Despite initial assurances to GiGi that she’d be working from home base, book 4 of the Specialists series, Native Tongue, finds her preparing to go on her 4th mission, this time to South America to use a computer program she developed to translate some cave hieroglyphs that are supposed to reveal which of 15 indigenous tribes gets a vase said to have magical powers. Linguist Parrot, a Native American himself, is going along as the official translator. And wouldn’t you know it? One of the tribal elders, Talon, is an evil human trafficker from Parrot’s past and he has his own plans for the mystical vase.
In many ways, this was probably my favorite installment of the series so far, maybe because I relate to it the most. I’ve never been to modeling school (Model Spy) broken into a museum (Down to the Wire), or been to a cheerleading camp (The Winning Element), but I have ridden a horse named Diablo through the South American jungle! I was totally hooked by the linguistic aspect of the book. I envy Parrot’s ability to pick up languages so easily – it took me years to master Spanish and German – and although I could once get by pretty well in Japanese, I only have enough for party tricks now. Parrot gets a really cool language lab at the Specialists headquarters (all of the Specialists get their own tricked out labs) – it’s the one I covet the most for sure.
I also really like the way GiGi has developed as a character throughout the series. Once wholly absorbed in computer coding and not very social, she is now dating one of the other Specialists and has a flirt with Professor Quirk, a fellow blond genius who is charged with helping her translate the cave paintings. Her relationship with Parrot felt very authentic and it was sweet how she went out of her way to comfort him, something I couldn’t have imagined earlier in the series.
The mission itself wasn’t my favorite though (Down to the Wire wins there) because I never got a sense of what could happen if the mystical vase fell into the wrong hands. I mean obviously I was rooting for them to take down Talon, but I would have liked a tad more urgency.
I am very eager to read book 5, especially due to the teaser at the end regarding a possible relative of GiGi’s. I hope I will not have to wait too long for it to come out.
This is really an exciting series and one that anyone with a sense of adventure can enjoy.
Discussion question: What special ability do you have that the Specialists team could use to fight international crime? Both serious and wacky answers are accepted in the comments :)