Book review: Lemony Snicket's 'Who Could That Be at This Hour?' brings mystery, imagination young reader

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 1:28 p.m. MDT

Lemony Snicket's new book is Lemony Snicket's new book is "All the Wrong Questions: Who Could that Be at This Hour?" (Meredith Heuer)

"ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS: Who Could That Be at This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket, Little, Brown and Company, $15.99, 258 pages (f) (ages 8-14)

From the author who gave us A Series of Unfortunate Events comes Lemony Snicket's first book in his new All the Wrong Questions series, "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" This wonderfully illustrated depiction of Snicket's juvenile adventures begins with a somewhat mysterious, albeit befuddling start.

Snicket begins this series at the curious age of twelve and soon finds himself being escorted to an old seaside town called Stain'd-by-the-Sea where he begins an apprenticeship with a self-proclaimed veteran detective by the name of S. Theodora Markson. Snicket soon learns of a mysterious object called the Bombinating Beast that has seemingly been stolen from its rightful owner. Snicket's quest to return the statue to its rightful owner brings more mystery and intrigue to the town itself.

"All the Wrong Questions: Who Could that Be at This Hour?" is the recently released book by Lemony Snicket. (Little, Brown and Company)

Snicket does a masterful job of placing the reader in the classic detective, film noir era. But Stain'd-by-the-Sea is no ordinary dilapidated seaside town. There is much for the imagination here with many questions raised to the reader, with few answers, and one cannot help but think that this discombobulating dilemma is by design.

The book does not end with a climax, nor a cliffhanger, but leaves you aching, bereft and without resolve. To be honest, I expected more — or I should say, I wanted more. Snicket throws the reader into the middle of a story within the first few chapters by showing Snicket's perplexing predicament. And one cannot help but think that it is by design. In a way this book is neither a beginning, nor an end and I'm thinking that is just how Snicket wanted it.

The books to come will bring a beginning and an end to this playful and innocently sinister series. Personally, I found this first installment to be a little slow with a weak ending, however, it's important to remember that this series is aimed for children between the ages of 8 to 14. What is great about "Who Could That be At This Hour?" is that it gets the reader thinking and opens the imagination with little to no inappropriate content. In fact, the only possibly inappropriate content I found was the theme of theft and, in context, was not offensive.

For the middle-grade reader who seeks imagination and adventure, this book could be the beginning of quite the mystical excursion.

If you go ...

What: Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) reading and book signing

When: Saturday, Nov. 17, 6 p.m.

Where: Rowland Hall, 843 Lincoln St., Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Notes: Tickets required. Those who purchase the new book from The King's English receive one ticket for the event and signing line. Add-on tickets, for additional guests, are available at the time of initial purchase, for $5. He will sign every copy of "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" and one older book from home and up to two other titles purchased at the event.

Rob Johnson is a product manager for the Family Media Guide at OK.com.

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