Ahhh, here we go book six and well, simply put, things just keep getting worse for the Baudelaire orphans. This time around they are sent to a very "IN" part of town to live with their new guardians, Jerome and Esme Squalor, at 667 Dark Avenue in the penthouse apartment, on either the 48th or 84th floor. (Here's a spoiler, it actually turns out to be the 66th floor, the average of the 2).
The Squalors are very snooty people who only desire what is "IN." When the orphans arrive at the building they find that darkness is in and elevators are out. So not only do they have to climb the stairs, to what is later learned to be the 66th floor, but they have to do so in darkness. Upon arrival we find out that Esme Squalor is the 6th most important financial advisor and is only interested in the orphans because orphans are now in. Jerome is the one that takes an interest in the children and is pleased to have them around. But, he is kept busy by Esme who is getting ready for the "In Auction" in which all things "In" will be auctioned and the money will go to her bank account. So they all sip aqueous martinis (water with an olive in it) and talk about in things, like pin-striped suits.
Once again Count Olaf makes his entrance into the 71 bedroom (and many other types of rooms) apartment, but he's an invited guest. Invited under the guise of Gunther the In Auctioneer. In discovering what Olaf's plan is we learn what the word ersatz means. That is one thing I like about Lemony Snicket, he has a way of having the reader learn something without really knowing.
This book has many comic relief moments. This time most of them take the form of the words uttered by Sunny Baudelaire the baby that is no larger than a salami. In previous books Sunny only spoke in nonsensical syllables. In this book, however, her syllables start to make sense. Typically Sunny says words like; ayjim, puictiw and chittol, but every once in a while her dialogue is sprinkled with words that make sense. My favorite is when the orphans all go and try to find something to use as a rope to climb down an elevator shaft. (Ignore the previous sentence if you don't like spoilers.) Klaus comes back with curtian cords, Violet comes back with extension cords and each describe the item they found. Sunny offers up an armful of Jerome's neckties and says, "Armani." I found myself laughing out loud to that one.
Another thing I should mention is that the Quagmire triplets are still missing. At least for a little while. The Baudelaire orphans find the Quagmires and attempt a rescue. But alas, it fails and Olaf gets away. That doesn't really give anything away, after all the end is not the goal in these books. The journey is what makes Lemony Snicket's books worth reading.