Title: The Viper’s Nest
Series: 39 Clues
Author: Peter Lerangis
ISBN: 9780545060479
Pages: 190 pages
Publisher/Date: Scholastic, c2010.

Amy heard a metallic ratchet noise. The Yugo skidded left, turning sideways in the road.
She watched in horror as its right rear fender smacked against the pickup.
“Dan!” she cried, racing toward him . . .
Her brother was trembling. Staring at the steering wheel of the stopped car.
In one piece.
Hamilton, Nellie, and Amy converged at the side of the Yugo. “I reset the mechanism,” Hamilton said. “It’s on a timer now. Three minutes. Take this. Go.”
He handed Amy a folded-up sheet of paper and sprang away, running across the street. “Move!” he shouted to his family. <"It's about to blow!" (81)

Amy and Dan have just witnessed the death of one of the opossing players on their hunt for the 39 clues. While fleeing from an errupting volcano, they realize their next clue follows the path of Winston Churchill and Zulu chief Shaka. What could these two people possibly have in common?Amy and Dan struggle to find the clue, but the Kabras are still intent on killing them, especially after their last escape. And are the Holts pairing up with Uncle Alistair to work against Dan and Amy, and prevent them from finding out what branch of the family they belong to?

This one is probably my favorite so far in the series, and I hope it’s not because I had an opportunity to talk with the author recently. Amy and Dan develop some real character in these books, and you see Hamilton Holt and Ian Kabra changing as they see what the hunt for the clues is doing to their parents and their lust for glory. Dan and Amy both have some great one liners, and I can appreciate Dan’s sense of humor more in this book. When Amy wins at a game of chess against a boy they’ve met along the way, Dan tells Nellie that “We have a few more minutes” and “He’s going to ask for a rematch.” When Nellie asks him how he knows this, Dan snipes back “It’s a guy thing!” (111) Amy especially develops some anger and and struggles to come to terms with the growing resentment towards her parent’s death and the other competitors.The clues presented in the novel do not require some superhuman knowledge of obscure facts, and both Amy and Dan read portions of their research material “aloud” so readers are privy to the same information. The suspense is riveting, with bombs, cave-ins, and volcanoes dominating the text.

The *one* complaint I have is that, as shown in the scene quoted above, Hamilton Holt hands Amy a folded up piece of paper, which is NEVER opened during the remainder of the story. COME ON! A rival team member who just saved your butts TWICE gives you a folded message that you don’t bother reading!?!? What even happens to it is a mystery, as it doesn’t get revisited and we’re not told what Amy does with it. Big loophole in the plot in my opinion.

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