Monday, 30 March 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Penultimate Peril, Chapter 10

I was doing pretty well at getting ahead of myself in preparation for the A to Z Challenge coming up. Hopefully I’ll carry on with these posts alongside my challenge ones. It’s going to be a very busy April!

We’re onto Chapter Ten of The Penultimate Peril now, having just witnessed the sad demise of one Dewey Denouement. Things are looking pretty bad for the Baudelaires, considering Mr Poe witnessed them holding the weapon that killed Dewey moments before he died.

What Happens?

The hotel guests all want to know what has happened as it soon becomes apparent that not only has someone died, but they were murdered as well. Mr Poe takes the children back into the hotel and everyone recognises the Baudelaires setting off cries of ‘murderers!’ There are a few people on the children’s side, like Justice Strauss, who arranges a trial for the Baudelaires and Count Olaf. They are then taken away and locked up in a room, for their own safety, until the trial can be arranged for later that day.

Thoughts as I read:

The image at the start of this chapter is kind of creepy looking. It’s a full page height one with a shady looking man wearing a long coat and a trilby hat. He’s smoking but the picture is black and white so we can’t tell whether the resulting smoke is green or grey. I’m not sure if this will be a good guy or a bad guy. There’s only one way to find out…

No sooner has Dewey sunk beneath the water of the pond do people start calling out of the hotel wanting to know what’s just happened. Apparently the people who stay in this hotel have fantastic hearing or perhaps they were all just staying up late reading. The people shouting about the harpoon gun and the splash have woken up the people who were actually asleep. Soon everyone is shouting about the murder which has evidently just occurred, even though only a handful of people actually witnessed it.

When the press, namely Geraldine Julienne, get involved, the Baudelaires decide to come clean and explain that there’s been an accident. This would probably fine if anyone actually believed that Dewey existed and wasn’t some mythical being. The fact that he’s body seems to have sunk isn’t likely to help at all.

Chaos descends:

“I didn’t realise this was a sad occasion,” said another hotel guest. “We should observe everything carefully, and intrude only if absolutely necessary.”
“I disagree!” said someone in a raspy shout. “We should intrude right now, and observe only if absolutely necessary!”
“We should call the authorities!” said someone else.
“We should call the manager!”
“We should call the concierge!”
“We should call my mother!”
“We should look for clues!”
“We should look for weapons!”
“We should look for my mother!”
“We should look for suspicious people!”

This prompts another outburst of people shouting about things that they’ve seen around the hotel which might be classed as suspicious. This includes many of the things that we’ve seen in the previous five chapters and results in the three people standing beside the pond being identified as being the murders, because who else would be standing there the way they are?

Sunny figures out what’s going on and says ‘Mob psychology’. It’s even getting to Violet who wonders aloud if perhaps they might be murderers after all. Her little sister is quick to say ‘Poppycock!’ which is translated as ‘Nonsense”. However they can’t escape the fact that they might be partially to blame and so begin to consider their options.

Violet points out running isn’t a good option because it will make them look guilty. And now it’s Klaus’s turn to worry about whether they might actually be murderers, leading them to wonder where they would go if they ran. The only place he can suggest is somewhere that they don’t know about V.F.D. and Olaf. That might be difficult. With one sibling advocating for staying another day and the other pushing for leaving now, Sunny says ‘Torn’ meaning ‘I see the advantages and disadvantages of both plans of action’.

And now it’s time to meet the guy from the picture at the start of the chapter. He asks them if they need a taxi. The children hesitate, after all, they haven’t got any money. Remember that question that the children have been asked repeatedly throughout the book, ‘Are you who I think you are?’ It’s Sunny who decides to answer, saying ‘We don’t know’. I wonder how being honest is going to work out for them now.

Before we can find out Mr Poe shows up wanting to know what’s happened to Dewey, and if he’s dead how it happened. Sunny’s response to this is ‘Henribergson’ meaning ‘It’s more complicated than that’. I did look up Mr Bergson, apparently he was a French philosopher. Mr Poe is thoroughly unimpressed with the children and all the trouble that they have been causing. He’s blaming their ‘criminal behaviour’ on their ‘broken home’. Since their parents died Mr Poe has largely been responsible for moving them from one broken home to another so I think he should shoulder some responsibility.

Mr Poe steers them back into the hotel and the taxi driver drives away. That’s an opportunity lost, or possibly a huge danger averted. We’ll never know, Snicket knows though:

I do know who the man was, and I do know where he went afterward, and I do know the name of the the woman who was hiding in the trunk, and the type of musical instrument that was laid carefully in the back seat, and the ingredients of the sandwich tucked into the glove compartment, and even the small item that sat on the passenger seat, still damp from its hiding place…

I’m guessing that’s where the sugar bowl has gone then. But Snicket believes that things would’ve been bad had the children gone with him, but I don’t think things are going to improve much for them in the next three chapters.

Inside the hotel lobby the children are immediately identified as both murders and Baudelaires. All the guests start calling things out about how the Baudelaires are, or aren’t murderers; how they were nice children and good students; how they are crinimals, the full works, which prompts another roll call from the people gathered:

“I think they’re guiltier than that!” said one of the hotel bellboys.
“I think they’re even guiltier than you think they are!” cried another.
“I think they look like nice kids!” said someone the children did not recognise.
“I think they look like vicious criminals!” said another person.
“I think they look like noble volunteers!” said another.
“I think they look like treacherous villains!”
“I think they look like concierges!”
“One of them looks a bit like my mother!”

And now it’s three o’clock. The children have been on the go for well over twelve hours now.

Justice Strauss has just shown up now which hopefully means that things will be sorted very quickly. Except that this is going to involve getting some other judges to help decide whether or not the Baudelaires are guilty. That’ll happen later that same day. It’s a little bit like the trial in the village all over again, isn’t it?

At least Strauss in on their side. She’s confident that her two other fellow judges will come to the right verdict. I wouldn’t be so sure, when has anything ever gone to plan in these children’s lives. Meanwhile the children are to be locked in Room 121 to keep them safe from the murderous mob who thinks they’ve been on a mad killing spree, Frank/Ernest is all set to take them away. On the one hand this is obviously a good idea to help them to survive until the trial, on the other hand, it kind of makes it look like the children might murder someone else so it’s best to keep them locked up so that can’t happen. Just saying. The people in the hotel seem to share my sentiments and still seem to think the Baudelaires are going to kill them all as they stand there!

Luckily Justice Strauss is all about equal rights and determines that Count Olaf should be locked up in Room 165 to keep him from causing any trouble as well. Frank/Ernest steps forward to deal with him. I think it would be better to just lock him up in a cage in the middle of the lobby so they don’t have to worry about anyone letting him get away.

Frank/Ernest takes the children away and installs them in Room 121, leaving them nothing else to do but wait and find out if Olaf will be found guilty, or they will.

And that’s where we leave them today, crying themselves to sleep.

This is not a happy ending.


  1. Neat idea, to describe what you think and feel as you read. :-)

    1. Thanks, I'm glad you like the idea.

      I'm planning on doing the Twilight books next. ;-)


Let me know what you think. :-)