FICTION

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

illus. by Seth. 272p. (All the Wrong Questions: Bk. 2.5) Little, Brown. 2014. Tr $12. ISBN 9780316284035.
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Gr 4–6—In his signature Snickety style, the author of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins) and creator of that oddball little town known as Stain'd by the Sea offers 13 case files reminiscent of Donald Sobol's Two-Minute Mysteries (Scholastic, 1969). Set in the same locale as the previous installments in the "All the Wrong Questions" titles and starring a young Lemony Snicket investigating strange occurrences as part of his apprenticeship for a shady "secret organization," this companion book can be enjoyed by die-hard fans as well as readers new to the series. Each mini-mystery—just a few pages long—is chock-full of wordplay, clever dialogue, noir references, and red herrings. The short chapters end with a cliff-hanger and kids may consult "Sub-file B" at the back of the work to see how the brilliant young detective solved the crime. Black-and-white illustrations highlight key details and provide a few subtle clues along the way. Though there is a narrative thread connecting the individual tales, readers can also delve into the separate cases one-by-one with equal enjoyment. By the end, not all mysteries are solved, nor all questions answered; whodunit aficionados will want to revisit again and again.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
Kid-detective Lemony Snicket treats us to thirteen short mysteries (missing newt, ghostly appearance, series of break-ins) in which he leaves readers poised just before the reveal, with a chance to solve the mystery themselves before they flip to the back of the book. (It's Encyclopedia Brown for Snicket-Hipsters.) The actual puzzles are dandy, and the format is ideal for the author's comic avalanche.
The fictional kid detective known as Lemony Snicket, introduced in "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" (rev. 1/13), is still living in Stain'd-by-the-Sea. In this collection he treats us to thirteen short mysteries (missing newt, ghostly appearance, series of break-ins) in which he leaves readers poised just before the reveal, with a chance to solve the mystery themselves before they flip to the back of the book to be impressed by the workings of Snicket's little gray cells. This is Encyclopedia Brown for Snicket-Hipsters, and Snicket (the writer) pays respectful homage to his tradition by naming the veterinarians in town the Doctors Sobol. The actual puzzles are dandy, and the format is ideal for the author's approach of comic avalanche. (Sometimes ten pages is all one can take at a sitting.) Bonuses include searching for weird details in Seth's illustrations and trying to identify the many sly references to books and movies: "Only a dozen sledders competed in this year's race down Homily Hill for the Ethan Frome Festival. Organizers said attendance at the auction was also a disappointment, despite such distinguished items as an oil painting of Gary Dorian, Stain'd-by-the-Sea's famed cosmetician." A surprisingly lyrical final chapter is steeped in noirish melancholy. sarah ellis

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