November Book Club: Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

WHO COULD THAT BE AT THIS HOUR? is the first in brand-new series ‘All the Wrong Questions’ from Lemony Snicket, taking us back to the narrator’s youth as a thirteen-year-old apprentice working within a secret organisation. Tasked with recovering a stolen statue from an old woman in the abandoned and mysterious town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea, Snicket soon discovers that what is apparently ‘stolen’ is quite probably not, that he is not asking any of the right questions, and that indeed nothing is quite as it seems …

Watch the video below to hear what we thought about it!

Who could that be

 And now, bearing in mind the trickiness of getting the questions right in the first place, here are some questions to get you going with discussions about this book. We’d love to hear from you!

In a rare interview, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) talked about his esteem for writers of the noir genre and his own desire to write in this style, saying, ‘I really had to think about what makes noir tick. Getting the mechanics right, the details and the ambiguous atmosphere, is very challenging for a writer. Noir needs to be tight and coherent.’ What tropes of the noir genre can you identify in this book and how successful do you think Snicket is in achieving a noir atmosphere in WHO COULD THAT BE AT THIS HOUR?

  • Lemony Snicket is celebrated for his plot ingenuity, his wordplay, his humour – but what serious or thought-provoking points or themes, if any, are to be found in WHO COULD THAT BE AT THIS HOUR?
  • Some readers have criticised Snicket for the lack of warmth and heart in this book, compared with A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. Did you find that to be the case – or did you find young Snicket’s emotional journey in the book a compelling one?
  • How did you feel about the ending – was there enough there to satisfy, or did you feel that there were too many questions left unanswered?
  • How important do you think it is to have read A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS before reading this book? In what ways does a knowledge of that series enrich and enhance the reading of this one?
  • So, what do you think the ‘S’ stands for?


Did you enjoy WHO COULD THAT BE AT THIS HOUR? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!

In December we’ll be reading John Masefield’s THE BOX OF DELIGHTS! You can follow along on GoodReads and keep an eye out for a more detailed blog post about why we picked this book next week.