Book Review || All the Wrong Questions: “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”

Author: Lemony Snicket

Young twelve-year-old Lemony Snicket is in a tearoom, with his “parents”, when a particular woman with particularly wild hair drops a particular note into his lap.

Climb out the window in the bathroom and meet me in the alley behind this shop. I will be waiting in the green roadster. You have five minutes. — S 

When Lemony climbs into the roadster after exactly five minutes: one to find the note, one to walk to the bathroom, one to wait for a man in the bathroom to leave, and two to set up a ladder, unlatch the window, and to jump out into the alley. The woman introduces herself as S. Theodora Markson. She is his chaperone, and, as she keeps reminding Snicket, he is only her apprentice. Things immediately start going downhill when he learns they will be working not in the city where he expected, but in a town named Stain’d-by-the-Sea, which is no longer by the sea, seaing seeing as it had been drained to save the town. He immediately encounters a mystery… one dealing with the stolen statue of the Bombinating Beast, a mythological sea monster. But once Snicket investigates a little more, he realizes that there is more to this seemingly simple case. He meets a young journalist, Moxie Mallahan, who becomes his constant friend, and two younger boys, Pip and Squeak, but most interestingly of all, a mysteriously mysterious girl named Ellington Feint, who likes coffee and has secrets. He realizes others are out to get the statue of the Bombinating Beast as well— if not for the reasons he thinks. Snicket does find the statue, and soon loses it. He trusts the wrong people, asks the wrong questions, and in the end, is betrayed. Now he has become immersed in the mystery in ways he never imagined and must hurry to save his friends.

Simply put, this. Book. Is. Amazing. Lemony Snicket has done it again! If you, like me, adored his A Series of Unfortunate Events, then you will love this book just as much. (Note to self- review A Series of Unfortunate Events.) The setting is as quirky as possible: a town that used to be by the sea but now isn’t, a town which is slowly emptying as its inhabitants move away. And the characters are among the most eccentric and interesting I have read about in a while. Secondly, Snicket’s signature style of word-play and witty sentences is wonderful and keeps you engrossed, maybe a little confused (but in a good way), and eagerly turning pages…. “They say in every library there is a single book that can answer the question that burns like a fire in the mind.” The mystery of the story— ah, the infamous stolen statue!— is a winding, complex one, and this noir novel ends in a cliffhanger that leads you to wonder: Have you been asking the right questions?