Monday, February 28, 2011

fractured nursery rhyme

Title: The Big Over Easy
Author: Jasper Fforde

Neo-noir mystery, a carefully crafted alternative world, ridiculous jokes, sight gags, and wordplay, and clever tweaking of familiar characters and elements--is it any wonder why I love Jasper Fforde?

The Nursery Crime series is a spin-off of the Thursday Next novels in which Detective Inspector Jack Spratt (his first wife died of a diet consisting only of fat) leads his own strange little team in the investigation of crimes related to nursery rhymes in the world behind books which Fforde has craftily constructed. Because they are often aware of their roles in our literature (it's their day job), the characters are also aware of some of the odd patterns that emerge. Threes crop up often in Mother Goose-style stories and nursery rhymes, and detectives often have sidekicks, drinking problems, and classic cars, no matter how incongruous it may be with the rest of their lives.

This is Spratt's debut, and while his well-meaning second wife tries to get him to apply to the Detectives' Guild (it means better pay and benefits, but it also requires many tropes--she fills out his application with lies and omits herself, listing him as divorced and bitter, not the happy family man he is, driving a wreck and drinking only socially), his new partner (Sergeant Mary Mary) tries to muddle through her assignment for a better posting with one of the more respected and influential Guild detectives, while they both try to find out whether Humpty Dumpty was killed, who might have done it, what connection there might be to the local footcare companies, and simultaneously organize the protection detail for a priceless and mysterious artifact.

It's hilarious, clever, witty, ties itself up nicely, and I finished reading it a long time ago, so while I am full of praise, I am admittedly thin on all the details. But I'd happily read it again for a refresher.

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posted by reyn at 2:05 PM


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