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 Gingerbreadman—sadist, psychopath, cookie—is on the loose in Reading, but that’s not who Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary are after. Instead, they’ve been demoted to searching for missing journalist “Goldy” Hatchett. The last witnesses to see her alive were the reclusive Three Bears, and right away Spratt senses something furry—uh, funny—about their story, starting with the porridge. The Fourth Bear is a delirious new romp from our most irrepressible fabulist.
Oh, goodness, I'm not even sure where to start. The Gingerbread Man is a psychotic killer who escapes from jail. Goldilocks is found dead in a partly-finished WWI theme park. Sinister events plague the cutthroat world of competitive cucumber-growing. Bears deal in illicit porridge paraphernalia. Punch and Judy are marriage counselors. The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous, but Detective Jack Spratt is on the case. I got quite a few chuckles out of this one, but most of the really good laughs were from the excerpts from The Barkshire Bumper Book of Records at the beginning of each chapter. If you're familiar with nursery rhymes and enjoy absurd humor, you'll probably enjoy this one. I don't know how well it stands on its own, but as the sequel to The Big Over Easy it's quite entertaining. Too bad Fforde hasn't written any more in this series.read more
I read this without reading the first in the series. It's an imaginative context with plenty of wit and puns ('the right to arm bears' being a particular favourite of mine) and some wonderfully original takes on nursery rhyme characters, but somehow it lacks a certain amount of bite. Using this book as a representative sample, the Nursery Crimes Division seems to occupy a similar area in its genre to, say, Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers series, but for me it does not deliver the same page-turner qualities. The gags keep on coming, but in a sort of scattergun fashion: some hit the mark but plenty miss the target or go completely astray. There are some nice moments, some quaint descriptions, and some suitably wild sequences of events. In the end, though, I found it to be a little less than satisfying. Maybe it just tries to do and be too much.read more
Really very good holiday reading. Funny. Witty. Barking.read more
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