The series begins with the children receiving the bad news of their parents’ death by estate executer, Mr. Poe. Count Olaf deceives the daft Mr. Poe into believing he (Olaf) is a caring, distant cousin of the Baudelaire’s, and the children are taken to live with the imposter. The siblings are subject to harsh treatment, and soon discover the count’s evil intentions. Exposed as a fraud, Olaf escapes police apprehension, and Mr. Poe resumes his search for another Baudelaire relative.
For a critical overview of the entire series, see A Series of Unfortunate Events (Books series overview).