Dan and Amy Cahill continue their quest to save their kidnapped relatives. But first they must rescue Atticus, who has been taken by Casper and Cheyenne Wyoming for being a Guardian. Atticus himself isn't even sure what being a Guardian means, though obviously people are willing to kill for it. However, he refuses to play the helpless victim and attempts to fight back.
The next step in the quest takes our heroes to Samarkand, Uzbekistan where Vesper One orders them to find a stale orb. These instructions are about as clear as a chocolate milkshake, but the Cahill team follows the clues to the Ulugh Beg Observatory. To add a bit more urgency to the task, Vesper One promises to kill one of the hostages if it isn't completed in four days --- and forces Dan and Amy to choose which one.
During their wild search, Dan receives another message from the mysterious AJT. Could this really be his father, who supposedly died nine years ago? These messages are driving Dan over the edge with speculation and anger. He doesn't know what to think, but he does know of one thing he must do --- continue collecting the ingredients to the secret formula --- and is almost halfway there.
Meanwhile, the captive relatives are getting desperate for action. Reagan continues with their physical training, but they are all itching to take a stand. Then Ted notices something with his keen hearing that just might help. They form a plan and execute it --- unfortunately to disastrous results. But the quick-thinking Nellie comes up with an ingenious idea of sending a secret message to Dan and Amy, which could give them a clue on their location.
There is a tornado of plots twisting around in THE DEAD OF NIGHT, and Peter Lerangis keeps the pages turning with tons of nonstop action and high-paced thrills. He ends most chapters with hold-your-breath cliffhangers that make it almost impossible to put the book down. He also creates vivid descriptions, utilizing all of the senses to bring the destinations to life. And in the middle of all the chaos and danger in these faraway lands, Dan and Amy are really growing as characters. Dan battles with the impossible to shallow chance that their dad may still be alive. He's angry, hurt, and trying to deal with the worst possible outcomes, while Amy struggles with the responsibilities of being the leader. It's tough to make life-and-death decisions, but she is learning and taking charge. Atticus, one of the newer characters, is blooming as well; the 11-year-old genius has lots of spunk and is full of surprises.
But it's not all gloom and doom. As in the earlier installments, Book Three has lots of funny parts mixed in with the addictive adventure, fascinating history and intriguing mystery. And it's not over yet! Roland Smith, author of the Storm Runners series, is taking over the next leg of the Cahills vs. Vespers race. The fourth book, SHATTERPROOF, will explode into print in September.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman