The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (Book Two)

Jun 23

This is the second in a series of four books:

  1. The Mysterious Benedict Society (Review)
  2. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (Review)
  3. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (Review)
  4. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (Review)

The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Perilous Journey is the second in a series of four books by Trenton Lee Stewart. The first book review on The Mysterious Benedict Society is here — you should really read that review first, it has all the details of the characters involved and terms involved, this series has a lot of back stories which may make this review make less sense without the first one.

 

New characters introduced in this book:

    • Moocho Brazos — Moocho Brazos is a friend of Kate’s from the days when she was in the circus. He was the circus’s Strong Man and looked every bit the part with his “enormous muscles, slicked-down hair and handlebar mustache,”  and yet has a “soft, melodious voice”  and wears a flowery apron over coveralls and house slippers. He is kind and loyal to Kate and Milligan. He is extremely strong and loves to bake pies, and is very good at it; he is a fantastic chef and baker. Moocho works on the farm with Kate and Milligan, taking care of a plethora of things.
    • Madge — Madge is the peregrine falcon Milligan gave Kate as a birthday present. Kate has trained her and she follows Kate just above everywhere. Madge is extremely intelligent for a predatory bird and very fast (peregrine falcons are the fastest creatures on earth — reaching over 200 miles per hour when flying towards prey).
    • Mr. Washington — Sticky’s father. Mr. Washington looks a lot like Sticky, just taller. He is tall, slender, and wears glasses. He doesn’t talk much but smiles a lot and is fond of the children and shows them by patting them on the shoulders. He is attentive to his wife and worries excessively, with her, about Sticky’s safety and well-being. Having forced Sticky to compete for money in intellectual competitions pressuring him to runaway — he is very sensitive to Sticky’s needs and not asking too much of him. The Washington’s spent all their money and even went into debt to find Sticky and bring him home. This has left them in financial ruin.
    • Mrs. Washington – Sticky’s mother. Mrs. Washington is “a short woman with walnut-colored skin, narrow shoulders, a rather pouty mouth, kind and gentle eyes and troubled knees which requires her to mostly be wheelchair bound. She can walk but not well and not for long. Because of her (and her husband’s) past with Sticky, she is extremely concerned and over-protective of Sticky.
    • Miss Perumal — She is not new but she has now become Reynie’s adopted mother. She is also known as “Amma”.
    • Pati — Miss Perumal’s mother. Pati is hard of hearing. She is loving and kind but sorta clueless because she cannot hear what is going on.
    • The Old Hag — This terrifying old woman hunches at the end of the bed after a particularly nasty nightmare, lurking and frightening Mr. Benedict (and countless others), usually this hallucination is accompanied by paralysis, leaving him (and anyone else who has this hallucination) helpless and terrified.
    • Mr. Bane — A government agent posted at Mr. Benedict’s house to help protect “The Whisperer”. He is a stern man, short with an unpleasant expression and a raspy, sharp voice. He is particularly displeased with the children and often refuses to even address them at all, and when he does, he is condescending, rude and disgruntled.
    • Ms. Argent — Another government agent posted at Mr. Benedict’s house to help protect “The Whisperer”. She is a silver-haired friendly woman who takes her job very seriously.
    • Ten Men— The Ten Men (formerly Mr. Curtain’s Executives) are called Ten Men because they have ten different ways to hurt you. As executives they had watches that shocked their victims, as Ten Men, they have a briefcase full of torture devices — such as lethal ties and exploding pencils. These men are particularly cruel and mean. They dress up in pin-stripe business suits, carry their briefcases and wear a lot of expensive cologne. The Ten Men we are introduced to in Book Two:
      • McCracken: The leader and most formidable. Brawnier than any other Ten Man, he is described as having piercing blue eyes and shoulders like bedside tables. His feathered hair is brown and always perfectly coiffed (in the chapter illustrations he is depicted as having it slicked back). McCracken has access to a couple of weapons that the other Ten Men do not, and he seems to be the only one who is a match for Milligan and the only one ever to outsmart Reynie.
      • Garrotte: Garrotte is usually the one who drives the vehicles. More often than not, he will be the one driving the Salamander, fake ambulance, etc. Described as having a beard and a face like a bat.
      • Crawlings: Often scolded for being too careless. Indeed, because of his carelessness, he has lost one of his eyebrows. His remaining eyebrow is emphasized more than any other feature to define his expression. Bald.
      • Sharpe: Garrotte’s usual partner. Once knocked unconscious by Sticky with his own drugged handkerchief. Wears glasses.
      • McCraig: One of the Recruiters guarding the Whisperer’s computer room when Kate is in the elevator shaft.
