The word of mouth on Jasper Fforde has long been enthusiastic, among those in the know. But now that his readership has expanded immeasurably, the expectations for such books as The Big Over Easy
are considerable. And whether or not those expectations will be met by this new book depends on the readiness of readers to strike out in new directions--just as the author has done. Ffordes speciality has long been the outrageous teasing of narrative forms, and there's a measure of that here, although more disciplined than in earlier books.
Rather in the fashion in which Stephen Sondheim exploded the world of fairytale in Into the Woods, Fforde here brings all the apparatus of the tough crime thriller to bear on the nursery rhyme. Minor baronet Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III has been found dead--and in pieces--beneath a wall in a less salubrious area of town. The perpetrator would appear to be his ex-wife, but she has shot herself. Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his colleague Mary Mary are assigned to the case, and soon find themselves knee-deep in money-laundering, bullion smuggling and major problems with beanstalks.
This isn't quite the Fforde mixture as before, although he has previously favoured a crime motor for his plots. The skill in this outrageously entertaining (and rigorously plotted) concoction lies in a double conjuring trick: we are always amazed to find ourselves reading so assiduously about ludicrous figures (who become quite as interesting heroes as, say, Philip Marlowe) when common sense dictates only children should find such conceits entertaining. Not so! No child could appreciate the dazzling wordplay and witty imagination on offer here, and most readers will be more than happy to encounter detective Inspector Jack Spratt (and his contrary sidekick kick Mary Mary) again and again. --Barry Forshaw
'This year's grown-up J K Rowling' (The Sunday Times
'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
'This is the first if best-selling Fforde's hilarious, absurd and utterly compelling new series of nursery crimes for adults.'
'Fforde offers a cascade of puns, plays on words, surrealism, satire and verbal virtuosity...Astonishingly, he stays funny for 400 pages'
'Fforde is a master entertainer, and a wordsmith of dexterous genius.'
'Jasper Fforde here mixes nursery rhymes with golden age detective fiction to produce something very accomplished indeed.'
'Fforde's books are more than an ingenious idea. They are written with buoyant zest and are tautly plotted. They have empathetic heroes and heroines who nearly make terribly mistakes and suitably dastardly villains who do. They also have more twists and turns than Christie, and are embellished with the rich details of a Dickens or Pratchett. As Humpty Dumpty's life-story is revealed, the mystery becomes curiouser and curiouser, and the compulsion to find out what is going on increases. A real treat.'
'There is no more familiar genre than the detective story. The problem is that the sleuth story is now so familiar that it's in serious danger of getting boring. What's to be done? Jasper Fforde has the answer. Once you open this book, you'll find it very hard to put down. I've never read anything like this. And I couldn't get enough'
'Fans of the late Douglas Adams or, even, Monty Python, will feel at home with Fforde'
'If you haven't read Jasper Fforde before, THE BIG OVER EASY, is likely to come as a surprise . . . the combination of fantasy and (more of less) classic murder makes a wild and enjoyable change'
'Clever plot lines, wit, and Fforde's unique humorous style ensures the reader is captivated from start to finish. A must for anyone wanting a light-hearted read in a class of its own.'
(Good Book Guide