Sunday, February 26, 2023

Book Review: City of the Dead by James Ponti (City Spies #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong action, characters, humor
Cons: One issue didn’t strike me as realistic.  (I know, I know)
The Bottom Line:
A museum heist
Starts next twisty adventure
Will please all readers

Breaking into a Museum is Only the Beginning

I have begun to really look forward to my yearly visit with the City Spies.  This series is a delightfully fun spy series for middle graders and anyone else smart enough to pick it up.  City of the Dead is their fourth adventure, and it’s another page turner.

If you’ve missed the series, it features five young teens who are part of an experimental program in MI6.  They are living in Scotland and being trained to be super spies.  And, when duty calls, they are putting their training into action in places where adults might stand out but kids would be overlooked.  And the team name City Spies?  Each of them has picked a city of the world to use as their code name.

As this book opens, the team has been tasked with breaking into the British Museum and retrieving a couple of items from their exhibit on Egypt.  These are sensitive items that the government doesn’t want to officially ask for back and doesn’t want to admit they even have.  But the mission is not all it appears to be.  What will happen when the team learns the truth?

Yes, I’m being very vague with my teaser.  That’s because it really is best to watch this book unfold as unspoiled as you possibly can.  There are some delightful twists and surprises.  I was engaged the entire way as I watched the team try to figure out what was really going on so they could stop it.  There were several times I was turning pages as quickly as I could to find out exactly what was going to happen next.

I will say there was one thing that struck me as off in this book, and that was how quickly an issue of trust was resolved.  I know, I know, I’m reading a book about young spies, but I’m letting this trip me up.  Trust me, it is minor.

I keep using team in my review, and there is a reason for that.  One thing I have loved about this series from the beginning is just how much of a team these characters are.  They all have their strengths, and it takes all of them to complete their mission.  Yes, some of them shine more than others in this book, but they all contribute something.  And they are all distinct characters who continue to grow.

Along with the action and characters, we get some humor.  The characters all clearly love each other, and that comes through in their good-natured teasing.  Additionally, we get some laughs at the situations the characters find themselves in.

This book ends with a cliffhanger, and that’s made me even more impatient for the next in the series to come out.

If you are looking for something for your middle grader to read, I can’t recommend this series highly enough.  I bet you’ll enjoy it, too.  City of the Dead will please fans of the series and help hook new readers on the fun.

Book stops with the rest of the City Spies series.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays.


  1. Looks like a fun read, for middle graders and their adults!
    Have a good week!

  2. I visited several museums in Balboa Park, San Diego, yesterday so I love to fantasize about breaking into museums at night. Though that book isn’t really directed at me. I love the movie “Topkapi” that does that theme so well.

    best… mae at

  3. I love this. I will have to recommend it to my sister who teaches middle grade.

  4. IWhat a thrilling and intriguing series. Sounds like something I should introduce to my great grandson in the next year of so. I really like books with great plots and adventures too! Great review!

  5. Love this series although I have several more still to read. Thanks for keeping us up to date and Happy MMGM!

  6. I generally avoid books with kids as spies because they just don't make sense to me, but it seems like this series might handle the problem of kids being spies in a believable way. The series sounds fun. I'll try to check them out. Thanks for the review.

  7. Nice review. Sounds like an intriguing plot and memorable characters. Carol Baldwin

  8. I keep meaning to read this series! Thanks for reminding me about it.


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