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The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
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The Big Over Easy (2005)

by Jasper Fforde

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Nursery Crime (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,3511721,343 (3.87)310
Detective Jack Spratt, recently unable to convict three wily pigs in he murder of a certain wolf, meets the challenge of a new case when Humpty Dumpty is found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shady part of town.
Recently added byjawebbtn, rena40, private library, AislinnMc, VeronicaCrothers, Serrana
  1. 70
    The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde (FMRox)
    FMRox: This book includes the characters from The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde as a mild developing plot.
  2. 20
    Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (TomWaitsTables)
  3. 21
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: It's difficult to explain this recommendation without giving spoilers to one or other of the books. There were certain plot elements to Rivers of London/Midnight Riots which made me think of The Big Over Easy. And both books have a well-developed sense of humour.… (more)
  4. 10
    Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce (LittleKnife)
    LittleKnife: Both mysteries with offbeat humour set around real places in the UK
  5. 21
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (jonathankws)
  6. 10
    The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper by Carlie St. George (Euryale)
  7. 00
    The Shootout Solution by Michael R. Underwood (amanda4242)
  8. 11
    Amberville by Tim Davys (wisemetis)
  9. 12
    Who's Afraid of Beowulf? by Tom Holt (Dr.Science)
    Dr.Science: The English author Tom Holt is relatively unknown in America, but very popular in England. If you enjoy Jasper Fforde or Christopher Moore you will most certainly enjoy Tom Holt's wry sense of English humor and the absurd. He has written a number of excellent books including Expecting Someone Taller, and Flying Dutch, but they may be difficult to find at your library or bookstore.… (more)
  10. 01
    The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin (meggyweg)
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» See also 310 mentions

English (171)  Dutch (1)  All languages (172)
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
Clever and funny murder mystery featuring characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Humpty Dumpty falls from a wall - but appears to have been shot first. Jack Spratt (also of beanstalk fame) and Mary Mary (who can be contrary) investigate. There's also lots of puns in the naming of locations and minor characters. Best of all were the beginnings of each chapter, written in the style of book excerpts, news stories, or editorials, that slyly referenced other nursery rhymes or fairy tales and sometimes become relevant to the plot. ( )
  riofriotex | May 31, 2020 |
The Big Over Easy is a prime example of Jasper Fforde’s cleverness and control over the English language. His worlds – always on the edge of some form of magical realism, if they must be categorized at all – are bizarre and curious, and never fail to be interesting. Like the rest of his works, The Big Over Easy is a shining example of his wit and creativity.

I am typically a fast reader, but whenever I’m reading Fforde, I have to take things slowly. If I read at my normal pace, I miss the subtleties in his naming and his clever turns of phrase. Names are rarely just names – they are often mildly disguised puns intended to be revealed as the reader stumbles into them again and again. In that way, his writing can seem a bit cheesy. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoy it.

As for the story itself, The Big Over Easy asks: who killed Humpty Dumpty? As expected, dear Mr. Dumpty sits on a wall and, as is easily predicted, has a great fall. Jack Spratt is tasked with ruling whether or not it is a suicide or a murder, and he’s faced with numerous twists and obstacles. His division (the Nursery Crime Division) is being shut down, a famous relic is coming through town, his old career nemesis is trying to scoop him, and his daughter is suddenly engaged to a Titan. While not all of these things are out of the norm for Jack, they are still stressful. There’s a lot of time in the book spent interviewing various suspects, with a few casual asides to Jack’s home life (which, while entertaining, were not altogether useful to the story). The story feels like a regular cop show, and not as noir as I personally hoped. There are quite a few twists, both of the expected and unexpected variety.

Here’s the thing with Jasper Fforde and his twists – you simply must accept them. As with his Thursday Next series, whatever is least likely is probably what happened, and the more outlandish the explanation, the better. For many other writers, this would result in an eye roll and shoving the book aside… but Fforde? Somehow, he pulls it all off and does it brilliantly. So if you read this book and guess the final twist, you’ve earned a cookie. I was way off.

The characters were not very interesting. While I felt like I got to know a couple of them a little bit, I never really felt like anyone stood out. For me, this is a general complaint about Fforde. Each character is given a history and quirks, but I’ve never had an emotional reaction to any of them? This isn’t to say they’re poorly written, just that stylistically, character isn’t the most important thing here and it shows.

