Synopses & Reviews
Jack Spratt and Mary Mary return in their second adventure from the inimitable Jasper Fforde.
Five years ago, Viking introduced Jasper Fforde and his upsidedown, inside-out literary crime masterpieces. And as they move from Thursday Next to Jack Spratt's Nursery Crimes, his audience is insatiable and growing. Now, with The Fourth Bear, Jack Spratt and Mary Mary take on their most dangerous case so far as a murderous cookie stalks the streets of Reading.
The Gingerbreadman psychopath, sadist, genius, and killer is on the loose. But it isn't Jack Spratt's case. He and Mary Mary have been demoted to Missing Persons following Jack's poor judgment involving the poisoning of Mr. Bun the baker. Missing Persons looks like a boring assignment until a chance encounter leads them into the hunt for missing journalist Henrietta Goldy Hatchett, star reporter for The Daily Mole. Last to see her alive? The Three Bears, comfortably living out a life of rural solitude in Andersen's wood.
But all is not what it seems. How could the bears' porridge be at such disparate temperatures when they were poured at the same time? Why did Mr. and Mrs. Bear sleep in separate beds? Was there a fourth bear? And if there was, who was he, and why did he try to disguise Goldy's death as a freak accident?
Jack answers all these questions and a few others besides, rescues Mary Mary from almost certain death, and finally meets the Fourth Bear and the Gingerbreadman face-to-face.
"Like The Big Over Easy (2005), Fforde's first Nursery Crime novel, this sequel offers literary allusions, confusions and gentle satire, though, again like its predecessor, it lacks the snap of the author's Thursday Next series (The Eyre Affair, etc.). Jack Spratt, DCI of the Nursery Crime Division of the Reading Police Department, is also a PDR (Person of Dubious Reality), as are most of the characters Jack deals with, including the Gingerbreadman, a notorious killer, and Punch and Judy, a violence prone couple who are also marriage counselors. An alien policeman named Ashley, talking bears, a devoted group of cucumber-growing enthusiasts and an immensely powerful company, Quang Tech, add spice. All are grist for Fforde, whose word play runs the gamut from puns to shaggy dog stories. The Gingerbreadman's on the loose, Goldilocks is missing and Jack's once again persona non grata at headquarters. As Jack and his associates 'bring justice to the nursery world,' they also cast a Swiftian eye on corporate hubris, race relations, the drug trade and myriad other targets." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The Fourth Bear turns out to be a surprisingly cool-eyed glance at the human condition disguised as a witty, typically British entertainment whose elaborately cantilevered plot even includes a McGuffin." Los Angeles Times
"[B]rilliantly, breathlessly odd." USA Today
"Fforde is a writer of extreme creativity with a well-honed sense of humor and a fondness for clever wordplay." Denver Post
"Chock-a-block with puns, literary allusions, groan-worthy asides, and playful dismantling of the police procedural...The Fourth Bear will appeal to fans of whimsy, silliness, or plain old nonsense." Booklist
"Great fun." Library Journal
The inimitable Jasper Fforde gives readers another delightful mash-up of detective fiction and nursery rhyme, returning to those mean streets where no character is innocent. The Gingerbreadmanandmdash;sadist, psychopath, cookieandmdash;is on the loose in Reading, but thatandrsquo;s not who Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary are after. Instead, theyandrsquo;ve been demoted to searching for missing journalist andldquo;Goldyandrdquo; Hatchett. The last witnesses to see her alive were the reclusive Three Bears, and right away Spratt senses something furryandmdash;uh, funny
andmdash;about their story, starting with the porridge. The Fourth Bear
is a delirious new romp from our most irrepressible fabulist.
About the Author
Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring vacantly out of the window and arranging words on a page. He lives and writes in Wales. The Eyre Affair was his first novel in the bestselling Thursday Next series. The Big Over Easy is the first in his new Nursery Crime series.