The Viper's Nest
Review: Fleeing the island of Java (Indonesia) following the fire that took the life of someone they thought was their nemesis, but who saved their lives while sacrificing hers, Amy and Dan Cahill use the lyrics to a song as a guide to their next destination and travel to South Africa in their search of another clue in The Viper's Nest, the seventh book in The 39 Clues series of adventure novels, this entry written by Peter Lerangis.
Amy and Dan quickly discover their grandmother, Grace, spent a considerable amount of time on the continent of Africa, and in particular the country of South Africa, leaving behind several documents, including a secret letter from Winston Churchill, that aid the children in their quest. But the letter is cryptic, giving only the location of a "realization", the Witbank Mines, where a young Churchill had once taken refuge during the Second Boer War. Heading off for the mines, Amy and Dan are convinced if they can find the key to help them decode the letter, they'll be able to learn the next clue in their bizarre hunt around the world, which will ultimately lead them to the greatest power ever known.
Though filled with the action and adventure that the books in the series are known for, The Viper's Nest also has an abundance of puzzles, codes, and secret messages for Amy and Dan (and the reader) to figure out. These add an interesting intellectual twist to the story. (And don't overlook the coded message printed on the page edges of chapters 7 through 11 for readers to decipher!) Finally, there is some subtle, and most welcome, misdirection in the plot, giving the story an element or two of a classic mystery.
Typical of books in the series, there are plenty of cliffhangers to keep readers in suspense, with the book ending — somewhat appropriately — with hints on where Amy and Dan may be heading next, but not revealing the exact location. And as promised in the previous book, In Too Deep, Amy and Dan do learn in which branch of the family they belong, though it isn't clear what this new knowledge may mean within the overall context of the series.
Book 8 of The 39 Clues, The Emperor's Code, is written by Gordon Korman (who also wrote the second book One False Note), and is scheduled for publication in April 2010.
Acknowledgment: Scholastic provided a copy of The Viper's Nest for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Dead of Night
Scholastic (Hardcover), March 2012
ISBN-13: 9780545298414; ISBN-10: 0545298415
Location(s) referenced in The Viper's Nest: South Africa
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The Viper's Nest by Peter Lerangis — The 39 Clues Series
Publication Date: February 2010
List Price: $12.99