Forgotten Young Adult Novels About Kidnapping and Prank Calls
July 7, 2008 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know the title of two young adult books from the late 70s, early 80s. One is about a group of siblings who are kidnapped and held in a basement, the other is about teenagers making a prank call that results in the death of one of their classmate's parents.

My parents used to drop me off at the Boone public library during the summer in lieu of camp or other paid supervision, and I would park myself in front of the paperback rack in the young adult section and methodically work my way through the books. So these books might just be throwaway titles that have long been stripped and discontinued.

The kidnapped book involved maybe 4 kids - siblings, I think - who are grabbed in a park, thrown in a van, and then kept in a basement for a while before the police rescue them. It's not really that scary a book, as nothing else really traumatic happens, and it actually made kidnapping sound kind of fun for me. The one scene I remember is where the kids try to put a message in an empty glass coke bottle and flush it down the toilet. The toilet clogs, and they have to break the bottle. This is the scene my brain decided to store in my long-term memory. Thanks, brain.

The second book was one of those Lois Duncan-like teens-do-something-stupid-with-disastrous-consequences books. A group of teenagers makes a random prank call where one of the girls says something like "Somebody tried to kill me." The people on the other end of the line assume she's their daughter, freak out, and die in a car accident. The girl feels guilty and befriends the daughter. Eventually, everything comes out, and everyone feels really bad.

Do these sound familiar to anyone?
posted by bibliowench to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not the right answer, but Paul Zindel's The Pigman is another YA book that involves teens, random prank calls, and regret... and it's always worth a mention.
posted by activitystory at 8:58 AM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: The kidnapping one might be The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case or The Solid Gold Kid or Five Were Missing.
posted by iconomy at 9:08 AM on July 7, 2008

Response by poster: Five Were Missing is the book I was thinking (and apparently misremembering key plot elements) of. Lois Duncan strikes again.
posted by bibliowench at 9:21 AM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: I've never read Five Were Missing, but I think you might actually be thinking of Three By Mistake by Richard Parker (aka 4 Desperate Days). I'm having trouble findng a description online, but I specifically remember the message-in-a-bottle scene.

There were only three kids kidnapped -- two siblings (the intended targets) and a third kid who happened to be with them. Grabbed as they were walking home.

I also remember a scene where they used a battering ram try and escape. They were going to use it against one of the kidnappers -- the kidnapper came in holding a tray of food, and they charged at him -- he tilted up the tray and the ram slid up it and struck the kidnapper in the jaw and knocked him out.

This kidnapper was either named Spider or he was just compared to a spider -- he was thin and had hairy, spider-like hands. The other kidnapper was a big brutish guy.

There's also a part where one of them escapes and is on a beach outside. He approaches or is approached by a third guy who turns out to be another kidnapper.

Any of that sound familiar?
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:21 PM on July 7, 2008

karlos is describing the right book, i remmebr the battering ram scene AND the coke bottle scene very well.
posted by swbarrett at 5:00 PM on July 7, 2008

Response by poster: Well I'll be damned. I clearly remember the passages from the Duncan book that I saw on the Amazon preview, but this one sounds more like the book that was originally tickling my brain. I apparently read more than one book about kidnapping - which, considering I worked my way through the entire YA section each summer, is not that surprising.

Any guesses on the deadly prank call book?
posted by bibliowench at 6:28 PM on July 7, 2008

Best answer: "Just Dial a Number" by Edith Maxwell? Read the first review on this Amazon page makes it sound exactly like what you remember, but there's not a lot of information out there about it.
posted by Science! at 4:12 AM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you Science!, Karlos, and iconomy. I can quiet that part of my brain now.
posted by bibliowench at 6:53 AM on July 9, 2008

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