Something to hide...
When Elizabeth Wakefield receives a camera as a memento from her friend Regina Morrow, who died recently, she never expects it to plunge her into a dangerous mystery. Then she takes a picture of three suspicious-looking men. One of them tries to grab her new camera, and Elizabeth only narrowly escapes.
Watching TV that night, Elizabeth thinks she sees one of the same men on the news. But this man is accused of being involved in a drug-smuggling operation. Could this be the man in her picture? When the darkroom at school is trashed, Elizabeth knows that something really strange is going on. Someone wants that picture-and will do anything to get it!
Regina's Legacy is not my favorite SVH book. It's one that I remember being terribly disappointed in and re-reading it, I felt the same way. The story itself isn't awful. You've got mistaken twin identity, Jessica's feelings being hurt, some Lila along for the ride, and a fair amount of photography talk, all of which should've made me happy. But so much of this book hinges on people keeping stupid secrets or being upset when they shouldn't be that the A plot loses me pretty quick and the B plot is directly tied to it so there's no real relief there, either.
But most of all, my problem with Regina's Legacy is that they knew damn well that slapping Regina's name on a SVH book would lure people back because Regina. I remember feeling tricked then and perhaps my initial vexation with the book has carried through the years. In any case, I wanted more than this book could ever give, so I'm sorry in advance.
We begin the book with Jessica ribbing Liz about joining the nerd factory that is the photography club. Jess jokes that if she's not careful, Liz's next stop will be the chess club, and Liz says she only joins one new thing at a time and that chess is her next stop. :P This is cute enough, but is almost immediately obliterated with the introduction of the photography club members (not the problem) and the addressing everyone's immediate thought: no, Jeffrey will not be joining us, despite his thing being photography: he'll be too busy with soccer, which is just as well as Liz still feels weird about how things ended. DON'T DANGLE DRAMA LIKE THAT, SVH. GIVE IT TO ME.
Also, super annoying since we just went through Enid's Story, huh. Ah well. Jeffrey drama blocked on all sides. WOE.
Andrea and Claire stop by and wonder if it's too late to join the club, and Jim assures them that this is only their second week so there's still plenty of time to join in on the fun. We quickly learn that Jim teaches the beginners while Allen takes on those who are ready to move on beyond the basics. I... don't know what adviser Mr. Marks does, but hey. Adults are rarely important in Sweet Valley anyway. It doesn't take long for the group to decide to do a project that turns into a mural about SVH. And they decide to keep it a secret from everyone, which is great except that instead of telling their partners that hey, they'll find out everything two weeks from Monday (how long they've given themselves to do this), Jim, Liz, Andrea, and possibly others decide to just keep it SUPER SECRET and naturally Shelley, Todd, and Nicholas are a little vexed at being excluded, humored at best, and finding a bunch of pictures of someone else being taken by their SO. Seriously, just tell them it's a photography club secret project and drop it. Don't make it all mysterious. The only person who'd continue to care would be Jessica, honestly.
But no. Noooooo. That would be too easy. At first it's kind of cute to see Shelley and Todd bond over Jim and Liz being photo dorks together and it makes sense, since S&T are both basketball players who love the game. But it doesn't take long for Shelley to tire of coming in a distant second to Jim's photography and instead of putting it like that, or understanding that Jim seriously underestimated how long it would take to put the lab back together after the B plot of the story crashed into the A plot, Shelley goes off with the guy she had a crush on prior to Jim, but who is so unmemorable that I'd completely forgotten him since Shelley's book. (Hi, Greg?) Just talk to each other, people. Jesus.
I've gotten ahead of myself, though. So the photography club is out there, taking oodles of photos, and Liz is giving Jess a taste of her own medicine by hogging the Fiat to drive around SV taking pictures of everything and nothing. Oh, wait. We've gotta loop Regina in somehow, don't we?
Skye Morrow promised at the end of the previous book to give Liz something she thought Regina would want her to have. She's a little late on giving it to her, but she shows up at Casa Wakefield to gift Liz with the spiffy Nikon camera Regina received at her 16th birthday party. The only part of this entire book that sparks any real memory of Regina is the picture taped to the box, of Liz and Regina, taken with said camera by Kurt Morrow at the party. Regina had apparently been getting into photography before her death and after hearing about the club from Andrea, Nicholas's new girlfriend (aw, they remembered), Skye decides to gift Liz with the camera.
