Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Big Over Easy

by Jasper Fforde
published: Viking, 2005
pages: 383

Humpty Dumpty has died and it's up to Inspector Jack Spratt and his new partner Mary Mary to figure out if his death was accidental, suicide, or murder.  However, things get a little more difficult when the hero of the police world, Inspector Chymes decides he wants the case.  Spratt has to work creatively to make sure the case stays in his hands.

This book is absolutely ridiculous.  It's references to nursery rhymes and childhood characters are absolutely absurd.  I was so completely entertained by this idea, I kept waiting to see who would show up in the story next.  Mary Mary and Jack Spratt are beautiful main characters that complement each other well.  The idea that these nursery characters could be involved in crime in the aptly named town of Reading is incredibly entertaining.

One of the things I find most entertaining about this book is that these nursery rhyme characters exist in a world side by side with normal humans and aliens that they have beckoned to Earth.  The catch is that the nursery characters don't know that they are nursery characters.  They believe that they are normal humans like everyone else.  So there's this deja vu type feeling they get when they begin to live out their story.  It's hysterical.

After the initial enjoyment of the nursery rhymes turned crimes, it was a bit slow and Mary Mary was more than just a bit annoying.  She was everything a naive newcomer to the crime scene in Reading would expect to be.  She took bait, she blindly followed without questioning, she was as one might say "quite contrary" to everything.   I got seriously annoying with her, but at some point in the novel she had some character growth.  Yay!

Plot takes many many twists and turns as seems only natural for the Nursery Crimes Division and just when you think you know who committed the crime, guess again, the story spirals in a different direction.  This story is entertaining, engaging and all around fun. I don't know why someone hasn't done this before. I will be reading more Jasper Fforde in the future.

Stars: 4/5


"[Jasper Fforde] knows a thing or two about leaping into new's hard not to see what all the enthusiasm is about."
     --Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"A wonderfully readable riot... [A] cleverly plotted, magically overstuffed yet amazingly digestible book... This summer's perfect beach read for eggheads."
     --The Wall Street Journal

"As if the Marx brothers were let loose in the children's section of a strange bookstore."
     --USA Today

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