How many mysteries lurk in the no-longer-seaside town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea? Thirteen.
Collected herein, only for members of a certain secret organization (for nonmembers: This is a blank book; please move along), are 13 short investigations by young Lemony Snicket from the days of his apprenticeship in the increasingly deserted and mysterious town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea. The remaining residents, having heard of his investigations, bring him cases: Rare amphibians have gone missing; family heirlooms have been stolen; missives have been momentarily mislaid. Is there a demon on the docks at midnight? Is there a ghost haunting Old Lady Mann? As he ruminates, which here means to contemplate rather than to chew repeatedly, over the larger mysteries left in the wake of his previous investigations, Snicket solves small cases; readers can match wits as the solutions are only presented in a subfile at the volume’s end. Snicket (the author, aka Daniel Handler) gifts fans of his All the Wrong Questions quartet of tongue-in-cheek noir mysteries with a Volume 2.5 that expands the setting and characters of the main series while offering an homage to Donald Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown. Literary allusions and witty wordplay abound as expected, with the added fun of getting to play detective.
Fans can still look forward to Volume 3 of All the Wrong Questions, coming in October 2014: fabulous (which here means “very good” rather than “not real”). (Mystery/short stories. 8-14)