My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…
But was it an accident? Suicide?
Or was it murder?
Jasper Fforde takes us into the extraordinary town of Reading where Nursery Crimes are prevalent, but irrelevant to the upper bosses of the police force. Saddled with a new partner, Sergeant Mary Mary (who can be quite contrary), DCI Jack Spratt must navigate the murky waters of political diplomacy, investigating the crime of a giant playboy egg, and fatherhood all while struggling to make it into the Detectives Guild – a high ranking honor which would nab him some of the best cases and some much needed good publicity! That is, if he could stop killing giants long enough to balance it all. Oh, did I mention there is an alien named Ashley who works for the Nursery Crime Division? His native tongue is binary.
As a writer, I am blown away by Fforde’s creativity and ability to lace together such a thick, entertaining plot involving nursery rhymes most commonly remembered in Great Britain. Perhaps, as an American, I was at a disadvantage for this fact, but I was readily willing to trust that what I didn’t understand, the references which didn’t connect with me, were regional for his neck of the woods and so fit along with the story.
It’s a hard book to put down and a series (The Fourth Bear is the follow up) which I am eagerly awaiting the third installment. Fforde has much on his plate, though, with the Thursday Next series, Shades of Grey, and the Last Dragonslayer so I won’t be holding my breath too long for a novel about the Tortoise and the Hare – the rigged race! However, I’m a loyal reader, hook – line – and sinker – so I imagine I’ll be picking up another series of his soon. With titles such as: The Woman Who Died A lot, First Among Sequels, and The Well of Lost Plots, how can you not be intrigued?!
Perhaps I’ll start with The Eyre Affair.