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The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crimeby Jasper Fforde
Synopses & Reviews
It's Easter in Reading — a bad time for eggs — and no one can remember the last sunny day. Ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III, minor baronet, ex-convict, and former millionaire philanthropist, is found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. All the evidence points to his ex-wife, who has conveniently shot herself.
But Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary remain unconvinced, a sentiment not shared with their superiors at the Reading Police Department, who are still smarting over their failure to convict the Three Pigs of murdering Mr. Wolff. Before long Jack and Mary find themselves grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, bullion smuggling, problems with beanstalks, titans seeking asylum, and the cut and thrust world of international chiropody.
And on top of all that, the Jelly Man is coming to town...
"Fforde's whimsical fifth novel, his first not to feature literary detective Thursday Next, is consistently witty, but its conceit — putting a criminal spin on nursery rhymes — wears a bit thin. Det. Jack Spratt, the dedicated but underappreciated investigator in the Reading, England, Nursery Crimes Division, is depressed because the court finds the three little pigs 'not guilty of all charges relating to the first-degree murder of Mr. Wolff.' Working with an ambitious young detective, Mary Mary ('Quite Contrary'), Spratt later takes on the case of 'fall guy' Humpty Dumpty. Fforde crafts a police procedural out of this bizarre alternative universe that prizes, as The Eyre Affair does, literacy (detectives, for example, garner recognition less for solving crimes than by writing articles about cases for the likes of Amazing Crime Stories or Sleuth Illustrated). While it can be charming to encounter Mrs. Hubbard or Tom Thomm or to hear Spratt bemoan 'illegal straw-into-gold dens' in this unusual context, the novel's broad satire overshadows elements like plot, conflict and characterization. The result is unusually clever but not compelling in the least. Publishers Weekly
"The British have a rich tradition of nonsense and whimsy, and Fforde is a worthy standard-bearer." Booklist
"Like the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket books, this one is abundantly playful without being truly geared to children." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Full of allusions and puns on detective fiction and nursery rhymes, Fforde's fifth novel and first in a new series is good fun for all fiction collections. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"While the effect is at first hilarious and ingenious,eventually the charm wears off. Shallow and snarky, though the concept is clever." Kirkus Review
For outstanding heroism in the field (despite himself), computational demonologist Bob Howard is on the fast track for promotion to management within the Laundry, the supersecret British government agency tasked with defending the realm from occult threats. Assigned to External Assets, Bob discovers the company (unofficially) employs freelance agents to deal with sensitive situations that may embarrass Queen and Country.
So when Ray Schiller—an American televangelist with the uncanny ability to miraculously heal the ill—becomes uncomfortably close to the Prime Minister, External Assets dispatches the brilliant, beautiful, and entirely unpredictable Persephone Hazard to infiltrate the Golden Promise Ministries and discover why the preacher is so interested in British politics. And its Bobs job to make sure Persephone doesnt cause an international incident.
But its a supernatural incident that Bob needs to worry about—a global threat even the Laundry may be unable to clean up
Jasper Fforde's bestselling Thursday Next series has delighted readers of every genre with its literary derring-do and brilliant flights of fancy. In The Big Over Easy, Fforde takes a break from classic literature and tumbles into the seedy underbelly of nursery crime. Meet Inspector Jack Spratt, family man and head of the Nursery Crime Division. He's investigating the murder of ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Dumpty, found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Yes, the big egg is down, and all those brittle pieces sitting in the morgue point to foul play.
Read Jasper Fforde's posts in the Penguin Blog
About the Author
Jasper Fforde is the author of the bestselling Thursday Next series. The Big Over Easy is the first in his new Nursery Crime series.
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