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The Serpent Scenario: Spy High Mission Three    by A. J. Butcher order for
Serpent Scenario
by A. J. Butcher
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the 3rd adventure in the thrilling, futuristic Spy High series - think Karate Kids involved in Mission Impossible scenarios. (Note that the image here does not do the bookcover justice, as the fluorescent green highlights don't show.)

Spy High is not your usual high school. Funded by reclusive, super-rich Jonathan Deveraux, it's an academy for teen spies, teaching them skills from martial arts and computer hacking to psychological profiling. Bond Team's members are talented trainees, who recently won the 'Sherlock Shield'. But team ties are sorely stressed in this episode, which begins with the disappearance of Jennifer Chen into the Los Angeles 'Undertown', where she grew up. With a little help from his friends, Jake quickly follows her, to offer his love and support. Will Jen and Jake be expelled and mindwiped for skipping school?

Jen is after revenge for the murder of her family by Talon, a tattooed thug. Talon is now leader of the 'Serpent' gang, which terrorizes Undertown. Jen links up with old friend Kim, who supplies information, allowing Jen and Jake to create mayhem during a major Serpents drug delivery. But then comes betrayal and disaster. At the same time, the remainder of the Bond team are at the Stoker Institute. When they get way too up close and personal with 'Drac' addicts, there are serious repercussions for one team member. Drac is a vicious new drug that creates neo-vampires with a desperate craving for human blood, hence the name.

What happens in Undertown is the impetus needed to involve the remainder of Bond Team, who get into hot and heavy action against both Serpents and Wallachians. The latter have been moving into North America, pushing Drac. There's more than one capture and escape, tons of future-tech risky action, and an engaging banter between Bond Team members, who have very different personalities and backgrounds. And there's an evil enemy still to defeat, a descendant of Vlad the Impaler himself. I look forward to #4, The Paranoia Plot.

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