back! I was hoping you'd write about this book. I remembered the motorcycle thing on the bridge but that is about it. Thanks for the recap!

I really need to update my blog. It's been too long and I've been way too lazy.

88Keys said...

I'm guessing that Mack's author bio says he likes to "make sure his books are prominately dispalyed in local bookstores." Seriously, don't some people speculate that Pike was writing about himself in this book?

And...Triad? As a name? Really?

Great recap. Glad you're back.

88Keys said...

Holy crap! You added my blog to your list! Thank you so much! That explains why I got so many hits coming from Like Pike. :)

sundae_mourning said...

i love, love, love this book! i remember i really wanted to have something like that happen in my town, with myself playing Marvin's role.

Fear Street said...

My brain hurts. I find myself saying that a lot after reading anything Pike has written...

Glad you're back :)

Anonymous said...

The triage bit nearly killed me! Get it? Hehe... I missed you, glad you're back :)

Jenn said...

For some reason I remember this book being really improbable, even for a Pike book...and I was like 12 when I read it lol

Gil said...

Just found this blog, was thrilled to do so.

These books were my sustenance back at a younger time.

Looking forward to you doing See You Later. Was my favorite back when. (Didn't really hold up to the scrutiny on the second read around...)

Emily said...

So glad you're back! Your blog has become one of my faves. ;) I still absolutely love this book, I've read it so many times I have passages memorized. Maybe because I've wanted to be a writer since I was at least 9, maybe also because it has such obvious inspiration from Pike's own life as a writer (his idea of "uncovering" plots rather than creating them methodically is very Stephen-King-esque, and I love that).

Would love to see you do Spellbound -- always enjoyed that one, despite (or maybe because of?) the ridiculous origin of the "villain" in it...

Anonymous said...

I never liked Marv...he was such a pompous, self-absorbed jackass.

Lord Mark said...
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