Pacing is what got me the most, and that was in part because of the excessive dialogue and witty comments – I was unable to immerse myself fully. In addition to this, I was reading more slowly than I like to, and as such, made slower progress. For whatever complaints I may have though, I can’t deny that Jasper Fforde is in a field of his own. He defies genres and utterly messes with my rating system because I thought this book was fantastic as a whole… it’s just the individual pieces I didn’t love? But when you mix them all together and add his voice, it’s a brilliantly fun story and I’m here for the next one. ( )
  Morteana | Feb 17, 2020 |
When the shattered remains of Humpty Dumpty are found, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt from the Nursery Crime Division along with his new Detective Sergeant Mary Mary are called in to investigate. While it initially appears Humpty's death may have been accidental or suicide, as Jack and Mary dig deeper it appears it may have been murder most foul.

The first book in the Nursery Crime series is an utter delight. A well-crafted mystery with plenty of twists and turns is accompanied by Fforde's quirky sense of humour and plenty of puns and twists on both nursery rhymes and classic detective fiction. This series appears to exist in the same universe as Thursday Next (Lola Vavoom makes an appearance) but this series stands very well on its own. Recommended if you're in the mood for a funny, slightly weird mystery. ( )
  MickyFine | Sep 6, 2019 |
This book is an absolute joy. Clever without malice, Fforde sends up the English detective fiction genre via nursery crime. Quick reading and unassuming; a great start to a series. The imperfections are slight: slightly inconsistent tone, occasional groaners with the fable jokes, some minor characters not fully fleshed. Nevertheless, all the flaws, such as they are, are overwhelmed by the warm appeal of the main characters. ( )
  Eoin | Jun 3, 2019 |
My copy has a major printer's error, pages 197-260 are duplicated (starting at the first 260) and ends at 324. Just the thing to ruin a mystery story, not that this one was particularly good if the half-coherant Wikipedia summary is to be trusted.

I haven't found any information of this frustrating error anywhere else online. I half-read this before for a class but stopped when I reached the duplicate pages, I didn't think the whole ending was gone though. Urgh. I'll have to see if I can find another copy of this so I can actually finish it, too.

For now though, I can say that the story was playful and irreverent, but ultimately not meeting the expectations I developed after learning of the connection of D.I. Jack Spratt to Thursday Next in 'The Well of Lost Plots'. This has all the nods to genre expectations, nursery and crime, that I wanted but little of the warmth I detected in the first 'Thursday Next' books.

Nursery Crime

Next: 'The Fourth Bear' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
[W]hile Thursday Next was a detective and Jack Spratt is a detective, the feel and the tone of this particular, new homage is totally different, new, and a lot of fun.
added by Katya0133 | editFantasy & Science Fiction, Michelle West (Feb 1, 2006)
 
The wildly imaginative Fforde delights in satirizing the clichés of detective fiction.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Michael Adams (Nov 15, 2005)
 
His self-styled "daft novels" are not for the lazy brained but for the actively engaged reader, one who knows the secret pleasures of a word puzzle and can draw on a lifetime of literature.
added by Katya0133 | editUSA Today, Anita Sama (Jul 28, 2005)
 
Outrageous satirical agility is his stock in trade: Mr. Fforde has made that clear in a string of literary parodies that pry well-known characters loose from their native novels and plays.
added by Katya0133 | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Jul 22, 2005)
 
Full of allusions and puns on detective fiction and nursery rhymes, Fforde's fifth novel and first in a new series is good fun for all fiction collections. Highly recommended.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Devon Thomas (Jul 1, 2005)
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fforde, JasperAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gauld, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king's horses
And all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
—Traditional
Dedication
For my brother Mathew,
whose love of the absurd—
and the profound—
enlightened my childhood
First words
It was the week following Easter in Reading, and no one could remember the last sunny day.
Quotations
And she was from Basingstoke, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
If it weren't for greed, intolerance, hate, passion and murder, you would have no works of art, no great buildings, no medical science, no Mozart, no Van Gough, no Muppets and no Louis Armstrong.
Mr. Pewter led them through to a library, filled with thousands of antiquarian books.
'Impressive, eh?'
'Very,' said Jack. 'How did you amass all these?'
'Well,' said Pewter, 'You know the person who always borrows books and never gives them back?'
'Yes...?'
'I'm that person.
Try to be pleasant to one another, get plenty of fresh air, read a good book now and then, depose your government when it suspends the free press, try to use the mechanism of the state to adjudicate fairly and employ diplomatic means wherever possible to avoid armed conflict.
Father liked word games. He was fourteen times world Scrabble champion. When he died, we buried him at Queenzieburn to make use of the triple word score
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