Jasper Fforde goes all CSI on Humpty Dumpty in The Big Over Easy

class=img_thumbleft>Jasper Fforde is known for his four-volume Thursday Next detective series, in which Next was prone to travelling via a "Prose Portal" into novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, interacting with the characters thereby alternating the plots themselves. Fforde supposedly bemoaned his cult status and hoped his current effort, The Big Over Easy, would appeal to the those without a masters degree in literature by delving into the world of nursery rhymes instead. Jack Spratt, beleaguered detective and notorious giant killer, heads up the Nursery Crime Division, and is charged with finding out who killed alcoholic womanizer Humpty Dumpty, found in a hundred pieces under his favorite sitting wall. An ambitious young detective named Mary Mary assists Spratt in interviewing witnesses and suspects such as Solomon Grundy, Wee Willie Winkie, and incarcerated mob boss Giorgio "Georgie Porgy" Porgia.

What Fforde has crafted is a hard-boiled (no pun intended) detective novel made whimsical through the use of beloved childern's book characters, with aliens, aging starlets, and a certain oversized beanstalk thrown in for good measure. It's a charming book, mostly when we witness Spratt's home life, with his beloved second wife (guess how his first wife, who could eat no lean, died) and his boarder Prometheus (yes, that Prometheus) who catches the eye of Spratt's eldest daughter, Pandora (no, not that Pandora).

Let me know if you've read the book by adding your comments below, and, if you liked it, look for Spratt and Mary to join forces once again in next year's The Fourth Bear. And if your "nursery crime" fix isn't sated, see Humpty Dumpty's murder investigated by a teddy bear named Eddie in The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse.