The Big Over Easy: An Investigation with the Nursery Crime DivisionPaperback
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- Publisher: Hodder Paperback
- Format: Paperback | 416 pages
- Dimensions: 128mm x 206mm x 34mm | 259g
- Publication date: 1 February 2009
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0340897104
- ISBN 13: 9780340897102
- Illustrations note: b/w line illustrations
- Sales rank: 16,755
It's Easter in Reading - a bad time for eggs - and no one can remember the last sunny day. Humpty Dumpty, well-known nursery favourite, large egg, ex-convict and former millionaire philanthropist is found shattered beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Following the pathologist's careful reconstruction of Humpty's shell, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergeant Mary Mary are soon grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, the illegal Bearnaise sauce market, corporate politics and the cut and thrust world of international Chiropody. As Jack and Mary stumble around the streets of Reading in Jack's Lime Green Austin Allegro, the clues pile up, but Jack has his own problems to deal with. And on top of everything else, the Jellyman is coming to town...
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Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring out of the window and sucking the end of a pencil. He lives and works in Wales and has a passion for aviation.
By Marianne Vincent 08 Jul 2012
The Big Over Easy is the first in the Nursery Crime series by Jasper Fforde and, while it was not published until 2005, it was actually written in 1994, well before his highly successful Thursday Next series. It is a reworking of his first written novel which was initially titled "Who Killed Humpty Dumpty", and is set in a similar alternative universe to the Thursday Next novels; the main characters, DI Jack Spratt, DS Mary Mary, Dr. Gladys Singh and others appear in "The Well of Lost Plots". Spratt's boss, Superintendent Briggs tells DS Mary, when she transfers from Basingstoke to Reading Division, hoping to work with the legendary DCI Friedland Chymes: "Modern policing isn't about catching criminals, Mary. It's about good copy and ensuring cases can be made into top-notch documentaries on the telly." (not too much of a stretch from real life....). To her disappointment, Mary is assigned to assist DI Jack Spratt in the Nursery Crime Division which deals with any crime involving nursery characters or plots from poems or stories. The NCD team consists of DI Jack Spratt, DS Mary Mary, Sergeant Charlie Baker (the station hypochondriac), Constable Otto Tibbit, Constable the Baroness Gretel Leibnitz von Kandlestyk-Maeker (forensic accounting expert) and Constable Ashley (blue-skinned alien and computer expert), all sharing two tiny rooms since 1978, with welcome input from Dr Gladys Singh (pathologist). The story opens with Spratt and Mary investigating Humpty Dumpty's fall from a wall and subsequent death. Fforde gives the reader a truly original plot with lots of mystery contrivances including the Locked Room, Identical Twins, Red Herring, Least Likely Suspect and Overlooked Clue, plenty of irony and some worthy puns, and reminds the reader just how much violence there is in Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales. Fforde's main character is happily married to Madeleine with 5 kids & Prometheus as lodger in the spare room, OR a chain-smoking vintage-Rolls-Royce driving divorced alcoholic with an inability to form long-lasting relationships, a love of Puccini, Henry Moore and Magritte (according to his Guild of Detectives application form). Whilst trying to solve the case, Jack is also woven into several other nursery rhymes and tales including, obviously, Jack Spratt, Jack the Giant Killer and Jack and the Beanstalk.
With each Jasper Fforde book, I look forward to the smorgasbord of hilarious, occasionally ludicrous names that Fforde's rich imagination throws up: journalists Joshua Hatchett, Archibald Fatquack, Hector Sleaze and Clifford Sensible; detectives Inspector Moose, Hercule Porridge and Miss Maple from St Michael Mead; Giorgio Porgia, William Winkie, Tom Thomm (the flautist's son), Incomprehensible Greene (landscaper), Seymour Weevil, DCI Bestbeloved, Mr & Mrs Sittkomm. Winsum & Loosum Pharmaceuticals, and Spongg footcare. Fforde also treats the reader to occasional gems like: "She opened the door.....letting out a stream of cats that ran around with such rapidity and randomness of motion that they assumed a liquid state of furry purringness." I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to the second in this series, The Fourth Bear.
Consistently clever Publishers Weekly I love it. THE BIG OVER EASY is great not just because it's very funny...but also because it works properly as a whodunit...Comic genius. Observer A riot of puns, in-jokes and literary allusions that Fforde carries off with aplomb Daily Mail A riot of puns, in-jokes and literary allusions that Fforde carries off with aplomb Daily Mail Now humour is notoriously subjective so what I've just described might just sound plain daft to you. But I love it. THE BIG OVER EASY is great not just because it's very funny but also because it works properly as a whodunnit. Comic genius. Observer,Peter Guttridge 'More twists and turns than Christie ... embellished with the rich details of a Dickens or Pratchett. A real treat.' Independent 'The combination of fantasy and a (more or less) classic murder ... makes a wild and enjoyable change' Sunday Telegraph Very accomplished indeed. Guardian 'Fforde offers a cascade of puns, plays on words, surrealism, satire and verbal virtuosity based on children's rhymes and stories. Astonishingly, he stays funny for 400 pages ... Even more amazingly, there's a real plot there, a proper mystery with a surprise solution' The Times 'This is the first of best-selling Fforde's hilarious, absurd and utterly compelling new series' Daily Mirror 'Fforde offers a cascade of puns, plays on words, surrealism, satire and verbal virtuosity...Astonishing, he is funny for 400 pages' The Times 'Fforde's books are more than an ingenious idea. They are written with buoyant zest and tautly plotted. They have empathetic heroes and heroines who nearly make terrible mistakes and suitably dastardly villains who do. They also have more twists and turns than Christie, and are embellished with the rich detail of a Dickens or Pratchett ... A summertime treat' The Independent 'The combination of fantasy and a (more or less) classic murder ... makes a wild and enjoyable change' Sunday Telegraph 'A triumphant lampoon of the whodunnit genre ... Fforde manages to cram in more jokes per page than before, and the relish with which he takes to his subject is infectious' Herald 'The first of best-selling Fforde's hilarious, absurd and utterly compelling new series' Mirror 'A book that should be more accessible to newcomers ... Fforde may be an acquired taste, but it's worth acquiring' SFX 'Continuing to ransack British fiction, Jasper Fforde here mixes nursery rhymes with golden age detective fiction to produce something very accomplished indeed' Guardian 'Fforde is a master entertainer, and a wordsmith of dexterous genius.' Scotsman