Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.38 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Fourth Bear: A Nursery Crime (Jack Spratt Investigates) Paperback – Illustrated, July 31, 2007
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Like the creators of . . . The Simpsons and South Park, Mr. Fforde uses fantasy to dissect real life. . . . He is our best thinking personÆs genre writer. (The Washington Times)
Mr. Fforde manages to bombard the reader with more bizarre detail than most writers would dare to fit in their entire oeuvre, yet he does so with . . . light prose and easy, confident wit. (The Wall Street Journal)
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Illustrated edition (July 31, 2007)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 378 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0143038923
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143038924
- Item Weight : 9.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 0.9 x 5.1 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #229,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Our main character is Jack Spratt—yes, that Jack Sprat whose first wife died of complications from obesity. Now he is trying to live a normal human life—hence, the new spelling of his name—rather than his previous life as a PDR, Person of Dubious Reality.
Any fan of detective stories knows that the good detective picks up on anomalies—like Sherlock Holmes noting that the dog did not bark. So it is with the story of the Three Bears. If the bears were having a meal together, the porridges would have all been cooked in one pot and served at the same time. The three bowls should have all been the same temperature, or nearly so. Why was Papa’s too hot, Mama’s too cold, and Baby’s in between? And why was Goldilocks murdered?
We get appearances from the Quangle Wangle, the Gingerbread Man (a serial criminal who taunts the police with “You can’t catch me”), Dorian Grey (a used car salesman with an unusual guarantee), Madeleine Usher, a space alien, some scientists from Laputa, and others too numerous to mention. This book is a hoot.
Solving the murder of Humpty Dumpty made Jack Spratt famous, but, as the new book opens, he has fallen somewhat, thanks to a couple of botched operations, most notably his failure in the Red Riding Hood case, which left both Red and her grandmother catatonic. He is told to attend a psychiatric evaluation, which he fervently would rather avoid, even as a young reporter with golden hair turns up dead at a Battle of the Somme theme park ("Somme World", which is designed to mortify anyone who goes there), hours after she was discovered naked in bed at the Bruin household. Who killed Goldilocks, and why? Included here are, among other amusing details, the reasons why the story of the smallest bowl being 'just right' doesn't hold water, and what that indicates.
Fforde is not content to hit the same notes that made "The Big Over Easy" so entertaining, which some may see as a negative, depending on what you think about what he chooses to replace it with. The first novel made a great deal of the fictional unverse's obsession with 'true crime' stories, and the effect this had on police procedure, but this angle is more or less absent from "The Fourth Bear". There is no sense that the characters are spending their time trying to be more dramatic; Briggs, Jack's police captain, has seemingly gone from a self-aware parody of the trope where police captains are always suspending their officers to merely another example of that trope played straight (albeit with every referring to "Plot Device Number _" in reference to various strategies and situations they find themselves in). Playing the story a bit more straight adds a bit more straight-up drama to the story, though Fforde has not toned down his trademark irreverence one bit.
This approach also allows for some real exploration of the characters in a non-satirical context, and both Jack and Mary get a lot of good development here. Jack's concerns one of the intriguing new angles Fforde introduces here: a more thorough explanation of the existence of 'fictional' characters in the 'real' world, and how they differ from normal humans. Jack is a 'PDR' (Person of Dubious Reality), but seems to be fairly well-adjusted, while he is able to call out his psychiatrist on being a threadbare plot device who has no backstory or memories otuside what the author has supplied her with (which is emotionally devastating).
Fforde casts his net quite wide in terms of source material, reeling in not just Southey's characters but far more obscure ones such as Mr and Mrs. Punch (British puppets who I suspect non-Brits such as myself will find rather mystifying); and the entire mystery revolves around various figures from Edward Lear's "The Quangle Wangle's Hat", which I had never heard of before, but numerous important plot details are drawn from it (one might consider reading that poem before reading this).
All in all, another winner from Fforde.
Top reviews from other countries
So, The Fourth Bear has DCI Jack Spratt involved in a contorted investigation for the killer of Goldilocks, the activities of the ersine underground and also the reason why a series of championship-winning, green-fingered, former scientists have progressively been bumped off. Suspended again, not this time due to any plot device, but on the basis that he will be subject to a psychiatric analysis by the partner of his wife's ex husband, who he has managed to insult only hours previously at a social gathering. Meanwhile, trying to secure the proof that a car with an ability to restore itself, sold to him by a character from a Dickens novel who has a pact with the Devil, is not an indication of his definite tentative hold with reality.. Rapid moving, numerous plot lines, laugh-out-loud funnies, this will have you gripped until the final page!
Fforde manages to write in a manner which seems to reflect precisely the way my own humour works; I loved this to bits, just can't wait for the next (no pun intended) adventure.
So you have the main protagonist, Jack Spratt, living next to the contant domestic violence of Punch and Judy, along with a mysterious wood inhabited by Three Bears.
With thermo-nuclear cucumbers, full frontals in outer space and a psychotic gingerbreadman, there are few pages that do not venture into the surreal. It's a great thriller, with plenty of twists and turns along the way, even if the ending is a little obvious.
And of course it does attempt to answer a question that has bugged parents for years. If the three bears made porridge, and put it into 3 bowls at the same time, how come they were all at such wildly different temperatures?