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"When Did You See Her Last?"

"When Did You See Her Last?" Bk. 2. illus. by Seth. 277p. (All the Wrong Questions Series). Little, Brown. Oct. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-316-12305-1; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-316-22503-8. LC 2012955921.
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Gr 4–6—In this follow-up to "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" (Little, Brown, 2012) 12-year-old Lemony Snicket is an apprentice in a mysterious organization and still stationed in Stain'd by the Sea with his stern and unimaginative chaperone, S. Theodora Markson. (Readers still don't know what the S. stands for.) Lemony and his mentor have been assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Cleo Knight, a brilliant chemist and daughter of the richest couple in town. Markson is content to believe the far-fetched theory that Miss Knight has run away to join the circus and considers the case closed. Lemony is convinced that the girl's disappearance is connected to a string of recent crimes in town and believes that only one man can be responsible: the villainous Hangfire. With a little help from his friends (most of whom are familiar faces from the first book), Lemony sets out to find Miss Knight himself and to stop Hangfire and his dastardly accomplices in their tracks. While the abundant wordplay and several unanswered questions may trip up some younger readers, Snicket goes to great lengths to keep his audience up to speed, recounting backstory and defining advanced vocabulary in a way that is never patronizing, and is in fact fairly humorous. The author's trademark wit and talent for sustaining suspense make this fast-paced, noir mystery a fun choice for kids who enjoy a good whodunit. And for the faithful fans of Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins), this is a must-have.—Liz Overberg, Darlington School, Rome, GA
A further adventure for the young private eye Lemony Snicket involves the disappearance of Cleo Knight, a brilliant young chemist who is the only hope for the rejuvenation of the moribund town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea. Snicket's dim adult associate S. Theodora Markson thinks the case is solved, that Knight has run away with the circus. Snicket knows better. In the course of his investigation he reconnects with kid-journalist Moxie Mallahan, the Bellerophon brothers, and a number of other characters from his previous case, Who Could That Be at This Hour? (rev. 1/13). And while dropping more hints about his own mysterious family background; demonstrating his gift for deadpan; and musing on such topics as the zen of lock-picking and the pointlessness of honeydew melons, Snicket also confronts the bad guy and solves the mystery. Reading this second adventure is like playing a combination of Clue (was it Dr. Flammarion with the hypodermic syringe in the Colophon Clinic?) and a children's literature version of Trivial Pursuit, as the text is peppered with references to classic children's books. Final art unseen. sarah ellis

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