Title: Beyond the Grave
Author: Jude Watson
Year of Publication: 2009
Series: The 39 Clues: The Clue Hunt
Goodreads Rating (Avg.): 3.92
Goodreads Rating (Mine): 2
Plot Description: The Cahills are in Egypt, being clueless tourists and searching for statues of Al-Sakhet. Amy is still moping about Ian’s betrayal, which is silly, because there’s so much more betrayal to look forward to. (In relationships in general, as it is with the Clue Hunt in particular.)
It was revealed early on the books that the Cahill family consists of four distinct lineages descended from the four original siblings: Luke, Thomas, Katherine and Jane Cahill. Each branch specializes in something or the other – the Lucians are cunning and well versed in cold logic, ruthlessness and spycraft. The Tomas are athletic, and possessed of a slow and reliable intelligence. The Ekats are inventors possessed of great ingenuity. The Janus are the artsy ones. Amy and Dan are the only ones who are unaware of what branch they come from – their beloved grandmother Grace did not deign to tell them anything about the Cahill family, let alone what branch they’re descended from.
In each book, a new stronghold is discovered – and promptly broken into. It was Lucian in the first, Janus in the second, an ancient Tomas stronghold in the third, and now Ekat in Egypt. Amy and Dan’s dismay at not knowing their lineage only grows with each book, as they rue the number of disadvantages they’re saddled with as a consequence.
“It had been a seven-year string of bad luck, ever since their parents died in that house fire. How were Amy and Dan supposed to do this alone? The Kabras had money. Their parents supported them. Plus, they were working with Irina. The Holts were a whole family. Jonah Wizard had his dad planning every moment of his life. It was Amy and Dan against… families. Teams. Generations. They didn’t stand a chance.”
– The Sword Thief, Peter Lerangis, The Clue Hunt #3
Then there is the phrase they heard right in the first book: “Beware the Madrigals.”
Who the mysterious Madrigals are is unclear, nor is it particularly explained why they are so dangerous. But Amy and Dan finally get a firsthand look at Madrigal handiwork when they find that the clue they’re hunting in this book has been defaced and destroyed.
An interesting aspect of plot development is that every betrayal or otherwise act of violence perpetrated by one of the teams actually becomes a significant pivot that enables their characters to feel remorseful, and therefore take a 180 degree turn by the end of the series. Redemption is on the cards for (almost) all of them.
It would have, however, been great if Irina Spazky’s redemption wasn’t based on the latent maternal instincts that Amy and Dan evoke in her. Yes, truly, it would be nice to have a bloodthirsty Russian spy who switches sides because of some reason other than that she’d been a mother once upon a time. Also, Irina’s “spiritual experience” inside Nefertiti’s tomb sounds hella weird, and once again, smacks of the Oriental mysticism trope to me.
Pet Peeve: Also, can I just say that Saladin is the most unrealistic cat, ever? He behaves more like a dog than a cat. None of the cats I know would pass up the opportunity to take off once they’re anywhere in the great outdoors (with or without a healthy dose of panic on the side.)