      • Mortis: Cornered the foursome at a hotel in Thernbaakagen.
      • Bludgins: Never seen, but referenced by McCracken. Evidently Bludgins was in charge of the messenger pigeon.
    • Weapons used by the Ten Men:
      • Laser Pointers: Perhaps the most dangerous device carried by the Ten Men. These fire a real laser that can set buildings on fire and cut clean through human skin, both of which have been done numerous times. The drawback is that the pointers can only be fired once every twelve hours, as that is how long they take to recharge. It is never specified how many seconds one shot can last.
      • Handkerchiefs: Carried in the Ten Men’s breast pockets, these are soaked in a sedative drug and have only to be pressed against a victim’s mouth or nose for them to be knocked out for quite a while.
      • Neckties: While they look like normal striped business ties, concealed on the tip of each one is a metallic fringe that recalls a bullwhip; indeed, that is exactly what the ties are used for – whips.
      • Chewing Gum: This is gum laced with poison. Never actually seen or used; referenced one time by Kate.
      • Pencils: Virtually indestructible, these pencils are razor-sharp and used on countless occasions. The Ten Men can throw them so quickly that you never know what it is that they threw until you’re impaled.
      • Letter Openers: Extremely sharp, they are stored in leather sheathes and can be very hazardous.
      • “Pandora’s Box” = Only used by McCracken. This is a large decorative cigar box that some hideous creature is inside of making clicking and scraping sounds. It is used as a threat and an incentive to talk.
      • Clipboards: The purpose for these is unclear. It can be assumed that they are quite hard and might be used to bludgeon victims.
      • Ink Pens: Unknown purpose. Never used, only seen once. Hertz raps Kate on the head with a gold pen, and Sticky says it sounds like he hit her with a lead pipe.
      • Index Cards: Airborne projectiles.
      • False Teeth: Again, only used by McCracken. After losing several teeth in a fight with Milligan, McCracken has them replaced through “black-market dentistry.” His new teeth are removable and, when squeezed, will grow a serrated edge of miniscule razors.
      • Staple Removers: Described as looking like metal piranhas, but never expanded upon.
      • Briefcases: Every Ten Man carries a briefcase. Along with the pinstriped suits they wear, the briefcases complete the businessman guise. They are surprisingly heavy and solid, and one can hear an evil humming sound coming from inside of them when they are filled up. Occasionally, these are used as clubs and often as shields.
      • Shock-Watches: These were the original weapon of choice for Recruiters. One bulky silver wristwatch is worn on each arm. The use of them is always accompanied by shaking the wrists to loosen the watches from the man’s suit cuffs. As an electrical whine fills the air, the Ten Man holds his hands out, palms forward, in a calming gesture. Suddenly, charged wires flick out of each watch and shock the victim into unconsciousness. In The Mysterious Benedict Society, it was observed by Mr. Benedict’s followers that Constance, after being stunned by the shock-watches, became very woozy, her body emitted strange crackling noises and her hair stood up.
      • Exploding-Calculators: The screen of the calculator counts down the time before the explosion.
      • Paperclip Chain: These are perfectly unbreakable to the human by the human hand, because they were made of high-tensile metal. They are used as restraints.
    • The Guards posted at the door of the chamber where the Whisperer is held: — Russ, a burly guy and an unnamed guard who is helpful and somewhat friendly.
    • Joe Shooter a.k.a. Cannonball — Third Officer on the MV Shortcut, the fastest cargo ship in history about to make its maiden voyage from Stonetown Harbor to Lisbon. This ship is the first of her kind, special hull design, special jet propulsion system reaching upwards of sixty knots. This ship can cross the Atlantic in two days.
    • Captain Phil Noland — Captain of the MV Shortcut and friend of Mr. Benedict, an old navy friend who Mr. Benedict saved his life.
    • Mr. Pressius — A wealthy businessman with a trunk full of diamonds he is transporting with him on the MV Shortcut. He has numerous guards and is very bossy. The boat had to leave behind important staff members to accommodate for Mr. Pressius’ guards leaving Captain Noland and his crew very busy and distracted.
    • Sophie — The helpful librarian at science museum in Thernbaakagen.
    • Mr. Schuyler — The not-so-friendly or helpful librarian at the science museum in Thernabaakagen.
    • Hubrecht and Daatje — Hotel clerks. Hubrecht was delighted and intrigued, he had been given instructions to give to the children. Daatje, on the other hand, was not so helpful and reports the children’s arrival to the Ten Men.
    • Mr. Risker a.k.a. Han de Reizeger — “a slump-shouldered man with a face as round as a clock and covered with dark stubble dressed in dirty fisherman’s clothes and black hair streaked with gray hanging in long greasy strands over his face.” He was hired by Mr. Benedict to give the children a ride to Mr. Benedict’s unnamed island. He never got the opportunity to do so because the Ten Man found him first and took him as a prisoner, sabotaging his boats.

