The International Writers Magazine: Review
Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
A Nursery Crime Story
Viking Adult - List $24.95
Review by Gemma Roxanne Williams
Easter in Reading- a bad time for eggs- and no one can remember
the last sunny day. Ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Stuyvesant
van Dumpty, minor baronet, ex-convict, and former millionaire
philanthropist, is found shattered to death beneath a wall in
a shabby area of town. All the evidence points to his ex-wife,
who has conveniently shot herself.
Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary remain unconvinced,
a sentiment not shared with their superiors at the Reading Police Department,
who are still smarting over their failure to convict the Three Pigs
of murdering Mr. Wolff. Before long Jack and Mary find themselves grappling
with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, bullion
smuggling, problems with beanstalks, titans seeking asylum, and the
cut and thrust world of international chiropody.
And on top of all that, the JellyMan is coming to town . . ."
Fforde clashes genres in "The Big
Over Easy", with an intriguing, often chaotic mixture of
the typical whodunit and a glance at an adult world of childrens
nursery rhymes. What could have sounded like drunken ramblings; a giant
egg killed, a police division dedicated to solving nursery related crimes,
aliens working alongside the police, actually sounds witty and insightful,
as well as brilliantly entertaining.
Through the medium of Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant,
constable Mary Mary (yes, as in quite contrary) we encounter
Mr Wolff and the three pigs, Mrs Hubbard (and her boneless cupboard),
and are entertained with serious detective crimes such as the discovery
of "illegal straw-into-gold dens" and asylum seeking Titans.
This frenzied combination of plots and characters from nursery rhymes
alongside serious detective mysteries, with enough twists and turns
to keep even the most hardcore mystery fans guessing, keeps the reader
fascinated despite a sometimes weak plot. A sprinkling of characters
and plots from other stories, ranging from childrens tales to
ancient mythology, keeps the reader guessing as well as looking forward
to the rest of the nursery crime series.
Characters are well developed, from the loveable Spratt to the love-to-hate-him
Friedland Chymes. Running alongside the chaotic mixture of these two
worlds and the heinous crimes this produces, is the Most Worshipful
Guild of Detectives, constantly complicating already complex cases,
in order to produce a more exiting story for the "Amazing Crime
Stories" magazine; considered by some to be more important than
actually solving the crime.
This is primarily silly stuff, easy reading, and a good laugh; but Fforde
has cunningly interspersed the story with serious issues and complex
thoughts so that the reader feels it to be silly stuff well worth a
read. Surprisingly clever, constantly engaging, and well worth a read.
Bring on the next in the series!
© Gemma Roxanne Williams June '05
also Life Studies by Susan Vreeland
all rights reserved