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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can Reading get any more dangerous?
Crimes are afoot and only one man can hope to untangle the web of intrigue that surrounds them. That man however has a secret, a PDR related secret...

DCI Jack Spratt and DS Mary Mary return to fight crime in the Reading's devilish underbelly ably supported by the slightly underused (in this book) Gretel but the sublimely used DC Ash - who by chance is an...
Published on 9 Aug. 2006 by Chris Chalk

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Another one?
I liked this, don't get me wrong. It's a good read and I love Fforde's continuing experiment with what might happen if you bring fictional characters into the 'real' world, but this novel lacks much in the way of a new idea. The detective plot is a bit plodding (though certainly readable) and there isn't much character development from the previous novel. It's a...
Published on 24 April 2011 by Hazel


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can Reading get any more dangerous?, 9 Aug. 2006
By 
Chris Chalk "Chris" (Croydon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fourth Bear (Hardcover)
Crimes are afoot and only one man can hope to untangle the web of intrigue that surrounds them. That man however has a secret, a PDR related secret...

DCI Jack Spratt and DS Mary Mary return to fight crime in the Reading's devilish underbelly ably supported by the slightly underused (in this book) Gretel but the sublimely used DC Ash - who by chance is an alien...

Jack works for the NCD (Nursery Crime Division) and when a reporter is found dead and in a lot of pieces you wouldn't imagine this to be a case that would come under his jurisdiction. However the dead reporter has a rather famous name - Goldilocks. Immediately alerted Jack follows the trail to the 3 bears where immediately he realised Goldilocks' fate was sealed from the moment she ate the porridge... What he also concludes is that maybe all is not as it should be in the Bears household, and who could this mysterious 4th bear be?

The level of intrigue and suspense that Jasper Fforde injects into his books is wonderful, he even manages to add in pointless characters (Dorian Grey) that have unexpected but at the same time completely expected consequences! His use of clichés and expected plot twists is wonderful, I mean how can a book joke about which plot devise they are going to use, then use it and yet the reader is still going to sit there wondering how it all happened!?

It is genius!

The only reason this book doesn't get the full 5 stars is the slightly too obvious ending. By Obvious I don't that the main protagonist is clear from the outset I mean that the way in which the ending is played out is just a little too Hercule Poirot for my liking, Jack and Mary may as well have lined up all the suspects in a room to reveal the bad guy...

That however is only a small gripe and to be honest I am probably only being slightly harsh because of how much I am impressed by all of the other books he has done! I loved the character extension with the relationship between Jack and his wife Madeleine and also the hugely comic Punch & Judy.

Read, enjoy and leave your sense of reality firmly by the door...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outrageous Fun!, 18 Sept. 2006
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Fourth Bear (Hardcover)
When was the last time you read a totally off-the-wall novel that stretched your imagination past where it had ever been before? Much as I've enjoyed Mr. Fforde's earlier works (The Big Over Easy in this series and The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten in the Thursday Next series), The Fourth Bear took me to new and more interesting places than I had enjoyed in many years. It was much like the experience of first reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The Nursery Crime Division is back again with Jack Spratt, Mary Mary and Ashley (the alien) pursuing offbeat crimes involving Persons of Dubious Reality (fictional characters). As usual, the members of NCD are constantly being shunted aside, put on probation and ordered off serious cases. But they soldier on in hilarious offbeat fashion. We get to know each of them better in this novel as the story extends to include their relations with the opposite sex.

There are so many oddball threads to this story that you'll wonder how in the world they might be connected. But it doesn't really matter, because each page is full of standalone wit, satire and outrageous good fun.

I hesitate to describe much about the book except to note that it features a homicidal killer, the Gingerbreadman, who is a sort of edible version of an angry Wookie. He likes to tear the arms off his victims. You'll learn a lot about cucumbers and their potential. In addition, the hidden side of several storybook characters will be revealed in surprising ways.

As in The Big Over Easy, the overall novel is written as a police procedural (which aspect itself is quite a satire of the genre). There are solid clues embedded throughout that will safely lead you to the right conclusions . . . if you can stop goggling over the very funny material on every page long enough to pay attention to the clues.

I had an immediate urge to reread the book as soon as I finished it. I cannot remember the last time I had that reaction to a novel.

Be prepared for un-ending laughter!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply fantastic, 18 Nov. 2007
It's quite simple: Jasper Fforde knows how to write well. That's it. All the quirky elements to his universe are secondary to his engaging and etertaining style. The fact that the universe measures up is a bonus.

I cannot wait for more from the NCD. The stories are so well crafted that it must be difficult to keep the standard high, but so far in this series, and the Thursday Next series, Fforde has not disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Book From The World of the NCD., 19 Oct. 2007
By 
Matt (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Following on seamlessly from A Big Over Easy (the first book in the NCD series), The Fourth Bear picks up the story again only a few weeks later. The NCD shone in the brief glory of the Humpty Dumpty case before suffering unfavourable press after the debacle that was the three little pigs murder charge fiasco.

The story starts with the escape of the psycopathic Gingerbreadman from St Cerabellums, a woefully inadequate mental hospital where he has been held for the last twenty years. At the same time, Jack Spratt and Mary Mary start to investigate the disappearance of Goldilocks and how cucumbers tie into the whole story.

Jack also is having trouble at home with Punch and Judy move in next door and his daughter about to marry the Titan Prometheus.

If you enjoyed The Big Over Easy then you shouldn't hesitate in buying this book as well, it's as silly and as funny and just as entertaining. A definite good read!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done Jasper Fforde, 17 Sept. 2006
This review is from: The Fourth Bear (Hardcover)
This book has some fantastic references to nursery rhymes and this, coupled with the wornderful and rather artistic way in which Jasper Fforde writes not to mention the humour (my family complained about the way I would burst into laughter at odd moments - that is until I got them to read it) make this a very enjoyable read.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has ever heard a nursery rhyme, anyone who enjoys humour or anyone who likes a good crime novel.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The funniest yet, 9 July 2006
By 
L O'connor (richmond, surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fourth Bear (Hardcover)
This is the second volume in Jsper Fforde's series about Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crimes Division of the Reading police force. Spratt's triumph in the Humpty Dumpt affair ('The big Over Easy')has been overshadowed by some subsequent failures (Red Riding Hood and her Granny swallowed by the Big Bad Wolf). Now the Gingerbreadman, a psychotic killer, has escaped from jail, an investigative reporter called Goldilocks has been murdered, and there are sinister things happening in the world of competitive cucumber growing.

Inspector Jack Spratt also has other things to worry about, like revealing to his wife the awkward fact that he is a PDR (person of dubious reality), his daughter Pandora's upcoming wedding to the titan Prometheus, the trouble with the new neighbours, Punch and Judy, and their unending cycle of domestic violence, and of course there is the profound question to be debated of whether the Gingerbreadman is a cake or a buiscuit (this is more important than it might seem).

I found myself laughing at this book more than any of the previous Jasper Ffordes, the characters are amusing and interesting (especially Ashley the alien policeman, and his famly who strive not very succesfully to live like humans). The plot is ingenious as always, and there is a very exciting climax. Very enjoyable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Goldilocks, 16 April 2009
By 
Rotgut "rotgut" (Warrington UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Jasper Fforde's ingenious "Thursday Next series is showing some signs of running out of steam: the pseudoscience of hopping into fictional universes can eventually pall. What a good idea, then, to take the best bits of the "Thursday" series: interaction between well known characters from books, tongue-in-cheek investigations, continuing ,likeable protagonists, and transplant these elements into a new series, without the convoluted backstory from "Lost In A Good Book" and the rest of the "Next" novels.

And so, we have "The Fourth Bear" the second instalment in the "Nursery Crimes" series, featuring (mainly) characters from traditional children's stories rather than from Dickens or the Brontes. Here Fforde worries less about explanations and just exploits the odd but amusing scenario he has created. A fun read, packed with groan inducing puns (e.g. the law of "the right to arm bears")as well as thrills and spills.

It is impossible to dislike a book in which when one character dies, and his mysterious final words are "It's full of holes!", it is suggested he may have been talking about "the plot."

Perhaps a bit longer than it needs to be, this spoof detective novel featuring Jack Spratt does, in fact, carry a bit of fat.(E.g. the subplots about the alien race living in Berkshire don't really go anywhere.)But generally, this is an entertaining and engaging read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as The Big Over Easy, 29 Aug. 2006
This review is from: The Fourth Bear (Hardcover)
I thought it was too good to be true - an author like Jasper Fforde whose writing is new, original and hillariously funny, and what's more, keeps on being funny, book after book. Sadly, I felt with "The Fourth Bear" that Fforde's inventive genius had hit it's first stumbling block. The tour de force that was "The Big Over Easy" perhaps meant that its successor had a lot to live up to, but I don't think it quite managed it. I felt almost that Fforde was running out of ideas and falling into the cliches that he has so far so skillfully avoided.

However, this is still a very good book. Not as good as "The Big Over Easy" but a well written murder mystery nonetheless. I loved the way that Ashley the alien and his famliy got a much bigger part, Dorian Grey turning up as a used-car salesman, and the return to concepts vaguely hinted at in the previous book, such as Somme World and Anderson's wood.

A few things that just didn't ring true for me were Jack's continual suspensions on psychiatric grounds and having to break it to his wife that he is a PDR (person of dubious reality). Just too cliche for me from an author who is master of breaking the mould.

Oh, and the Pippa joke, when it finally comes, is worth the wait...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outrageous Fun!, 5 Oct. 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
When was the last time you read a totally off-the-wall novel that stretched your imagination past where it had ever been before? Much as I've enjoyed Mr. Fforde's earlier works (The Big Over Easy in this series and The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten in the Thursday Next series), The Fourth Bear took me to new and more interesting places than I had enjoyed in many years. It was much like the experience of first reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The Nursery Crime Division is back again with Jack Spratt, Mary Mary and Ashley (the alien) pursuing offbeat crimes involving Persons of Dubious Reality (fictional characters). As usual, the members of NCD are constantly being shunted aside, put on probation and ordered off serious cases. But they soldier on in hilarious offbeat fashion. We get to know each of them better in this novel as the story extends to include their relations with the opposite sex.

There are so many oddball threads to this story that you'll wonder how in the world they might be connected. But it doesn't really matter, because each page is full of standalone wit, satire and outrageous good fun.

I hesitate to describe much about the book except to note that it features a homicidal killer, the Gingerbreadman, who is a sort of edible version of an angry Wookie. He likes to tear the arms off his victims. You'll learn a lot about cucumbers and their potential. In addition, the hidden side of several storybook characters will be revealed in surprising ways.

As in The Big Over Easy, the overall novel is written as a police procedural (which aspect itself is quite a satire of the genre). There are solid clues embedded throughout that will safely lead you to the right conclusions . . . if you can stop goggling over the very funny material on every page long enough to pay attention to the clues.

I had an immediate urge to reread the book as soon as I finished it. I cannot remember the last time I had that reaction to a novel.

Be prepared for unending laughter!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outrageous Fun!, 18 Sept. 2006
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
When was the last time you read a totally off-the-wall novel that stretched your imagination past where it had ever been before? Much as I've enjoyed Mr. Fforde's earlier works (The Big Over Easy in this series and The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten in the Thursday Next series), The Fourth Bear took me to new and more interesting places than I had enjoyed in many years. It was much like the experience of first reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The Nursery Crime Division is back again with Jack Spratt, Mary Mary and Ashley (the alien) pursuing offbeat crimes involving Persons of Dubious Reality (fictional characters). As usual, the members of NCD are constantly being shunted aside, put on probation and ordered off serious cases. But they soldier on in hilarious offbeat fashion. We get to know each of them better in this novel as the story extends to include their relations with the opposite sex.

There are so many oddball threads to this story that you'll wonder how in the world they might be connected. But it doesn't really matter, because each page is full of standalone wit, satire and outrageous good fun.

I hesitate to describe much about the book except to note that it features a homicidal killer, the Gingerbreadman, who is a sort of edible version of an angry Wookie. He likes to tear the arms off his victims. You'll learn a lot about cucumbers and their potential. In addition, the hidden side of several storybook characters will be revealed in surprising ways.

As in The Big Over Easy, the overall novel is written as a police procedural (which aspect itself is quite a satire of the genre). There are solid clues embedded throughout that will safely lead you to the right conclusions . . . if you can stop goggling over the very funny material on every page long enough to pay attention to the clues.

I had an immediate urge to reread the book as soon as I finished it. I cannot remember the last time I had that reaction to a novel.

Be prepared for un-ending laughter!
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The Fourth Bear
The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (Hardcover - 6 July 2006)
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