New Terms:

  • The Salamander — An amphibious vehicle — “picture an armored boat with tank treads. Fast on land, even faster on water with lots of rooms for the Ten Men and prisoners.” It also has the capability to be driven remotely and to be completely silent, though it is not normally quiet but rather loud and frightening sounding.
  • Noise Cancellation Device — A device invented by Mr. Curtain that nullifies all sound in its immediate vicinity.
  • Duskwort a.k.a. Translucidus somniferum A plant believed to be extinct since ancient times. “It was supposed to be extremely powerful–the slightest taste of it could put people to sleep–and it was often considered the stuff of legends… powerful but fragile, it only grows in certain unique conditions, and if removed from its native environment, will disintegrate.” Mr. Benedict and Mr. Curtain’s parents were researchers who also suffered from narcolepsy. They believed duskwort to be a cure for narcolepsy. And thus, Mr. Benedict was doing research on it and Mr. Curtain wants to get his hands on it.

 

In the second book of the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey the children are invited to visit Mr. Benedict for a surprise. It has been one year since Kate, Reynie, Sticky and Constance met and formed the Mysterious Benedict Society and for months they hadn’t seen each other or had a mystery to solve. Life was getting boring for the young adventurers. In this book, we start to see the characters grow. They are trying out new behaviors and seeing what fits and what doesn’t. This makes for interesting twists we might not expect. A surprise is planned for the children and all the adults are being hush-hush about it. Until, a message arrives via a carrier pigeon from Mr. Curtain informing them that he has taken Mr. Benedict and Number Two hostage and will only release them if they bring the plant. No one knows what this means.

So, the children set off to follow the clues Mr. Benedict left for them for their surprise. They hope this will lead them to clues about what Mr. Benedict was working on and where Mr. Curtain took him and what this plant is that he so desperately wants. They have to sneak past the adults, the government officials and get on a boat to sail across the ocean to start their journey.

There are diamonds, and fakes, and bullfrogs, a captain and friend of Mr. Benedict, Captain Noland, which may or may not be trustworthy. Along the way, the children meet more than a few unsavory characters—some greedy and selfish, some mean and dangerous, and each one becomes an obstacle to finding Mr. Benedict and the plant Mr. Curtain seeks. They also meet some helpful, friendly people along the way. Each step of the way they have to decipher a new clue, riddles galore—working their way to a mysterious island where chaos breaks out, tempers are flared, personal limits are pushed and danger lurks around every corner.

This book is an exciting second book in a fantastic, creative series. Well worth the read! Like the first book in this series (and all the rest) I read this book aloud to others. It is a fun and exciting read for one or more people.

 

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