Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Humpty Dumpty. The fall guy.

January was reading slump-y for me and in an effort to get back into reading I decided to go with a well-loved book I've read a number of times before. And what better read than Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy?

In a spin-off of the Thursday Next series, we have Nursery Crimes. It's a police division, lead by Jack Spratt (can eat no fat, has a problem with giants) that deals with crimes concerning nursery rhyme characters. Even though this is clearly the most awesome crime division, NCD is chronically underfunded and understaffed. One of the main problems is Jack is having getting his cases written about in one of the real-crime magazines, made famous by the various Sherlock Holmes adventures. Justice is all well and good, but the most important thing is to make sure you have an interesting story, preferably with lots of seemingly insignificant clues that turn out to solve the case. And since Jack was unable to win his latest case, Mr. Wolff vs the Three Pigs, NCD is in more trouble than normal. Here's an example
Since the death by scalding of Mr. Wolff following his ill-fated climb down Little Pig C's chimney, we at the Nursery Crime Division have been following inquiries that this was not an act of self-defense, but a violent and premeditated murder by three individuals who, far from being the innocent victims of wolf-porcine crime, actually sought confrontation and then acted quite beyond what might be described as reasonable self-defense. 10
As with any Fforde book, it's tough to describe the books and make them sound like anything other than a mash up of genres. Which is what the book is, if the whole Nursery Crime title didn't clue you in. And while that could end up a big confusing mess in lesser hands, Fforde knows exactly how to handle things so you stick with the story, no matter how ridiculous it gets. It's hilarious and witty and a murder mystery.  How can a page turner like that not break someone of their reading slump?

I know this review is mostly gushing but I also kind of don't care about that. I'm not sure how many times I've read this but I love it each time. The Thursday books might be my favorite series, but this is a spin-off of that series. It's Frasier to Thursday's Cheers. 

Title quote from page 33

Fforde, Jasper. The Big Over Easy. Penguin Books, 2005.