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The Big Over Easy ~ Jasper Fforde

October 24, 2009

Genre: Adult Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Books

383 pages

ISBN: 9780143037231

There are dead end jobs and then there’s The Dead End Job. Years ago, the city of Reading’s Nursery Crime (yes, you read that right) Division was headed by the a more successful sleuth than Jack Spratt. Unfortunately, he’s just lost one case too many (it turns out that those three murderous pigs were a jury favorite while the vegetarian wolf failed to overcome public stereotyping) and it looks like, not only his job but his whole division, is headed for early retirement. It’s not that Jack is a terrible detective; it’s just that crime, like all things, is political and he’s been edged out of some high profile cases leaving his career wedged between a rock and a hard place.

His livelihood hangs in the balance of one last chance when aging playboy, Humpty Dumpty is found dead after a rowdy night on the social scene. When the whole town becomes suspect, Jack is sent, head spinning, down a rabbit hole of red herrings and literal goose chases, causing the public to seriously question whether he should be in the field at all. As the clock ticks down the minutes on Jack’s ailing career, the absurd becomes normal and normal becomes completely obsolete.

This is a fantastic spoof of the detective story. There is a lot of great, dry British humor throughout, recalling Monty Python at many a turn. The plot is fast paced from the get go and never loses momentum. At times, the nursery rhyme and kid-lit word plays are put on a bit thick but some of the more subtle allusions to Grimm and Potter are well worth the cheese. And you needn’t worry about the nursery rhyme theme watering down the adult content. There is plenty of sex, wine and violence to go around. This is most certainly the dark side of the cradle.

I can’t believe I haven’t read anything else by Jasper Fforde. He is definitely on my list of authors to explore more. I think that there is another NCD book and I hope he’s working on others.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jpetroroy permalink
    October 24, 2009 11:42 pm

    You should read his Thursday Next series. It’s amazingly clever and fun; so literary. I’ve never read the Nursery Rhyme ones, but they’ve been on my list for a while.

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