I feel like a dick that this scene doesn't do much for me, but it seems weird that Liz, who was so concerned about Nicholas after Regina's death that we had multiple books about it (granted they tended to be specials but still) didn't stop by to see Regina's parents once after the funeral. So either this is a retcon or it's not true to who Liz is as a character. Also, it feels weird that Enid would sit out in the backyard studying instead of going in with Liz to great Regina's mom. Also also, when Regina's ~tragic story~ is recapped, they don't mention that the boyfriend who sent her on her deadly spiral was none other than Bruce Patman.
So, Liz has a pretty new camera and it doesn't take her long to head to the beach for some shots. She takes Prince Albert with her and they spend the afternoon taking pictures of everything and nothing, and I'd like to point out that the dog is just running up and down the beach without a leash or Liz picking up after him at all. Just saying.
As she's leaving, Liz spots three dudes running and looking kinda weird, so she takes their picture. One of the dudes gets super upset and tries to grab Liz's camera, but Albert steps in and growls, and Liz runs away. She then guns the engine and hopes that her dog knows what to do as she prepares to drive away. I... Liz? What if the jerk who tried to grab your camera kicked your dog so he couldn't make his triumphant leap into the backseat? What would you have done then? It makes for a great visual, but Liz is a shitty pet owner, man.
Liz later tells Todd about her run-in with the guys and is convinced that the guy in the middle of the trio is Ron Hunter, a guy she sees on TV during a news report about someone recanting their statement about being involved in the biggest drug ring in the US. Subtle has never been something SVH has strived for, has it?
A few days later, Jess heads to the beach with Lila and finds herself being followed by a cute guy in a light blue convertible. Lila convinces Jess to pull over because dude is super cute and Jess complies because if Lila says this guy is that cute, he's that cute. His name is Chad and he's interested in seeing how that picture she took of him and his friends came out, and also sorry his friend got so aggressive. Jess is baffled and then realizes he thinks she's Liz. Still, cute guy she'll get to see later? He can think she's Liz all he wants. She gives him her number and tells him the photo's at school "drying".
Cut to the next day when everyone finds out the darkroom's been trashed. Unfortunately, Liz and Jessica aren't really speaking too much because Liz tuned Jess out when she tried to tell her about Chad and while I don't blame Jess for being upset (Liz was rude), it's also super obvious this is just to keep them from talking to one another and figuring out the Chad mystery. Like so obvious that even kid!me got it immediately.
Liz realizes pretty quickly that they had to be after her photo but can't prove it because who's going to believe that? This is when Jim severely underestimates how long it'll take to put the lab back together and since we're not in the time of cellphones, can't just call Shelley and tell her he'll be late. Oh, wait, you could still do that with the payphone, except he forgot her entirely. Still, I can't fault him too much because the place was trashed and it's his home away from home.
Liz eventually makes it to Mr. Sutton's lab to enlarge the photo so she can read Chad's shirt and finds out that it says Rick's Place. Guys, I just cannot stress how stupid it is that this drug thing is happening in Sweet Valley. SO. STUPID. I can't. I just... I can accept every doppelgänger in the world traveling through the town, I can accept face snatching, and vampires and werewolves (technically that's London but whatever) but the drug ring being blown apart in Sweet Valley is just too much for me. It's where I draw the line, dammit. Why are they even in town? Chad makes it sound like they kinda chose the place at random and if so, why is he wearing merch from a local restaurant, even if it's his favorite one? Who even buys merch like that? When we finally get to Rick's Place, it sounds like a more upscale kind of place (not posh or anything but not the kind of place that sells t-shirts) so what in the hell?
Chad finally gets a hold of Jessica and they make a date for later that night. Luckily for Jessica, Todd and Liz choose the same night to do recon at Rick's Place, which is where Chad takes Jessica after the world's worst game of bowling in history. I'm not sure why Chad can't be bothered to really try and make Jessica think he's charming after they start their date, but he doesn't. Jess wonders why he bothered if he doesn't seem to want to talk to her, or really be interested in all, but since we know he's after the picture.. eh. Seriously, though, what was his endgame? Grab the picture and the negative and just threaten her? Kill her? What?
Anyway, the moment Chad and Jessica enter Rick's Place, Liz and Todd watch them to see what the fuck is going on. Liz wants to grab Jessica and run to safety, but Todd points out that won't help them figure out what the hell Chad is up to. I mean... he's right but also, Jessica is the queen of getting into trouble so maybe don't let her? Especially since Liz can tell that Jess is NOT happy. Chad finally brings up the photo and Jess realizes that's what this has all been about and the two are off to SVH. In the parking lot she briefly catches Elizabeth's eye and points to her cheerleading jacket as a clue to where they're going. Jess convinced Chad that she had the picture in her locker at school, btw. Jess's cheer jacket sure got a lot of screentime this book. So too did Todd's BMV having trouble starting, so naturally it does so at this crucial moment in time. Eventually Todd and Liz catch up to Chad and the two race, though Chad doesn't realize that Liz and Jess are twins because he's too caught up in putting a rich douche in his place. The cops pull Todd and Chad is thrilled.
