Friday, January 10, 2014

The 39 Clues: Cahill Files: Spymasters by Clifford Riley: Book Review

The 39 Clues: Cahill Files: Spymasters
Author: Clifford Riley
Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2013
Age level: 8-12, Middle Grade
Pages: 250

The 39 Clues: Cahill Files: Spymasters continues the Cahill family saga and the secrets they have guarded for generations. Their enemies, the Vespers, are constantly on the prowl searching for artifacts, documents, and other items capable of causing grave harm in the world. Three stories are told.

In the Redcoat Chase, twelve-year-old Frederick is sent on an important Cahill mission. America is at war (1814) with Britain. Frederick must locate the map to Gideon’s ring. Frederick races to the White House on horseback, chased by a Redcoat Vesper. Frederick meets the first lady and both are nearly killed in the search.

In The Houdini Escape, young Harry Houdini is a poor immigrant’s son in New York City (1891), earning little performing magic tricks. Overhearing a man bullying his ailing father (a Cahill descendant), Harry confronts a powerful Vesper named Zoltan. Instead he is kidnapped, bound, and thrown into the harbor. Cleverly skilled with ropes, Harry easily escapes. Zoltan captures him again and threatens to kill Harry’s family, unless he agrees to steal a valuable museum artifact. Harry agrees, performing his greatest magic trick yet. 

In The Submarine Job, fourteen-year-old Fiske Cahill rushes to help his sister. She is guarding a ring the Vespers desperately want. The year is 1955. Fiske takes the ring and goes undercover as the grandson of an admiral. He boards the USS Nautilus, the first ever nuclear submarine, and heads for safety in Puerto Rico. However, an undercover Vesper also boards and Fiske must fight for his life.

Readers can learn more online and continue the popular adventure with the game cards provided. Having jumped into the middle of this series, it was not clear to me what exactly the 39 clues are. Riley seems to have deviated from the original quest, but maybe it doesn't matter. The 39 Clues: Cahill Files is an entertaining read, a good adventure story for boys especially, and full of historical references (at least in this edition).

Copyright 2014 © Sharon M. Himsl


  1. These books are so popular at my work! I have yet to read any of them, though...I really should try it out, it seems like such a cool series!

    1. No time like the present :) The series was new to me!

  2. Good review! When I worked at Barnes and Noble these books were really popular :)

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

  3. Wow, I had no idea it was so popular. Thanks!


"Stay" is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary
(A.B. Alcott). Stay and visit awhile. Your comments mean a lot to me.