Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012. 978-0-316-12308-2
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Lemony Snicket is about to embark on a train journey to the other side of the city when a mysterious woman slips him a note in the train station tea shop telling him to sneak out the bathroom window. The two then drive to a town that is no longer by the sea to retrieve an item that was not actually stolen and in arriving, uncover an even greater mystery than the one they were hired to solve.
Why I picked it up: One of the local bookstores has a recommendations page filled with books chosen by fourth to ninth graders as their current favorites and this was one of the selections.
Why I finished it: Snicket’s first series (A Series of Unfortunate Events) came on to the scene after I had moved on to YA literature, but his name and books are still popular among tween readers and easily recognizable as a prolific storyteller. His latest work is an interesting twist on the classic mystery tale, adding a sort of film noir element to the tale that reminded me a lot of The Maltese Falcon in that we have several characters looking for the same thing that is inextricably valuable and at the same time quite dangerous. Lemony, as a narrator and the protagonist of the story, is well-spoken and clever, making him the perfect detective, yet the same cannot be said for his mysterious companion whose first name is a letter. Both the reader and Lemony are a little fuzzy as to if that letter stands for anything, but in the grand scheme of things, is probably largely unimportant. As the story unfolds, the reader is introduced to a cast of unique citizens that inhabit a town that used to be next to an ocean before it was drained and the rather curious circumstances that lead to our narrator’s arrival. It is perhaps these circumstances that are the catalyst for the events in the book, but I think it’s a little early to make that judgment, being as that this is the first book in what promises to be an intriguing series that will have its readers looking for clues and putting together the pieces of the puzzle right along with the narrator.
Other related materials: When Did You See Her Last? (All the Wrong Questions, Book 2) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Seth; A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket; The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket; The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Carson Ellis, music by Nathaniel Stookey; 13 Words by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Maira Kalman; A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hugh D’Andrade; In A Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hugh D’Andrade; The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch