Illustrated by Seth
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Match wits with Lemony Snicket to solve thirteen mini-mysteries.
Paintings have been falling off of walls, a loud and loyal dog has gone missing, a specter has been seen walking the pier at midnight — strange things are happening all over the town of Stain’d-By-The-Sea. Called upon to investigate thirteen suspicious incidents, young Lemony Snicket collects clues, questions witnesses, and cracks every case. Join the investigation and tackle the mysteries alongside Snicket, then turn to the back of the book to see the solution revealed.
A delicious read that welcomes readers into Lemony Snicket’s world of deep mystery, mysterious depth, deductive reasoning, and reasonable deductions.
Table of Contents
A Sneak Peek of “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”
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Please find enclosed herein seven (7) reports filed under "Suspicious Incidents" in our archives. The seven (7) reports have seven (7) conclusions which have been separated from their corresponding reports for security reasons. The reports are contained in sub-file One (1) and the conclusions in sub-file B (b) so that it is impossible for each report and conclusion to be in the same place at once. For your convenience, both sub-files are enclosed together here.
The information contained herein is secret and important, meant only for members of our organization. If you are not a member of our organization, please put this down, as it is neither secret nor important and therefore will not interest you.
All misfiled information, by definition, is none of your business.
Sub-file One: Reports.
Violent Butcher. Twelve or Thirteen. Midnight Demon. Three Suspects. Vanished Message. Troublesome Ghost. Figure in Fog.
It seemed as good a day as any to go to Black Cat Coffee, one of Stain'd-by-the-Sea's last businesses and certainly its most unusual one. There was a girl who spent a lot of time there, drinking the strong, bitter coffee served up by the place's enormous and elaborate machinery. The girl was Ellington Feint, and she's a long story all by herself. I hadn't seen her in quite some time, and I thought Black Cat Coffee was my best chance of spotting her. But as soon as I hit the corner of Caravan and Parfait, I knew I'd walked into a different story altogether. My path was largely blocked by a large man sitting largely on the curb. He was reading a magazine and wearing an apron, although he was such a big man that it looked like he was reading a matchbook and wearing a handkerchief. Normally, I don't like to use the word "mountainous" about a person, but this man was so large, and his shoulders so peaked, and his beard so rough and scraggly like a grouping of trees on his chin, that he actually looked like a mountain. I didn't have the proper equipment to climb him, so I tried a different approach.
"Excuse me," I said, but the man shook his mountainous head.
"Sorry, chief," the man said. "I can't let anybody in here. You shouldn't drink coffee, anyway. It's bad for you."
"It's bad for you if you never do anything bad for you," I said, "but I'm not here for coffee. I'm looking for someone."
"Well, I'm looking for someone, too," the man said, "and until I find who I'm looking for, I can't let you in."
"Maybe I can help you," I said. "I've been known to find a person or two. It's more or less my job."
"My job's being a butcher," the man said. He pointed to his apron, which I now saw was quite stained, and held up his magazine, which I now saw was called Read Meat. "My name's Mack. I used to work over at Partial Foods, but now I'm freelancing. I don't know you. Usually I don't like people I don't know, so why don't you skedaddle? I can't let anyone in here until I find the kid I'm here to find."
"Maybe we're looking for the same person," I said.
He looked interested, but not mountainously so.
"Maybe," he said.
"Mine is a girl," I said. "A little taller than I am, with black hair, green eyes, and unusual eyebrows."
"Wrong," the man said, with another gigantic shake of his head. "Mine's a boy named Drumstick, and he's preternaturally short, with curly red hair and extremely normal eyebrows. I don't know what color his eyes are, because I never noticed. He's my son and I need to find him."
"Preternaturally" is a word which here means "extra." I was beginning to preternaturally dislike this butcher. "What makes you think your son is at Black Cat Coffee?"
"Because I saw him run right in there."
"Why did he do that?"
"For the reason that I was chasing him."
"Why were you chasing him?"
"For the reason that I would hit him with this magazine," Mack said. "Drumstick was a very bad boy today. I told him to stick around the house and not go outside, and then he kept getting in my way and wouldn't leave. I yelled at him about it for around an hour, and then he told me he was going to take the train into the city to live with his mother. She's a butcher, too, but not as good with venison. He took all the money he's earned repairing women's shoes and ran out the door. I chased him here."
"Why did you stop at the door?" I asked, hoping the answer was "Because I realized I was doing something wrong."
"I got real tired," the man said instead. "Now I'm just going to wait him out. He can't stay in there forever."
"I don't see why not," I said. "There's bread and coffee, and a piano that plays lonely tunes all by itself."
"Say, I have an idea," Mack said, leaning in close to talk quietly. His breath was warm and full of meat. "Why don't you go in with me? If I go in alone, I know he'll slip away. He moves quick as a game hen. But two of us could corner him. If you help me out here, I'll give you a rack of lamb."
"No, thanks," I said, thinking that it wasn't a good day to go to Black Cat Coffee after all. It was a good day to sit at the library by myself and fill my head with something other than the story of this family.
"Nothing I can say to convince you?" Mack asked.
"I'm afraid not."
"You ever get hit with a magazine?" Mack asked me. His voice was friendly enough, but he was rolling Read Meat up into a mean-looking tube. "They say it stings something awful."
I looked up and down the empty streets. "Well," I said, "you've convinced me."
"Thattaboy," Mack said, and rose up from the sidewalk like a new volcanic island. He lurched through the door with thattaboy following glumly behind. Black Cat Coffee looked the same as always and as empty as usual, but even when the place was empty, it was usually loud. The vast, rackety machinery which produced Black Cat Coffee's only refreshments was completely still, and the piano which usually played melancholy tunes was closed and quiet. It was quiet enough that I stopped to listen for a moment. Then I walked up to the counter and looked at the three buttons the place had instead of people who worked there. If you pressed the C button, the shiny machinery behind the counter whirred into life and brewed a single cup of coffee. The B button produced a small loaf of hot, fresh bread, which I liked much better. The A button activated a folding staircase which clicked into place so you could walk up to the attic, which was a good place to hide secrets. If I were Drumstick, I thought, I'd hide in the attic. I would also change my name.
"I thought I heard a crash after my son ran in here," Mack said, and headed over to peer behind the counter, and I peered with him. There were cups and saucers stacked up on shelves, and a surprising mess on the floor. Someone had overturned a dented metal trash can, which lay on its side surrounded by bread crusts, glass bottles, a cracked flowerpot, and what looked like a flattened clump of tissue paper. But there wasn't a preternaturally small boy with curly hair and eyes his father should have looked at. If you look someone in the eyes, really look at them, you are much less likely to hit them. You are less likely to even think of it.
- *Literary allusions and witty wordplay abound as expected, with the added fun of getting to play detective."—Kirkus
- "The actual puzzles are dandy, and the format is ideal for the author's approach of comic avalanche."—The Horn Book
- "Each mini mystery--just a few pages long--is chock full of wordplay, clever dialogue, noir references, and red herrings....By the end, not all mysteries are solved, nor all questions answered; whodunit aficionados will want to revisit again and again."—School Library Journal
- "Snicketeers will relish the chance to revisit Lemony and several familiar characters."—Booklist
- On Sale
- Apr 1, 2014
- Page Count
- 80 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers