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The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime Hardcover – July 25, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 154 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Nursery Crime Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fforde's whimsical fifth novel, his first not to feature literary detective Thursday Next, is consistently witty, but its conceit—putting a criminal spin on nursery rhymes—wears a bit thin. Det. Jack Spratt, the dedicated but underappreciated investigator in the Reading, England, Nursery Crimes Division, is depressed because the court finds the three little pigs "not guilty of all charges relating to the first-degree murder of Mr. Wolff." Working with an ambitious young detective, Mary Mary ("Quite Contrary"), Spratt later takes on the case of "fall guy" Humpty Dumpty. Fforde crafts a police procedural out of this bizarre alternative universe that prizes, as The Eyre Affair does, literacy (detectives, for example, garner recognition less for solving crimes than by writing articles about cases for the likes of Amazing Crime Stories or Sleuth Illustrated). While it can be charming to encounter Mrs. Hubbard or Tom Thomm or to hear Spratt bemoan "illegal straw-into-gold dens" in this unusual context, the novel's broad satire overshadows elements like plot, conflict and characterization. The result is unusually clever but not compelling in the least.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Hearing characters debate the implications of "illegal straw-into-gold dens" is attractive to a certain type of reader. Puns and silliness can certainly provide laugh-out-loud fun, especially when cleverly handled. But critics found this new series debut from literary jokester Jasper Fforde (The Eyre Affair, **** Summer 2002, is from Fforde’s first series, Thursday Next) a tad shallow and wearisome. Fforde doesn’t skewer nursery rhymes exclusively; he also spoofs mystery fiction protocol, including anagrams, secret twins, and butlers who did it. This is actually his most ingenious turn in an otherwise overlong send-up.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (July 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670034231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670034239
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is an early Jasper Fforde book that was rewritten following the success of "The Eyre Affair" and the rest of that series. Readers of "The Well of Lost Plots" will remember that Thursday Next vacationed in an unpublished book called "Caversham Heights", where she met DCI Briggs. This story also takes place in Caversham Heights, this time starring Detective Inspector Jack Spratt, who still eats no fat, and who heads the struggling Nursery Crime Division.

Jack has been very unlucky to be working in the shadow of popular Detective Friedland Chymes, and has just spectacularly lost a major case where the murderous three little pigs got off the hook for the death of the unfortunate big bad wolf. With the Department about to be shut down due to budget cuts and too few published cases, Jack gets a lease on life with the arrival of a contrary new partner, Sergeant Mary Mary and the messy death of Humperdinck Jehoshaphat Aloyius Stuyvesant van Dumpty, a.k.a. Humpty Dumpty.

As the book works its convoluted way to a grand and totally out of left field finale, be prepared to get brain strain trying to remember the dozen plus nursery rhymes thrown casually in the mix, as well as keeping track of the numerous and diverse characters, including an alien who speaks in binary, an aging movie starlet and a disgraced Greek Titan.

Although sometimes a little too clever for its own good, and too far fetched even for a fantasy, it's very entertaining reading, and a good choice for fans of Jasper Fforde.

Amanda Richards, October 26, 2005
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Format: Hardcover
When Humperdinck Jehoshaphat van Dumpty, better known as Humpty Dumpty, falls off the wall once too often and is shattered beyond repair, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his partner Mary Mary of the Nursery Crime Division of the city of Reading are assigned the investigation. The case turns from accidental death to one of murder. Dumpty was a womanizer and con man who had been involved in a lot of shady dealings and who had lots of enemies. Jack is still stinging from not being able to bring the three little pigs to justice for their wanton murder of Mr. Wolff. He wants to shake his reputation for having a poor solve rate for his cases, so cracking the Dumpty case is important to him. How can he solve this high-profile case and prevent the maligned Nursery Crimes Division from being disbanded? How can he keep superstar Detective Friedland Chymes from stealing the investigation from him? Why was Dumpty buying up all the shares of Spongg's Footcare stock before his untimely death? And most important of all, how can the resolution of this case make good copy for a future issue of Amazing Crime Stories magazine?

Author Jasper Fforde has switched gears from his Thursday Next series to begin a new series of hard-boiled police procedurals based on Nursery Crime cases. "The Big Over Easy" has many funny moments as Fforde places familiar nursery rhyme characters in unusual situations. There are puns galore, and humorous character names such as Hercule Porridge, Miss Maple, Lord Peter Flimsey, and Winsum & Loosum. Each chapter is prefaced with an excerpt from an imaginary book that covers a literary topic in this topsy-turvy world.
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Format: Hardcover
I always had a thing against traditional nursery rhymes. I thought they were just a little too violent for their intended audience. Thankfully, Jasper Fforde had the mind to expose the seedy underbelly of Humpty Dumpty's world and the truth is finally out.

Oh, to get a peek inside of the creative and imaginative mind of Mr. Fforde.

"The Big Over Easy" is a skillful work of art and it was a pleasure to read although I did do a little too much eye-rolling.

It's a perfect summer read, full of satire, wit, and plenty to make you chuckle out loud. I loved it!
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Format: Hardcover
Warning: This book is not about Thursday Next. If that's what you are looking for, consider instead The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten (if you've missed on of the marvelous books in this series).

Jack Spratt Investigates the Big over Easy is a book that many will rate at less than five stars because they are pining for a Thursday Next book. But to be fair, I think we have to look at this book as though we had never read any of the Thursday Next series.

From that perspective, I thought that Jack Spratt Investigates the Big over Easy was a hilarious satire of the detective genre, reporters and police. I cannot think of a satire of those subjects I've enjoyed more.

The basic story is misleadingly simple. Jack Spratt is on his second marriage (the one to his wife who eat no lean didn't last because of her diet) . . . but still stuck in a rut in his career as head of the lowly Nursery Crime Division. Even that occupation is in jeopardy when Spratt fails to help gain a conviction of the three little pigs in the death of one wolf.

When Humpty Dumpty shows up in piece at the base of a wall, Jack's career may be about to go to pieces as well. Because of Humpty's notoriety, compulsive publicity hound (and former colleague) Friedland Chymes decides he wants the case. With never-ending intrigue all around him, Jack takes an inevitable walk through nursery tales that will seem both different and eerily familiar.

Keep your tongue firmly in your check . . . and giggle on! It's an unrestrained romp.
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