November 25, 2013 • Cee • Reviews

lemonysnicket-tcidThe Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket
March 3, 2009
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There’s dreadful news from the symphony hall—the composer is dead!

If you have ever heard an orchestra play, then you know that musicians are most certainly guilty of something. Where exactly were the violins on the night in question? Did anyone see the harp? Is the trumpet protesting a bit too boisterously?

In this perplexing murder mystery, everyone seems to have a motive, everyone has an alibi, and nearly everyone is a musical instrument. But the composer is still dead.

Perhaps you can solve the crime yourself. Join the Inspector as he interrogates all the unusual suspects. Then listen to the accompanying audio recording featuring Lemony Snicket and the music of Nathaniel Stookey performed by the San Francisco Symphony. Hear for yourself exactly what took place on that fateful, well-orchestrated evening.


First sentence: “The composer is dead.”

Lemony Snicket continues to win my hearts! The Composer Is Dead is so delightful! It has the same Lemony Snicket wit I’m used to – funny and macabre-esque.

The Composer Is Dead is about a composer who is found dead and an incompetent inspector is tasked to find the culprit. He interrogates every section of the orchestra (not the musicians themselves, but the instruments). Each instrument provides their alibi (their personalities absolutely blooming in these parts of the story), leaving the inspector completely baffled. And when the inspector finally realizes who had killed the composer, it’s really not what you expected. It’s a satisfying ending that leaves the story (and music in general) open-ended.

The book comes with a CD of Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) narrating the book with the San Francisco Orchestra accompanying him. If you pick up this book, you must read it with the CD. The music and Snicket creates a distinct voice and personality for each of instruments as well as point out their duties in an orchestra. You’ll clutch your hearts for the sad forgotten violas and laugh at the boisterous brass instruments. It’s absolutely splendid.

Snicket has an excellent voice for this the story. He speaks in a way that has the right amount of humor and seriousness. It’s very tongue-in-cheek. Snicket adds in a few lines that aren’t written in the book (like when the Inspector yells for the strings to stop playing and the French Horn bit), but it adds more even more humor to it. I found myself grinning at everything in the book, especially during the parts with the sneaky reed instruments and the loud brass instruments.

The pictures are gorgeous. I’m a big fan of watercolors and whimsical-esque illustrations, so it’s not surprising that I like Carson Ellis’s illustrations. The whimsical feeling is perfect for this piece. I just wish there was more!

Even if you don’t like Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, I would highly recommend this The Composer Is Dead. It is a wonderful book that educates children on the different instruments in an orchestra. What child doesn’t like a funny “who done it” story?



One Response to “REVIEW | The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket”

  1. Omg this book sounds really intriguing. I remember buying one of the books from the Unfortunate Events series when I was 9 yrs old, and I just realized now that I bought like the 4th book lol! I never read it, but I’ve seen the movie which was good. I will tell my brother who is younger than me to read this book. I’m just not really into middle grade anymore.

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