Liz explains her sister has been kidnapped and eventually works out that they're headed to SVH and the race is back on.
At SVH, Jess stalls, first telling Chad that no one will let them in as the school is closed, but Chad's not above a little breaking and entering. Obviously. She then takes him the long way round to Elizabeth's locker and finally legitimately has problems opening her twin's locker because she's so scared. Been there, Jess. I understand. Luckily for Jess, the cops show up and Chad takes off...
...only to run right into Todd. Of course. They tussle and then Chad's being led off in cuffs, with the twins and Todd following along to the police station. Because we absolutely must hear this, I feel like every bit of protocol on the books is broken when Chad confesses in front of everybody that Ron Hunter and his twin, Rich, were part of the biggest drug ring in the US, until Ron went soft. Rich took Ron's place and recanted Ron's statement because that'll totally work. Fingerprints, people. Fingerprints! Am I the only one who watched that episode of MacGyver?
So, y'know, twin shenanigans. Liz points out that she probably wouldn't have thought anything of the picture she took except George flipped his shit and basically blew their cover. Rick's Place having t-shirts probably didn't help, Chad.
The twins and Todd end up in the news for their help in busting the drug ring and instead of ending up dead like anyone busting up a drug ring nowadays, they just get treated to people cheering them on at school. Lest you feel too good about Jessica, in our teaser for the next book, she can't help but think bitchy thoughts about Robin's previous weight.
Oh, the photography club did manage to salvage enough pictures and take new ones to fill their mural. Which is naturally a hit and Jim managed to make up with Shelley and Skye and Kurt Morrow show up and offer to pay for the repairs to the lab. For Regina.
And Liz can't help but think that her persistence in solving this mystery was due in part to Regina's drug history and that this way countless lives might've been saved, thanks to Regina's camera. Which is why she put the picture of Regina and Liz on the mural. Aw.
We end with the cheerleaders discussing donuts and Robin worrying about gaining weight and Jess being bitchy, in her head, about Robin's weight. Next time we deal with Robin's eating disorder. That should be... sigh.
- Photography Club: Jim Roberts, Tina Ayala, Allen Walters, John, Patty, Elizabeth, Olivia, Claire, Andrea, DeeDee, Neil, Andy, and Mr. Marks is the adviser. Claire and Andrea joined in the second week.
- Mondays are for Jim teaching the newbies and Allen helping the beyond the basics crowd. Wednesdays are anything goes.
- The SVH photo lab doesn't do color prints, so Patty has hers done at a lab in town.
- At the second Wednesday meeting, the club decides to do a mural showing their vision of life at SVH, and it'll be done two weeks from the following Monday. The mural will be on the north wall of the main lobby.
- Only Tina and Jim are mentioned as doing color prints for the mural, though it's entirely possible Allen did as well.
- Liz's angle for the club is the teachers at SVH while Allen goes for group shots (like the cheerleaders act practice). Tina covers the couples and John seems to be going for the tennis team. Andrea goes for the musicians and Claire tackles the football team, including shots of them from the locker room. DeeDee went with the arts and Neil concentrated on funny faces in the lunch line. "Andy's photographs were sensitive studies of interracial friendships at Sweet Valley High, and included a beautiful portrait of Patty and DeeDee." Jim decided to go with the photography club in action.
- When Regina's tragic death is mentioned, Bruce's name never comes up.
- Regina is said to have inherited her mother's dark eyes. Um, I'd bet a pretty penny that Regina's eyes were blue. I'd bet almost the same amount that Skye's were, too.
- Thursday, Skye gives Elizabeth Regina's camera while Enid hangs out in the backyard studying.
- Apparently Liz hasn't been by to see Regina's parents since the funeral.
- Over one weekend, Liz took 108 photos. It's implied that it's very possible that she took that many in one day. (Saturday)
- The first picture Andrea develops herself is a shot of her father doing a cannonball into their pool.
- Regina's camera is the best Nikon makes.
- At Casey's, Liz is working on a chocolate chip cone that she can't finish, so she gives the rest to Todd.
- Todd Wilkins has crap luck with cars. His new BMW has issues starting and Liz thinks he doesn't want to admit his new toy is already borked.
- Liz mentally complains about how long people are taking using the photo equipment and then proceeds to take an hour herself. :P
- Claire doesn't know who Max Dellon (The Droids) is.
