October 06, 2011

The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime by Jasper Fforde

I started out thinking this book was incredibly cheesy. I had heard it was funny, witty, and clever but the first couple chapters just didn't hold my attention. However, I'm glad I persevered because it ended up being a charming book.

Jack Spratt is the lead detective of the Nursery Crimes Division of the Reading police. While not as laudable as his colleagues in the regular division who are all a part of the Detectives guild, he nonetheless enjoys his job and does it to the best of his ability. Shortly after a new detective Mary-Mary joins him, they catch hold of a case of the murder of Humpty-Dumpty, who appears for all purposes, to have fallen off his wall.

Quickly though the investigation discovers it is murder, Humpty has been shot! But there are so many suspects and so many motives. It doesn't help that super detective Chymes (2nd guild ranking) has decided he wants this case, and being the golden boy that he is, might just get it. Jack has to think quick and keep it out of his hands lest it become just another fabricated story for the presses. But the question is, will he be able to do this and solve the murder?

The idea for the novel was very clever. Fforde puts in tons of bits of nursery rhymes, myths, and other stories into the work to keep the idea of nursery lives mixed with reality. One innovation he had that I didn't particularly care for was the Detectives Story Guild. While I'm sure its an integral part of this novel, I just got annoyed with all the references to it. I would have preferred to just read the story as a mystery without all the hoopla of trying to be a part of the guild.

Fforde's writing style is very descriptive. As said before he borrows from a lot of sources to give substance to his novel and it did create a fairly believable fantasy world. There were some rather disgusting descriptions in this book, but nothing too violent or offend-able. I have to say though, some of his humor was the type where you chuckle a bit and then just groan. Kind of the feeling after a very bad pun has just been told.

Rather funny was the picture on the back cover of Humpty's autopsy photos. They went over specific cracks in his shell, markings belonging to him, and of course the gunshot. Fforde also included an epilogue on what happened to everyone which provided a few chuckles.

Overall though, the book was cute. I might be convinced to read some of his other works. I know there's a sequel to this one so I'll probably check it out next time I see it.

The Big Over Easy
Copyright 2005
383 pages + some relevant pictures in the back of the book

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