The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime

Jasper Fforde, Author
Jasper Fforde, Author . Viking $23.95 (383p) ISBN 978-0-670-03423-9
Paperback - 398 pages - 978-0-340-89710-2
Hardcover - 398 pages - 978-0-340-83567-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-3542-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-3701-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-3702-5
Hardcover - 597 pages - 978-0-7862-8233-3
Paperback - 383 pages - 978-0-14-303723-1
Compact Disc - 978-0-14-305884-7
Compact Disc - 10 pages - 978-0-14-305770-3
Hardcover - 398 pages - 978-0-340-83566-1
Hardcover - 3 pages - 978-1-84456-140-7
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-340-83569-2
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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. Agent, Eric Simonoff. 10-city author tour. (July 25)

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