The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma Book Poster Image
Not as inventive as first two books, but still great fun.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids can solve the riddles and puzzles along with the super-smart members of the Society.

Positive Messages

Reynie comes to the realization that holding onto anger, like Mr. Curtain does, isn't healthy. Friendship and teamwork are also strong themes. Reynie also learns that he doesn't have to fix everything himself, and Kate realizes that she should trust her friends more before she acts impulsively. Two instances of eavesdropping are only lightly reprimanded.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As always in the series, the four members of the Society are very admirable and possess talents that complement one another. Reynie is extremely consciencious and great at solving puzzles and thinking about others' motivations. Sticky has a voracious appetite for knowledge and remembers everything he reads. Kate is the athlete and strategic thinker who can get out of any trap. Constance may be ill-tempered, but she's also loyal, bright, and courageous.


The bad guy Ten Men are back from the second book, and they attack with various weapons in their briefcases -- pencil darts, tranquilizer guns, shock watches (Tasers). But there's no real guns or blood (except a bloody nose). Kids are kidnapped, and a shock watch is used once, which makes the victim pass out. An adult breaks bones in a fall.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids who are already into the Mysterious Benedict Society series will find the third installment a little milder than the second. Armed with their briefcases filled with various weapons (but no real guns), Ten Men kidnap the four central kids, and there's plenty of fighting -- mostly amongst adults -- with pencil darts and tranquilizer guns. One adult suffers broken bones, and one kid gets attacked with a Taser-like shock watch, passing out afterward. Part of the plot involves Constance developing her powers of mind-reading and even putting thoughts in others' heads. Overall the main characters are still great role models -- they're smart, resourceful, great friends who work together to save the day.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCurrylou January 15, 2021

My favorite in the series!

I can not believe CMS would give this three stars! It is full of adventure, and it is fast paced and fun. A lot more action than the other two, but still good f... Continue reading
Adult Written byCristina williams September 8, 2020

Fantastic book

Third in the series, a bit scary, Constance the youngest in the team what's to be adopted, Mr. Benedict can't find her papers so he can legally adopte... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKoolGuyL March 10, 2011

Great Book!

I think this is a very good book. There are more puzzles to solve than in the last books! Unfortionately, the book dosen't get exiciting until the last hal... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 28, 2011

Great book!!!

This is a great book! It has great lessos and an excellent plot.

What's the story?

In the third installment of the Mysterious Benedict Society series, Reynie, Sticky, Kate, Constance, and various loved ones find themselves holed up in Mr. Benedict's house, which is teeming with security. The evil Mr. Curtain is at large and hunting for the Whisperer -- now in Mr. Benedict's possession -- so he can try again to control minds from afar. When a shady businessman shows up with false records that say he's Constance's father, it compels Mr. Benedict to use the Whisperer to uncover her short past. Distraught and confused after all is revealed, Constance runs away, with the whole household after her -- just the distraction Mr. Curtain and his men need to steal the Whisperer and set his evil plans in motion. Of course, the rest of the MBS soon find themselves on his trail.

Is it any good?

As with the other books in this inventive series, fans will be thrilled to spend more time with the MBS four. Kids who've read the first two books already know each character's strengths and quirks. As always, Constance provides the majority of the book's humor with her mood swings and unruliness that will remind kids of younger siblings. Constance is also the only one who develops more as a character in this one. Her mind-reading/changing abilities really come in handy in a pinch.

But the story takes awhile to get going (the first 100 pages could have been condensed to 20), and there's no travel adventure (The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilious Journey) or brainwashed island school (The Mysterious Benedict Society) to add that extra layer of intrigue. And we already know all about Mr. Curtain, his Ten Men, and what they're after. A few more surprises and twists would have been welcome. Not that the simpler story will keep fans away -- and once the action picks up in the last third, kids will definitely be engaged.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reading minds. Would you like to know what others are thinking? Or be able to change their minds without them knowing? How is this a potentially dangerous gift?

  • Talk about the puzzles. How long did it take to piece together the clues?

  • Which MBS member are you most like? Are you agile and resourceful like Kate? Great at solving puzzles like Reynie? Good at remembering everything like Sticky? Or stubborn and in need of a nap like Constance? Whom would you like to be more like?

Book details

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