It’s been a while since I read the previous books in this series, and the cast continues to grow, so it took a few chapters to settle into this new adventure and remember who everyone was. Once I did, it was a great adventure. Mr. Benedict, the founder of the Society, is absent for most of the book, in fact the mission is partly to rescue him. His students have been well trained, and are older now, though still fraught with doubt and anxious about whether they are up to the situation. Their deadly enemies, the Ten Men, have escaped from prison, and are not only intent on finding them but also freeing their worst enemy, Mr. Curtain from his maximum security prison on an island just outside their home city of Stonetown. Mr. Benedict is there with him, the two locked away in separate but adjacent rooms. The Ten Men have a plan to break in, but so does the Benedict Society. Each side has information the other doesn’t, but things are made more complicated by two telepaths.
The Benedict Society are Reynie, a brilliant problem solver, Sticky, a science whiz, Kate, an action-loving secret agent-in-training and Constance, a troubled and angry girl with the ability to read minds. She’s angry because the Ten Men have also found a telepath, and the two of them are in a constant mental battle for information. These four are joined by a young boy, Tai, who has been sent to them for protection because he also has latent mental abilities that must be protected from the Ten Men.
The first half of this book is about the group regathering after going their separate ways for a while and relearning how well they can work together. Then plans must be laid, and clues sent by Mr. Benedict unraveled. Kate has an encounter with some of the Ten Men, who are dangerous indeed. The second half of the book is the caper, as the Society breaks into the prison with all the traps and tests of that before them and the Ten Men hot on their heels. It’s thrilling stuff, and beautifully plotted.
I like the characters and the writing of this series. There are some quirks: there are almost no guns in the world of the story except for one dart gun, and the violence is kept relatively tame, more a threat than a reality. Also, the pun-laced names of some characters and places are distracting at times. On the whole, this is good fun and entertaining for readers of any age. Recommended.
Reviews of previous books in the series: