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Showing 1-10 of 66 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 176 reviews
on August 20, 2017
This is a very funny book. Actually, it is hilarious. From a little past midpoint it becomes hysterical and stays that way all the way to the end. Jack Spratt is a flatfoot, a gumshoe, a copper, with a wife and too many kids and not enough money. He is rumpled, unattractive, and somewhat shy. He has managed by sheer dint of longevity to achieve the rank of DI (detective inspector) when he knows he could be a DCI (detective Chief inspector) except he has an outrageously flashy rival who continually steals his cases and his spotlight. DI Spratt runs the only (woefully understaffed and underfunded) department specializing in nursery crimes: that is, crimes committed by and/or against all your favorite nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters. Since the book begins with the investigation into exactly how Humpty Dumpty fell from the wall it's hardly spoilerish to relate that it's DI Jack Spratt and his very reluctant new assistant, DS (detective sergeant) Mary Mary (you read that right) who catch the case, a case that becomes more convoluted and confused as the book goes on. The more you know your nursery rhymes and fairy tales the funnier it is.
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on June 16, 2015
Jack Spratt is in charge of the Nursery Crimes Division of Reading, a division on the verge of losing its budget thanks to his recent inability to convict the Three Little Pigs of murdering the Big Bad Wolf. Then the smashed remains of Humpty Dumpty are found next to a wall and Jack knows it wasn't suicide. Now Jack must find the murderer, save his misfit division, and keep sleuthing celebrity, DCI Friedland Chimes, off the case.

I absolutely loved The Big Over Easy. Thank you for the recommendation Polly! Each page is packed with nursery rhyme references but it never feels overwhelming as the passages are so matter-or-fact. It leaves you with this nagging feeling that these events actually happened. Fforde's dry, sarcastic humor kept my snickering and speeding through the novel. The Jack and the Beanstalk references killed me every time!

My only complaint is the climax chapters were too fast paced for me in comparison to the rest of the story. That's it for me but I did take some time to read the few negative reviews of The Big Over Easy. My response to them is: do NOT read this book if you don't like murder mysteries. It's a murder mystery that mocks the elaborate and showy nature of modern mystery development. How can you expect to like that when you don't enjoy mystery novels?! Other reviewers complain that Fforde is trying too hard to be clever and only includes all the nursery rhyme information to make his readers feel smart when they get the references. You've got to be kidding me. Yes, the clever jokes and writing style may be too much for some but I highly doubt Fforde is more concerned with boosting the ego of his readers over the need to provide a good complex story. My only advice for such thinkers is that you should get over yourself and learn to enjoy the mechanics and discipline required to write a well balanced story.

Fforde's jaw dropping ability to expertly meld so much research and detail in to one murder mystery has me wanting to be a better writer. I recommend The Big Over Easy to writers, as well as readers, as a prime example of a writing style that remains showing despite being so informational.

Have you discovered the Nursery Crimes Division? It's time you should!

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on January 27, 2016
This is one of my favorite authors and the Nursery Crime series is by far the best. I say some violence because it is a murder mystery. The victim is Humpty Dumpty. Some violence and some sexual content because of the characters Punch & Judy who, if you look at their history in the world of puppet shows, alternately fight and then have make up sex. It is not described, you are just told that they do it. These books are a masterful way of using all of the old familiar nursery rhyme characters and creating a whole new story with them. Jack Spratt is the detective! So clever.
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on September 17, 2017
Jasper Fforde is one od my favorite writers. Infusing the humor and playfulness of Douglas Adams and Terry Prachett, he brings out the fun in literature and gives a big wink to those in the know. Book readers.)
Though this is a spin off of his Thursday Next series, this was my intro to the author and I am so glad to know of him! His works bring much needed humor and brightness to our wary world.
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on August 12, 2017
This book is certainly imaginative. The author uses double entendres and nursery rhyme characters to tell the story of Humpty Dumpty's demise. Funny and as a true murder mystery, keeps you guessing til the end.
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on October 26, 2005
I would like to begin this review by saying that I think Jasper Fforde is one of the most imaginative and creative writers that I have ever read and definitely one of the best writers out there today. I love the way his stories play with other stories and story telling in general and I think the Thursday Next series is pure joy.

That said, I had a very hard time getting through the Big Over Easy. The plot moved very slow and it was not until halfway through that I even began to become engaged in the characters and what they were involved in. The story fails as a murder mystery (since the eventual answer is essentially that everyone did it) and it failed as a comedy for me because the entire first half of the book only made me feel nostalgic for The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin which I felt did a far better (and funnier) job of bringing the nursery rhyme characters into the real and adult world. Fforde's nursery jokes feel recycled and most fall flat.

The other big problem with this book, for me, was the setting. As a reader of the Thursday Next series, I was very wrong footed as I tried to figure out when and where this story took place. References to things in Thursday's world (including Lola Vavoom and a reference to The Eyre Affair) only served to distract me as I found myself trying to figure out how this story fit into that world. The fact that this story is essentially a spin-off (as Jack and Mary are the characters from the unfinished story Thursday hides out in in Well of Lost Plots) only made me more confused when characters didn't behave as I expected them to from our prior meeting.

Even beyond the distractions above, the story itself was little more than an over the top (not in a good way) parody of detective novels in general and I found myself having to force myself to finish it. I don't how to express it in Amazon stars but I rate this book a solid "eh." I will naturally read the next book because I am a Fforde junky, but I hope its back to his original masterful style rather than this recycled feel.
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on August 28, 2017
It has been a long time since my last nursery rhyme. Those old familiar tales with their questionable moral endings have been revitalized for me. More than once I found myself Googling a reference in this book. If you like detective stories and fun trips down memory lane, give this a shot.
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on May 7, 2017
The story had a some great twist and turns. The characters were well developed the humor was great and unusual.
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on July 28, 2017
This was a great read, very clever on how the author incorporate fairy tales into everyday living.
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on June 6, 2008
Jasper Fforde made his name in the literary world with his very popular "Thursday Next" series of books following the eponymous heroine on a series of fantastically convoluted adventures in the world of metafiction. There are some connections between the characters in this novel and characters who appeared as minor figures in one of the "Thursday Next" books, but the "Nursery Crime" series is a distinct animal, albeit though it plays with many of the same metafictional themes. "The Big Over Easy", the first entry in the new series, is a wonderful little book.

The basic story follows Jack Spratt, the head of Reading's Nursery Crime Division (NCD), who has worked for decades in what is considered a career dead-end (one step above the Ministry of Magic's Centaur Office, if you will), handling criminal acts involving nursery rhyme characters (he himself is one, though he doesn't know it, combining Jack Spratt, Jack the Giant-Killer, and Jack and the Beanstalk). He is joined by Mary Mary, a young Detective Sergeant who despairs at being put in the NCD, and really wants to work with Friedland Chymes, the celebrity detective whose adventures she grew up avidly following. The rest of the NCD crew includes a rookie assigned there for two months and then forgotten about, a hypochondriac, and an alien (yes, aliens have arrived, and, as documented in one of the fake newspaper clips included at the start of each chapter, were determined to not be very interesting). The case: the apparent slaying of Humpty Dumpty. The list of suspects is byzantine, and the plot has more contortions than the Gordian Knot, dragging in as incidental figures, among others, Prometheus the Fire-Bringer of Greek myth: he ends up renting a room in Jack's house and romancing his daughter Pandora (despite the 3980-year age difference).

The plot is ultimately not that important; Fforde wittily simultanteously employs and satirizes the various tropes of the genre (identical twins, red herrings, culprits who are only introduced toward the end), and the real fun of the book is in the numerous details (though the final resolution is quite fun; the sheer number of plots going on is itself a sort of parody of the standard detective story). Fforde has a dry, very British sense of humour in the vein of Monty Python and such. His depictions of the novel's world are endlessly entertaining; the book is marvelous fun to read. Each chapter begins with a quote from various in-universe sources, mainly newspapers, highlighting and parodying various fictional tropes. The other major theme in the book is Fforde's exploration of the idea of the celebrity detective; Watson loyally documented and published Holmes' exploits, but here we see this concept run amok: publictation has become as, if not more, important than actuall solving the case for many detectives, Chymes most of all. They actively conduct their investigations in order to make them readable and dramatically interesting.

Highly recommended.
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