The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

A couple of months ago, I blogged about how much I enjoyed the first two books of The Mysterious Benedict Society, and I recently got to read the third book in the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

If you’re not familiar with the “prisoner’s dilemma,” it’s a problem involving two prisoners who are physically separated and offered a deal by their captor to betray their fellow prisoner and get off scot-free. The book opens with Sticky and Kate in one room and Constance and Reynie in another, in a “prisoner’s dilemma” type of test supervised by Rhonda Kazembe, one of Mr. Benedict’s assistants. They had three options:

(A) If both teams remain silent, all of them receive extra kitchen duty for one day.

(B) If both teams betray each other, all of them would receive extra kitchen duty for one week.

(C) If one team chose silence and one team chose betrayal, the traitors would get of free while the other team would be kitchen slaves for a whole week!

Of course, the group manages to think of an ingenious way to get around the mechanics of the game, but little do they know how much the lessons to be learned from the exercise would come in handy for the events about to unfold in this crafty new adventure for the Mysterious Benedict Society.

In this conclusion to the trilogy, the evil Ledroptha Curtain returns to take back the Whisperer from the Mysterious Benedict Society headquarters, where Mr. Benedict has been using it to restore the memories of the people it has brainwashed.

Curtain breaks down the defenses of the headquarters with a surprise attack that forces the household apart.

The bond that holds the Mysterious Benedict Society together is tested as Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance get within the cluthes of Curtain’s henchmen, and the four must devise a way to save themselves and their mentors, learn to make individual decisions, and learn to trust each other in the most compromising situations in order to triumph against their enemy, once and for all.

All the pieces fall into place in this third novel, giving it that “final book” feel, and it’s  a great way to wrap things up, but I really would hate for the series to end here. Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance really came alive for me, and after three books in the series, they feel more like old friends than characters in a book.

I like how the four kids show tremendous growth throughout the series — Reynie learns to share the burden with the rest of the team; Kate learns to master her reckless impulses; Sticky learns that intelligence isn’t everything; while Constance learns to deal with her true identity and her newfound skills.

I’ve had a great time reading this series, and I do hope Trenton Lee Stewart keeps the adventures of The Mysterious Benedict Society coming.


The Mysterious Benedict Society books are available at National Book Store.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma, hardcover with dustjacket, 4/5 stars

Book #55 of 2010



10 thoughts on “The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma”

  1. ooh ooh I love this series! I have the first 2 rin but havent had the chance to read the next one yet. hi hi blooey!!! longtime!

    1. The Ledroptha story ends in Book 3. I do hope they have another adventure after that. And I hope it’s adapted into an animated series — that would be awesome!

  2. Thankfully a fourth book was written. It is called The Extraordinary Education of Nicolas Benedict. By Trenton Lee Stewart. It is a prequel that was a joy to read.

    1. I hope the Nicholas Benedict story is continued; it left quite a bit hanging in the 4th book and I wanted the story to go on.

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