cover image The Woman Who Died A Lot: A Thursday Next Novel

The Woman Who Died A Lot: A Thursday Next Novel

Jasper Fforde. Putnam, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-02502-2

Fforde (One of Our Thursdays is Missing) continues to show that his forte is absurdist humor in his seventh crime thriller starring Thursday Next, a member of the Literary Detectives division of Special Operations in an alternate-universe Britain. This time, it%E2%80%99s 2004, and Next is about to have a crowded week, even by her standards. As she puts it, it %E2%80%9Cbegan with a trip into Swindon in order to find myself a job and ended with a pillar of cleansing fire descending from the heavens, a rethink on the Wessex Library Service operating budget, and my son shooting Gavin Watkins dead.%E2%80%9D Meanwhile, Britain is attempting to manage a stupidity surplus: %E2%80%9C[t]he nation%E2%80%99s stupidity%E2%80%94usually discharged on a harmless drip feed of minor bungling%E2%80%94had now risen far beyond the capacity of the nation to dispose of it in a safe and sensible fashion.%E2%80%9D Toast has become the newest fad food, spawning a popular chain of topless toast bars known as Tooters. Such details help flesh out this endearingly-bizarre fantasy world limited only by Fforde%E2%80%99s impressive imagination. Agent: Will Francis, Janklow & Nesbit U.K. (Oct. 2)