This is my least favorite book in the series, and sadly, it's also the last one I read, so I didn't end the series on a high note. It still wasn't a bad book though, just an okay one.
Basically, Blair keeps getting up in the middle of the night, insisting there's a giant dog that keeps visiting him. It turns out he's telling the truth; it's not a dream after all, and the enormous dog is soon named Nightmare. Hence the pun in the book's title.
Much of the book revolves around the dog. Things such as who Nightmare's former owner could possibly be, where he came from, and how he got there are all things the kids wonder about, and get answers for. Then there's the problem of keeping the dog safe, feeding him, and making sure the parents don't find out about him.
There's two subplots. One involves a bully, Pete Garvey, who is made out to be a real threat to David, before he begins to change and takes a genuine interest in the dog. He finds himself over at the Stanleys' house a lot, helping out with things, while David continues to distrust him.
The other subplot involves escaped convicts. While there's a lot of talk about the convicts, and Janie gets her start in Kid Detective
work (before taking a larger role in book 4, Janie's Private Eyes
) trying to learn about them, their role in the plot is rather strangely handled. Yes, they do eventually show up, but I have to say it was one of the oddest and least exciting encounters I'd ever read. The criminals in books 2 and 4 were far more of a threat and more interesting. And without giving away anything, let's say that the dog is involved with the convict subplot as well.
The thing is, I'm just not that interested in the dog. I'm not a fan of "animal" stories, and this is pretty much one of them. The escaped convicts were a subplot I'd have liked to see more of, and they were pretty underused. The Pete Garvey subplot dominated the story otherwise, and I found it okay.
Really, if it weren't for the characters and some good moments with them, I simply wouldn't have liked this book. The story just didn't get my attention that much. The characters salvaged it, however, raising my opinion of this book to "average".