Tag Archives: jack spratt

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (unabridged audiobook read by Simon Vance; 11 hrs on 9 discs): 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.

A note on the audio: The first book in this series, The Big Over Easy, was narrated by Simon Prebble. Previously I’d only heard Vance read more serious books, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was fun listening to him read this bit of silliness, but I’m not sure how I would have felt if I’d listened to the books back to back.

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde: Detective Jack Spratt heads the somewhat failing Nursery Crimes Division of the Reading Police Department. Shortly after being assigned Mary Mary as his new partner, Spratt and his team are faced with solving the suspicious death of one Humperdink “Humpty” Dumpty. In a world where police departments get much of their funding from royalties earned publishing the gripping tales of their cases in Amazing Crimes magazine, Friedland Chymes is king, and he wants the Humpty case. Spratt’s boss gives him until the budgetary committee meeting to solve the case, so it’s a race against time and the laughs are nonstop. This is, quite simply, one of the funniest novels I’ve ever read. I listened to it on audio, read by the immensely talented Simon Prebble, and on many occasions I laughed out loud or even repeated some of the funnier lines. They come at you from all sides, from hilarious takes on famous nursery rhyme characters to witty business names (my favorite newspaper name was The Daily Eyestrain) to truly bizarre plot twists. Highly recommended, but you might want to brush up on your nursery rhymes first so you can catch more of the jokes. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it just that much more.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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