Welcome back, 39 clue hunters as we explore Jude Watson’s In Too Deep. (If this is your first visit to the 39 Clues universe, grab the back story here.) Now, I thought book 5, The Black Circle, got intense. I thought ex KGB agent Irina Spasky was scary. And Dude, she was. Like, unpredictable psycho. But that was before meeting Ian and Natalie’s beautiful stone cold sociopath mother…. Isabel Kabra. YIKES. At least Irina had feelings, however conflicted, and you know, regrets. But Isabel… frozen ice queen sub-Kelvin temps. Burr.
After her amazing job with book 4, Ms. Watson has done it again with book 6 of 10 in the 39 Clues adventure series. Her dialog caused me much snickering, usually some crack from Dan… everything from “barf control!” to “the hounds of suck”. But after reading this emotionally marked book, I have to agree that orphans Dan and Amy Cahill may well be “in too deep”.
The lively clue hunt begins in the land Down Under, with Amy hiding in an airport bathroom stall, while Dan and au pair Nellie Gomez, Saladin in tow, split up and regroup after their Moscow plane touched down (a hopeless attempt to escape detection). But instead of the usual high speed chase avoiding other clue hunting Cahills, they find their opponent to be far more stealthy and dangerous. Far more.
With one weak hint that their deceased parents Arthur and Hope had visited Sydney Australia, their only lead is Dan and Amy’s tanned “uncle” Shep, Oz surfer dude and pilot. But it’s been 8 years, what could he possibly know? And if he and “Artie” were so tight, where has he been when Dan and Amy needed him most?
Isabel corners Amy, confiding not only does she wish her children would abandon the race (cuz they’re major rich already!), but that Ian has feelings for her. She warns Amy the “winner” of the prize to be the most powerful person in the world will be in danger, always. But Dan and Amy soon discover Isabel has pocketed a photo of Bob Troppo from the museum, and the hunt is on. And why is Irina lurking around again? How much longer will she tolerate the elite Isabel’s abuse for the sake of the Lucian branch? More complications, the beefcake Holts are in Oz as well, half drowning the shark biscuits on their boogie boards.
The Cahill orphans were warned early on in the clue hunt, left in the final will of their grandmother Grace Cahill, to trust no one, but Shep is über cool, and a pilot, a handy skill when in clue pursuit. Leaving their Egyptian Mau happily in his pad with plenty of barramundi, Shep agrees to fly them to the wild Outback in search of the Coober Pedy opal mine where the bomb digs Amelia Earhart, and their parents, had both previously stopped for a mysterious visit.
While Amy was fossicking for opals with her little brother, she was also dredging up repressed memories of the horrible night their parents died. Why would Irina press her to remember and insist they be Amy’s own true memories, not something suggested or planted by someone else? Who belonged to the angry voices down stairs that dreadful night? Were her memories repressed due to pain and loss, or because of unbearable guilt?
With the help of Shep’s “mates”, the clue hunters make considerable progress in “Fossie’s” underground world, that is, until Isabel, who has clearly “gone Troppo” (and thinks nothing of putting her own children in peril), dumps poisonous funnel spiders and a deadly taipan snake down the shaft to keep them company.
Following the clues of “RCH” and Ms Earhart to Jakarta Indonesia and the volcanic Krakatoa, they discover more unsettling evidence that their faithful au pair may not be who she seems to be as they land safely at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport. (But Nellie risks her life to save Dan… what could it all mean?) In spite of some deep hurt as Amy finally reveals her painful memories to Dan, brother and sister “nut out” and once again ditch exhausted Nellie in search of clues on the active volcanic island. (Lots o’ fire and water in this book!) Not surprising, this smoky leg of their journey practically becomes a Cahill family reunion. And holy dooley do they encounter some bloody big surprises, including the discover of… the next clue!
A multimedia experience, each 39 Clues book contains 6 new playing cards in the inside cover (along with a coded message in the end paper!). As with the previous books, I carefully removed my pretty new cards (heh, heh) and logged on to the website with my agent name, gleefully adding them to my growing online collection. (Click here to learn more about the cards!) Naturally I spent a little time (only a little… sorta…) playing a few games in Arena 39 and went out on another Cahill agent mission for more clues.
Catch you on the hunt!