In Too Deep — “39 Clues” Series


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Book Review

In Too Deep by Jude Watson has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the sixth book in the “39 Clues” series.

Plot Summary

In The Maze of Bones, the first book of the series, Amy and Dan’s grandmother dies and leaves them with a choice. They can inherit a million dollars or have the opportunity to search for 39 clues that, once found, will make them the most powerful people in the world. Amy (14), her brother, Dan (11), and a number of their corrupt relatives have chosen to hunt for the clues.

In book six, Amy and Dan travel with their au pair, Nellie, to Sydney, Australia, to meet a man named Shep, their father’s best friend and cousin. He tells them what their parents had been doing prior to their deaths. Isabel Kabra, a Cahill aunt and the mother of their cousins Ian and Natalie, follows them and steals Amy’s necklace. Before she leaves, Isabel tells Amy that they’ve met before.

At a museum, Amy and Dan find a picture is missing in a line of convict mug shots. The convict is Bob Troppo, a member of the Ekat branch, whom they believe will lead them to the next clue. They also believe that Isabel stole the picture on her way out of the museum. Amy begins to remember details from the night when she was 6 years old and her parents died in a fire. She remembers voices that she had forgotten and the faces of family members she has been meeting on their quest. Ian calls to inform her that her parents’ death was not the accident she remembered it to be — it was murder.

Irina, a KGB agent who works with Isabel to track the children, takes Amy to the basement of a pub. Irina warns Amy to not trust Isabel as she is the one who murdered Amy’s parents. Later, Isabel accuses Irina of the same crime. Isabel threatens to feed Amy to the sharks if she does not share the clues she’s already found. Before Amy provides any information, the Holt family, relatives the kids previously formed an alliance with, rescues her. Amy decides not to tell Dan about either woman’s accusation.

Shep flies Amy, Dan and Nellie to Coober Pedy, the home of Bob Troppo and also one of the final places their parents visited. In Troppo’s home, they find a drawing by their mother that leads them to a clue at the base of an opal mine. Isabel arrives and drops spiders and a poisonous snake down the mineshaft in an attempt to kill the children. Irina sees what is happening and changes her mind about helping Isabel. Her own son died while following Isabel’s instructions — she is not about to let that happen to Amy and Dan. She waits for an opportunity to help the children and prove her allegiance to them.

Shep is getting ready to fly Amy, Dan and Nellie to Java, Indonesia, but is detained by authorities when Irina accuses him of kidnapping the children. Nellie flies the plane instead, and the children begin to wonder about the many skills of their au pair. She seems trained specifically for the job of taking them on this adventure.

Amy and Dan ditch Nellie at the hotel and hire a boat to take them out to Krakatau, a volcano where Troppo did much of his work. Because the volcano is active, they are unable to go ashore. Instead, they travel to a remote island that is believed to be the home of a man living in isolation. Here they find their cousin Alistair waiting for them. They are surprised to see him because they believed he had died in a cave back in Korea. Alistair shows them a poem containing the next clue. He stole this clue from their parents on the night of the fire. Isabel tracks the children to the island and sets fire to the house where they are staying with Alistair. Irina also follows them there and risks her life to save Amy and Dan. She dies in the fire, Alistair wanders to the other side of the island, and the children are left wondering who in their large and devious family is safe to trust. They decipher the clue from the poem that Alistair gave them. The clue is the word water.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Amy carries an old necklace that belonged to her grandmother. The keepsake allows her to feel her grandmother’s presence and connect with her relative’s courage. Vikram teaches his son, Ian, that the only important thing in life is to win. Shep refers to Amelia Earhart as speaking to the kids from her watery grave. Alistair reminds them that being ruthless may sometimes be essential in their quest for clues. Amy and Dan feel the presence of their deceased parents. The ghost of Irina puts responsibility for finding the clues on the kids.

Authority Roles

Nellie is good to the kids but is easily distracted. She enjoys her naps, and the children use this as an opportunity to sneak out unsupervised. She assists them in their adventures; however, they are growing suspicious of her. Her skills allow her to do more than most au pairs. She is in very good physical condition and unexpectedly knows how to fly an airplane. The kids break into Nellie’s email to try and find her true identity, but can’t. Uncle Shep has not been in touch with the children since their parents died and admits to not being the fatherly type. He risks his life multiple times to protect the kids. Isabel Kabra is not kind to her children and will put them in harm’s way if it helps her to successfully complete her mission. She will stop at nothing to destroy Amy and Dan. Irina Spasky is trained by the KGB in Russia and has committed many crimes. Amy and Dan are uncertain of whether to trust her. By the end, she proves that she wants to help them rather than destroy them.

Profanity & Violence

Dan says he saved Amy’s sorry butt. He also refers to Aunt Beatrice as The Bloody and as an idiot. Natalie refers to Irina as a hateful witch. Dweeb is used on multiple occasions. Dan refers to Isabel’s children as the “hounds of suck.” The children visit The Justice & Police Museum, which contains weapons from crimes, including a knife with bloodstains.

Irina uses poisoned needles to threaten Amy and leads her to a deserted basement. Isabel threatens to feed Amy to the sharks, and she tosses bloody fish parts into the water to bring them to the surface. She later drops spiders and a deadly snake into the mineshaft where the children are searching for a clue.

Sexual Content


Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments

Lying: The children become proficient in lying about their travels in Australia. Shep asks them multiple times what they are up to, and they lie to him so often that when they finally tell the truth, he doesn’t believe them. Dan admits that the Cahill family philosophy is to tell lies all the time. This is not seen as a negative but something that is just accepted by the family.

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