The Big Over Easy (2006)

by Jasper Fforde

It takes a certain kind of fanciful reader to appreciate Jasper Fforde. The British writer sets his novels in alternative universes and showers them with literary allusions and plays on words. He became known for a series featuring a detective named Thursday Next. Set in an alternative England where literature is more important than in our own world, the books blur the line between fiction and reality, allowing characters to jump in and out of novels.

The Big Over Easy is the first book in another series featuring Detective Inspector Jack Spratt in the Nursery Crime Division in Reading, England, where ordinary humans, characters from nursery rhymes, aliens, and anthropomorphized animals live together. The Nursery Crime Division is at the bottom of the police totem pole and threatened with elimination after a series of failures to convict, so Jack and and his assistant, Sergeant Mary Mary, want a winner. Humpty Dumpty has been murdered. Jack and Mary have to fight off the underhanded attempts of the star detective, a publicity hound, to grab the case as they go about investigating the many suspects. One delightful thing about the book is that it works as a real detective story even as Fforde spoofs the whodunit genre.

The second book in the Nursery Crime series, The Fourth Bear (2007), focuses on Goldilocks and the Three Bears.


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