Jasper Fforde, Author . Viking $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-03359-1

Welsh writer Fforde's fourth entry in the zany, hypercreative Thursday Next detective series revisits the "Literary Detective" as she retreats to her hometown of Swindon, England, retiring from the tedious job (as Head of Jurisfiction) she held in Fforde's previous novel, The Well of Lost Plots . Joined by her two-year-old son, Friday, pet dodos Pickwick and Alan, and Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, Thursday realizes that there's someone missing: her husband, Landen, previously "eradicated" by the Goliath Corporation, a ruthless bio-tech conglomerate corporation. She wants Landen back. Aided by her father, she is reinstated into her old employ, the Special Operations Network, and begins investigating the machinations of power-hungry Fictioneer Yorrick Kaine and the mysterious disappearance of England's president. The fate of the world rests on the outcome of a major croquet tournament, with Thursday pinch-hitting on a lethal playing field as Landen is finally returned to reality (only to fade out again). More than a little wacky, the novel is packed with screwball details as characters get "written" in and out of the story, hybridized creatures stalk malls and Shakespeare clones start popping up everywhere. With humorous illustrations and curious footnotes sprinkled throughout, Fforde's latest will have hardcore fans roaring—but those new to the series might want to tackle the convoluted mayhem from the very beginning. Agent, Eric Simonoff. 5-city author tour. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/16/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
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Hardcover - 11 pages - 978-1-4074-0164-5
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Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4025-9598-1
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Paperback - 385 pages - 978-0-14-303541-1
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