Who Could That Be at This Hour?

Lemony Snicket, illus. by Seth. Little, Brown, $15.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-12308-2
Snicket, author of the wildly successful Series of Unfortunate Events stories, returns with the first in the projected four-volume All the Wrong Questions series, supplying "autobiographical" accounts of his unusual childhood. Nearly 13 when the book opens, Snicket is beginning his apprenticeship for a mysterious organization under the tutelage of dimwitted S. Theodora Markson, who is ranked dead last in effectiveness by the agency but who may be the source of Snicket's tic of defining vocabulary pedantically, a word which here means, oh, never mind. Unlike Snicket's Unauthorized Autobiography (HarperCollins, 2002), which left readers as uninformed about him as they were before they read it, this account reveals that Lemony is "an excellent reader, a good cook, a mediocre musician, and an awful quarreler." Not mind-blowing, but it's a start. And perhaps not true. Straight answers are hard to find as Snicket and Markson investigate a theft in a seaside town that's been drained of its sea, encountering deception and double crosses at every turn. Full of Snicket's trademark droll humor and maddeningly open-ended, this will have readers clamoring for volume two. Ages 9–up. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2012
Release date: 10/23/2012
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