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I can't imagine that his owner is a thief, but greed and newts can do strange things to people.
— Oliver Sobol, File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents, "Pinched Creature"

Oliver Sobol is a young boy living in Stain'd-by-the-Sea. He appears in File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents in the second incident, "Pinched Creature."  


Early Life

Moxie Mallahan: So few people have pets nowadays, I'd assumed the Doctors Sobol had closed up shop.
Oliver Sobol: They have, but I'm here for a few months running the business until they come and fetch me.
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents, "Pinched Creature"

Oliver Sobol is the son of two veterinarians, who left town but allowed him to remain in Stain'd-by-the-Sea for a few months to run the Sobol Office until they come fetch him. His nearest neighbor, Moxie Mallahan, plays Parcheesi with him. 

His family has the only Amaranthine Newt in captivity, which he keeps in a special tank in his examining room. He was to bring the newt with him when his parents finally called for him, so his father could use it for his new job at Amphibians-A-Go-Go, an aquatic animal center and amusement park; his father already took its eggs with him.

He has two pairs of glasses- one for seeing regularly and one fo reading. This is due to the fact there is no nearby, trustworthy optometrist in order to get him bifocals. 

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

Pinched Creature/Dishonest Salesman

Lemony Snicket: Oliver, why don't you tell us how the newt slipped away?
Oliver Sobol: I don't think it slipped away. I think it was pinched.
Moxie Mallahan: Somebody stole it? That's a serious accusation to make.
Oliver Sobol: I'm making it seriously.
—"Pinched Creature"

Oliver giving Polly Partial's cat, Paperbag, a checkup

Oliver does a checkup on a regular visitor, Polly Partial's cat Paperbag, who has a narcissistic disorder. After Oliver treats the cat and walks them out, he tends to the zinnias in the backyard of the office. When he goes back inside, he finds the Amaranthine Newt missing. As someone who wanted to pinch the creature would have had to have a similar tank to his, which could only be carried in a car, which Oliver would have heard from the backyard, he suspects that Polly Partial may have stolen the creature, though he's not sure how or why.

In distress, Oliver goes to Moxie and meets her associate, Lemony Snicket. He explains his dilemma and Snicket asks if they can walk over to the Sobol Office. As they reach the building, they find a car with a flat tire.

The driver explains he has a flat, and tells them he is a passing doorknob salesman, and that he should walk over to the garage, as he doesn't have anything valuable in his car. Oliver and Moxie ask if the man has seen a suspicious person or a missing newt, and he responds that he saw a woman drive away in a grocery van, and that he hadn't seen a lizard, but they could look in a patch of zinnias, which it might blend into. Snicket then asks the man to open his trunk, so they can see the newt tank he has hidden there; the "doorknob salesman" had somehow guessed that the Amaranthine Newt would blend into a patch of yellow zinnias, while most would assume the newt was purple, due to its name. After being caught, the thief returned the newt to Oliver. 

Later Life

Oliver Sobol is not mentioned by name after the events of File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents. It is possible that he was still in town when the Inhumane Society gathered up the students of Stain'd Secondary School and other children of the town and held them hostage at Wade Academy; Snicket mentions that he recognized some of the children at school "from [his] time in town," which could potentially indicate the children of the thirteen suspicious incidents.[1]

Should he have been there, he would have likely been drugged by Laudanum at Wade Academy and forced to steal honeydew melons for the Inhumane Society,[1] before the students managed to revolt and turn the society out of the school.[2]

Physical Appearance

Oliver is described as several years younger than Lemony Snicket. He wears a white coat and two pairs of glasses, as there's no nearby optometrist to prescribe him bifocals.


File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

I'm sorry to disturb you, but you're the closest neighbor and I need some help.
— "Pinched Creature"
Oliver Sobol: I've lost a newt. It might sound silly, but this newt is very important.
Moxie Mallahan: What could be so important about a little lizard?
Oliver Sobol: First of all, newts aren't lizards. A lizard is a reptile, and a newt is an amphibian. Second of all, this newt is a very rare subspecies. I've lost an Amaranthine Newt, known or its bright yellow color and prevalent left-handedness. It was the only one in captivity and prized by herpetologists and southpaws all over the world.
—"Pinched Creature"
If I can't ind the newt, my father might lose his job.
— "Pinched Creature"
Then I escorted Partial and Paperbag out and spent a few minutes in the backyard watering my father's zinnias. The flowers match the trim on the office, as long as you keep them healthy, and I'd like to leave the place looking nice.
— "Pinched Creature"
To pinch my newt, they'd need a similar tank. You couldn't fit one on a bicycle or a donkey. Polly Partial must have stolen the newt, but I don't see how.
— "Pinched Creature"
Lemony Snicket: I don't mean to be rude, but can you really trust your eyes? I notice you have not one but two pairs of glasses.
Oliver Sobol: My eyes aren't perfect, but with these glasses I can see perfectly well, and I keep the other pair on my head for reading.
—"Pinched Creature"
Oliver Sobol: You haven't noticed a newt crawling around, have you?
Moxie Mallahan: Or a suspicious person?
Doorknob Salesman: What kind of person? I saw a woman driving by in a beat-up grocery van. And what kind of lizard?
Oliver Sobol, sighing in annoyance: It's an Amaranthine Newt, and that woman is probably a thief.
—"Pinched Creature"