Can an apprentice in a certain secret organization keep his associates safe and save a dying town—or is that one of the wrong questions?
Someone has set fire to Birnbaum’s Sheep Barn, a local business, and Lemony Snicket’s clueless chaperone, S. Theodora Markson, takes the case. But the client is the heretofore unheard-of department of education of Stain’d-by-the-Sea (a town with only one school). Snicket strongly suspects that the villain Hangfire is behind the arson; when local librarian Dashiell Qwerty is framed for the crime, Snicket is certain his suspicions are correct. But why would Hangfire burn down a sheep barn? After the school burns, Lemony Snicket and his young associates plot to save Stain’d-by-the-Sea’s children and the rest of its structures from Hangfire and the total numbskullery of the adult population. Some questions are answered, and still more are posed in Lemony Snicket (the author)’s third All the Wrong Questions tale. Lemony Snicket (the character) continues to worry about the sister he left in the city (she has now been arrested) and whether he can save (and in some cases trust) his young associates. Seth returns to add occasional spooky, intriguing bicolor illustrations. Linguistic play and literary allusions abound in this smart, slyly humorous noir thriller.
Fans will be over the moon, a phrase that here means exceedingly pleased. (Mystery. 8-14)