I don’t know what made me pick up Lemony Snicket’s latest book, Who Could That Be at This Hour?, the first volume in the new All the Wrong Questions series. Maybe I was in the mood for something completely different from anything I’d read recently. Maybe I wanted to be totally befuddled. In any case, different and confusing is what I got with this book. The writing is kind of standard Lemony Snicket fare–it feels like the author is talking directly to the reader, and there’s quite a bit of sarcasm and understated humor involved. The main character’s voice–in this case, Lemony Snicket himself–is very distinctive and engaging. The story itself also captivates the reader. At its core, it is a mystery, but I must admit that nothing is really solved in this book. In fact, so much remains hidden at the end, that the reader absolutely MUST read the next book, or he/she will remain in a state of confusion for the foreseeable future. (I have no idea when the next book will be out, so, of course, my confusion remains.)
Who Could That Be at This Hour? follows a young Lemony Snicket and his mentor, S. Theodora Markson (we don’t know what the S stands for), as they attempt to solve a mystery in a nearly abandoned town, Stain’d-by-the-Sea (which is not “by the sea”). It is unclear just what Lemony is supposed to learn from Ms. Markson, but it is abundantly clear that he knows much more–about everything–than his mentor. He figures out pretty quickly that all is not what it seems to be when it comes to this mystery, but he can’t put his finger on what’s going on or what he can do to solve this case. Maybe he’s asking the wrong questions…
Lemony Snicket’s own past is also a prevalent mystery in this book. Where are his parents? Why is he an apprentice to Theodora? Who–or what–did he leave behind when he ventured on his current quest? What is his end-game?
In any case, this book is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and readers will spend the entire book wondering what in the world is going on. Who is the true owner of the object–a rather unimpressive Bombinating Beast statue–that Lemony and Theodora are trying to recover? Who really hired them in the first place? Well, that may be kind of complicated, and, even though some questions may be answered in this book, they’re probably the wrong ones. Readers will have to stay tuned to learn more about Theodora, Stain’d-by-the-Sea, the Bombinating Beast, and what’s really going on with young Lemony Snicket.
For even more confusion and more wrong questions, check out this book trailer from Egmont for Who Could That Be at This Hour? It captures the tone of this book perfectly.