Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Review: Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Title: Who Could That Be at This Hour?
Author: Lemony Snicket
Genre: Children's Mystery
Rating: 5

I must admit that this is the first Lemony Snicket book I have picked up to read. Despite having considered his much-acclaimed Series of Unfortunate Events on more than one occasion, I have yet to read them because they seem a bit too depressing for my taste—which, I suppose, is exactly the point.

I espied this little novel, perched as it was among a hundred other books in the center of a crowded bookstore shelf. As usual—and highlighting a rather common fault of mine—it was the book’s cover which got my attention. This is the first in a proposed series called ‘All The Wrong Questions’, and I plan on reading the sequels.

My first impression upon reading the opening chapter was this: Mr. Snicket is a fast-witted, clever writer. His jokes come quick and subtle, just so that you can hardly begin to smile before he whirls you onward. But they come so frequently that you end up grinning from ear to ear.

This is, presumably, the story of Snicket himself as a thirteen year-old Spy. Or Detective. Or both, or neither one at all. And maybe he’s just bored. (In which case, I, as a writer, would definitely love to be a Detective or a Spy, both of which are decidedly not boring.) Snicket is a boy full of secrets, a boy learning more secrets, and a boy who has been without a root beer float for far too much time. When he becomes entangled with a case that might not be a case, involving a statue which may or may not have been stolen, and two strange girls who might be his friends or his enemies, Lemony works the whole project around the confines of his position as an ‘apprentice’, outmaneuvering his chaperone by leaps and bounds.

This is a quirky tale on the whole, although many things surrounding Snicket’s work and background are left up to the imagination, and there is one section in which the author—or the character, take your pick—delves into a rather melancholy and depressing view of the meaning and results of life.

Intelligent, full of word-plays and clever quips, this is a fabulous little mystery. I must also add that the main character appears to be quite the book reader himself, and is frequently found discussing the merits and faults of a variety of well-known stories. (One in particular, I must say, I disagree with him on entirely.) I would heartily recommend Snicket’s mystery to all willing readers of any age.

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