Iestyn Davies (pronounced YES-tin DAY-vis) is a countertenor, which means he sings in s striking falsetto (especially when you hear his deep speaking voice). Davies sings three songs from Elizabethan composer John Dowland. Joining Davies is Thomas Dunford, who has been affectionately dubbed “the Eric Clapton of the lute” by the BBC. They play this early music and it sounds amazing (I am super impressed by his voice, but the lute blows me away).
The songs are very melancholy about lost love. Like this wonderful line that would make Morrissey jealous: “I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die/In deadly pain and endless misery” (all done is in a staggering falsetto in a beautiful ascending melody).
He plays three songs (none of which had I heard before) “Come again, sweet love doth now invite,” “Now, O now I needs must part” and “Can she excuse my wrongs.”
I loved listening to these and to watching the lutist wail on that instrument.
[READ: May 25, 2014] Shatterproof
Much to my discomfort, this series is getting darker and darker. I’m almost not sure if my 9 year old is ready for the intensity (and the death) in this book.
While there was real danger in the first series, people we know have actually died in this one. And there is another (shocking) causality in this book as well.
As soon as the four kids (Amy and Dan Cahill and their friends Atticus and Jake Rosenbloom) land in Germany, they are set upon by police. Since the four of them are wanted by Interpol, they assume that they are caught, done. But it turns out that these are not real police, they are employed by Vesper One, to let them know that he knows exactly where they are. And to give them their next clue.
Which is that they must steal a diamond from a heavily guarded museum that is about to close in two hours.
Meanwhile Hamilton and Phoenix are still tailing Luna Amato. They are being assisted by Erasmus who is really calling the shots and using the boys as a kind of decoy. Luna seems oblivious to the pursuit, which makes Erasmus even more suspicious. So while the boys follow her, Erasmus sneaks in to what he believes is a Vesper stronghold.
The other real plot in the book coes from the prisoners. The clever Cahill clan has devised a way to get out of their prison cell. And it works–at a price. Although their story evolves over the book, suffice it to say that they do escape, but at the risk of losing one of their number and at Nellie getting bitten by attack dogs. By the end of the book, some of them have been brought to new facility where the consequences are all the more severe.
But back to the diamond heist.
Dan and Atticus work well at getting into the heavily guarded museum. They enter separately so as to avoid suspicion of four kids together. And while Dan scopes out the security around the diamond, Atticus uses his contacts (real and imaginary) to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the security area. But the kids’ plans do not work as planned because something has been planted on Amy. So although she intended to create a diversion, the diversion that happens is not what she intended. Soon, guards are everywhere and just as the lights go out we see that real Interpol agent Milos Vanek has just spotted Dan.
By the time the dust settles, the kids have escaped, but without the diamond. However, they did manage to steal some ID from Agent Vanek, which helps them get around a little more easily. Until he tracks them down again. It is here that they tell Vanek about Luna and where she can be found. Since he knows Luna is the real criminal he happily pursues her and lets the kids stay unguarded for the time being.
Meanwhile back home in Attleboro, things are coming to a head where someone in the house seems to be a traitor–Vesper One knows everything about what the kids are doing the information can only be coming from Headquarters. And, as Ian is the most unpleasant (and Dan and Amy’s cat Saladin dislikes him so much), he is the likely culprit. Is this just a Macguffin?
Back to Dan and Amy. They assume that their failure in collecting the diamond means that someone will die. But it turns out that they were actually being used as a distraction for Vesper to steal the diamond while the kids were in trouble. And so now, the kids are off to Timbuktu on the most wild goose chase yet–to find a manuscript in an unspecified library in a country with hundreds of them. They gain new allies and possible enemies all to wind up face to face once again with the Wyoming twins (who play a much bigger role in this series that I expected).
As the adventures in Timbuktu, which are frustrating but ultimately satisfying, conclude, their message appears in an extremely unlikely and extremely unwieldy place which I really enjoyed reading about. The final thirty pages were very exciting as all of the pieces fell into place and the kids realized that there must be a traitor in their midst and that one of the hostages in missing and that they are told they have 24 hours to get back to the United States.
Book five of six is next.