Retro Reading: The Babysitter by Andrew Coburn
Maybe a Nanny Would Have Been Better
A couple of years ago, I was on a mission to find a few movie tie-in's and a few books I had read years ago. Of course being a teenager at the time I can't really remember if I had actually read the books or ended up throwing them away at some point. I know I should be hanging my head in shame.
While on one of these little outings at the used bookstore, I came across a copy of The Babysitter by Andrew Coburn. My first thought this was the source material for the 1995 Alicia Silverstone film of the same name. There's no relation to it at all except sharing the same title.
In a way I was sort of disappointed since I thought the book would have opened up some type of explanation for the movie.
The Babysitter is about the murder of a mysterious babysitter and the disappearance of her evening charge. When John and Merle Wright return home from a night on the town, they discover the body of Paula Aherne and that their baby, Marcie, is missing.
While the Wright's are cleared of any wrong doing, the local police and FBI conjure up their own suspects. The Wright's however want to know where the child is and start investigating on their own.
I think the only reason I was attracted to this novel was due to the cover art. At that time, cover art had a way of enticing people to buy books. They had some type of eye catching hold and before you knew it, you'd be settled down later that evening reading. Whether good or bad, the cover art made you buy you the book (and it still plays an important part in today's market if you're actually buying a bound book).
The cover art on this particular novel is shiny, and a baby's rattle is being held by a skelton's hand. Sure seems like it would be a page turner, but I found it to be a counting page turner. I just wasn't impressed.
Thinking back to when the book was originally published (1979) I recall an awful lot of mystery/thrillers featuring missing children and stalked teenagers. Babysitting seemed to be a huge market in the thriller genre following the success of the film Halloween.
One distinct problem I had for this retro read was there were too many characters. They are generally referred to as "the man" or "the woman" so with a lot being referenced it was hard to keep everyone straight. Eventually they are given names, but by that time, who really cares?