- Chad drives a light blue convertible. He's got longish white-blonde hair, sky blue eyes, muscular arms, a broad chest, and Jessica initially thinks he's 19 or 20, though she revises this opinion when out on her disastrous date with him. He's also a smoker, and oh yeah, part of a drug ring. But Lila thinks he's super cute. When asked what he does, he says he's an "entrepreneur." Dude, anytime some dude says that, run the other direction. Just start running now and ask no further questions.
- Liz wears a deep pink sleeveless dress and pearls to dinner at Todd's and Jessica jokes that dinner with the Wilkins family is more formal these days.
- After seeing Elizabeth's picture of the creepy trio and a flash of Ron on the news, Todd eventually agrees to help Liz with her mystery.
- Greg Hilliard drives a Jeep.
- Amy, Jess, and Lila are trying out a homemade hair goop that consists of mayo, lemon juice, mashed avocados, and beer which Ned gave Jessica permission to use so long as she didn't drink it.
- Amy's father is a freelance photographer and has his own studio on Main Street.
- Rick's Place is a restaurant on the water in Big Mesa. Todd describes it as an upscale burger joint.
- Jessica thinks of Big Mesa as classy, though anything would seem that way when compared to Valley Bowling, which is where Chad took her first on their date. How many bowling alleys does Sweet Valley have anyway? Liz bowls and Valley Bowling might've gotten a biased review from Jess but it still doesn't really sound like somewhere Liz would go.
- The bartender at Rick's Place is Steve.
- During their casing of the joint, Liz and Todd consume one round of nachos, two salads, two burgers, one order of onion rings, and a pitcher of soda before ordering a hot fudge sundae that neither finishes before running after Jessica and Chad.
- The Kimball party of 25 blocks the exit when Todd and Liz try to leave, and the birthday boy, a guy around Liz's age, tries to get Liz to stick around for the party.
- The other guy in the picture is named George.
- Rich Hunter took his twin's place in Washington, testifying in front of the Senate.
- Liz includes a 9x12 photo of Mr. Collins in the mural.
- Todd's favorite picture is of him and Liz at a soccer match where he's lifted Liz onto her shoulders and they look happy. ♥
- The cheerleaders joke about their cars magically finding their own way to Caster's Bakery. I guess it's Sweet Valley's answer to Krispy Kreme.
Elizabeth suspected that someday, when her twin discovered what it was she wanted more than anything else in the world, Jessica would find out that she had a serious side, too. -p3
"Maybe they're performing some kind of satanic voodoo rituals," Lila suggested when Jessica told her about barging in on the photography meeting the day before. "Maybe they take pictures of people and then stick pins in them." - Li, I think we need to talk about your understanding of Satanism and possibly voodoo. p44
The second fib always came easier to Jessica than the first. - This explains so much, considering how easily the first seems to appear. p48
"You're really going to allow me into that sacred place?" he teased. - I can't stop you from taking this the wrong way. p61
"Don't worry," Elizabeth said soothingly. "We came after you."
"I knew you would!" Jessica smiled at her twin through her tears. "But did you have to cut it so close?" p123
"Spare us," Lila groaned. "Liz is the one who was trying to track down criminals. You were just trying to get a date!" -p130
"No problem," Winston insisted. "Hero status lasts for six months. After that, it has to be renewed with another heroic act." p131
"One donut's not going to hurt you," Jessica told her. Not that I'd risk it if I were Robin, she thought. If she had been fat once the way Robin had, Jessica was sure she would limit herself to carrot sticks for the rest of her life. - annnnnnnnd any goodwill this book might've maybe earned suddenly went up in smoke. p148
Let's get this out of the way: Regina's Legacy has fuck all to do with Regina Morrow beyond someone thinking it'd be a rad idea to have Liz bust up a drug ring and it'd come full circle because Regina's biggest defining trait is that she died because of her coke experiment. Otherwise, despite being mentioned a handful of times, and her name being on the cover, there's nothing that feels very Regina about anything in here. It's a big reason why I disliked it when I was younger and a bigger reason why I dragged my feet when it came around to recapping it.
Also, I'm not a big fan of most of the plots running around in it, so there's that. It's not horribly written and if you're interested in photography of the late 80's, very early 90's, this might've been your thing. Alas, almost everything in this stupid book comes down to no one communicating a goddamn thing and I loathe that trope with just about every fiber of my being. So I'm sorry, ghosty, as you probably didn't get to dictate that being the order of the day but this one is on my "I expected better" list and thus I judge it more harshly than say, a sane person might.