"I saw her smile, shadowy in the moonlight. It was a smile that might have meant anything."
In the All the Wrong Questions series, the acclaimed author of the bestselling (despite his dire warnings) An Unfortunate Series of Events, gives a "highly autobiographical account" of LEMONY SNICKET and his rather peculiar adventures when he was "almost-thirteen." But fans of the previous series looking for answers to unanswered question may have to look elsewhere. Although there seem to be allusions to the saga of the troubled siblings, this new proposed quartet of novels "takes place at a time before the Baudelaire children were born."
Just as the earlier series tweaked and teased and gleefully knocked the slats out from under Charles' Dickens in particular and gothic novels in general, this new series seems to be having a jolly good time at the expense of hard-boiled and noir crime fiction. Lemony's certainly got the patter down.
The unreliable narrator, the shape-shifting digressions, the open-ended questions and bizarre characters will all be familiar turf to Snicket's fans, but the patina of tough-guy tone and noirish angst adds a whole new slant to the proceedings, an alternately jaded but whimsical blend of Raymond Chandler and Douglas Adams, as young Lemony "ibegins his apprenticesship as an operative in an agency nobody knows about, under the tutelage of his mysterious chaperone S. Theodora Markson, she of the ancient roadster and the long flowing hair, whose favourite methods of teaching are "example and nagging." She also has a predeliction for big words, which she feels obligated to define immediately after using them, much to Lemony's exasperation.n a fading town, far from anyone he knew or trusted,"
"I know what pendant means," he pouts at one point.
But then, Lemony knows far more than he seems to. Maybe. His letter of introduction allows that he's "an excellent reader, a good cook, a mediocre musician and an awful quarreler," although it turns out Lemony never wrote the letter -- or was even supposed to know its contents.
That's just one more mystery within a mystery here as Lemony Snicket begins to investigate, seeking, as is his wont, "all the wrong answers to all the wrong questions."
But as our intrepid hero/sleuth/narrator says at the very begiining of his adventures, "Knowing something is wrong and doing it anyway happens very often in life, and I doubt I will ever know why."
Get 'em while they're young. A suggested reading list.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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