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The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
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The Fourth Bear (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Jasper Fforde

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3,223981,720 (4)1 / 170
Member:Socken
Title:The Fourth Bear
Authors:Jasper Fforde
Info:Viking (2006), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Work details

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (2006)

  1. 60
    The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde (one-horse.library)
    one-horse.library: See how this book was constructed, with the help of Thursday Next!
  2. 20
    Fables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham (one-horse.library)
  3. 00
    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)
  4. 00
    Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce (bertilak)
  5. 04
    The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin (tortoise)
    tortoise: Rankin's book covers a lot of the same comedic ground as The Fourth Bear, and I found it considerably better-constructed.
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English (95)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (98)
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
I read The Big Over Easy a number of years ago, and liked it well enough to pick up its sequel, this book, The Fourth Bear, immediately upon its release, but I didn't quite like the first well enough to read the second and it has thus sat on my shelves for years collecting dust. In the meantime, I've read a number of other Jasper Fforde novels (three in the Thursday Next series which I liked immensely and Shades of Grey which I like not quite as much) and have developed quite an appreciation for the man. So when this one was recommended to me—nicely fitting into my need for something light and airy after reading a trilogy Margaret Atwood novels—I figured it would serve my "palate cleansing" needs nicely. Quite right.

If you're looking for serious fiction, this isn't it. Nor is any of Fforde's books, so I can steer you away from that entire section of the bookstore if that's the case. He is, first and foremost, fun. This book is an excellent example. He doesn't take himself too seriously.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about (and only very minor spoilers to follow). After sprinkling a few odd references to "PC Philippa Piper" in the first 317 pages of text ("odd" because she has absolutely nothing to do with any of the narrative, plot or our main characters at all), mostly dealing with her being "the most attractive officer at Reading Central" with ample speculation about her single status and who she might choose to date next, Fforde delivers this exchange:

"Did you know that Pippa has a bun in the oven?"
"You're kidding!"
"No, she was talking to her mother all about it. And what's more," continued Ashley, "the father is Peck—you know, in uniform with the pockmarked face and the twin over in Palmer Park?"
"What's going on?" asked Mary.
"Pippa's pregnant by Peck."
"Pippa Piper picked Peck over Pickle or Pepper?" exclaimed Mary incredulously.
"Which of the Peck pair did Pippa Piper pick?"
"Peter 'pockmarked' Peck of Palmer Park. He was the Peck that Pippa Piper picked."
"No, no," returned Mary, "you've got it all wrong. Paul Peck is the Palmer Park Peck; Peter Peck is the pockmarked Peck from Pembroke Park. Pillocks. I'd placed a pound on Pippa Piper picking PC Percy Proctor from Pocklington."

But what I really love about this book is the post-modern, metafictional elements, evidenced here in the very next lines in the book following the above:

There was a pause.
"It seems a very laborious setup for a pretty lame joke, doesn't it?" mused Jack.
"Yes," agreed Mary, shaking her head sadly. "I really don’t know how he gets away with it."

Now, on TV or in the movies, that would be a fourth-wall breaking aside to the audience, a little wink and a nod, but in a novel, the "he" referred to is Fforde himself. He litters the novel with self-referential (metafictions) elements like that, from the characters openly discussing common plot devices to this line near the end where Jack (our protagonist) tries to jump to conclusions and reveal a big plot twist, not once but twice, both incorrectly, in quick succession, when another character steps in and says:

"Jack, calm down. I think you're suffering a temporary excess of resolutions."

Post-modernism was never so much fun. And while I doubt The Fourth Bear is going to make it onto any graduate level literature syllabi, it's a joy to read for anyone interested in various metafictional tricks an author might employ to allow a reader to slip in and out of the frame of the novel.

(And before I forget, it's actually a very clever mystery novel. That's been discussed at length in other reviews, so I'll skip it here, but Fforde really put a lot of thought into it. The fact that the entire plot grows from the "porridge temperature differential" in the original Goldilocks tale is genius.) ( )
  invisiblelizard | Mar 1, 2014 |
The Gingerbread Man may be my favorite villian ever -- this book merits four stars if only for the scene where he toys with the psychiatrists in the mental hospital. The love story is absolutely awesome as well. ( )
  bradgers | Feb 6, 2014 |
I don't like this series as much as Thursday Next--the puns seem cheesier and the rewards less dramatic. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
It's pretty good so far! I definitely enjoy the Thursday Next series more, though, and I'm really excited for the next book coming after Shades of Grey! ( )
  katrinamariehh | Dec 15, 2013 |
DI Jack Spratt (yes, that Jack Spratt) of the Nursery Crime division investigates several mysteries inlcuding one involving the death of Goldilocks and the escape of The Gingerbread Man.
Fforde does an amazing job telling a story that is part Science Fiction, part fantasy but all whilst following a police procedural mystery format. The plot is amazing and never anything I could have forseen while the characters are unbelievably three dimensional despite being well known nursery characters. ( )
  FMRox | Oct 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
Fforde is crazy; he’s all over the place. He’s aware of the conventions he’s mocking, he mocks them openly, and he still has a really decent romp of a mystery novel on his hands.
added by Katya0133 | editFantasy & Science Fiction, Michelle West (Feb 1, 2007)
 
Though his characters' self-awareness may ultimately defeat the suspense of The Fourth Bear, the loss of the more standard forms of mystery magic is more than compensated for by Fforde's superb comedic skills.
added by Katya0133 | editUSA Today, Eliot Schrefer (Aug 17, 2006)
 
Great fun for all fiction collections.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Devon Thomas (Aug 1, 2006)
 
Chockablock with puns, literary allusions, groanworthy asides, and playful dismantling of the police procedural . . . The Fourth Bear will appeal to fans of whimsy, silliness, or plain old nonsense.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist (Aug 1, 2006)
 
This sequel offers literary allusions, confusions and gentle satire, though, again like its predecessor, it lacks the snap of the author's Thursday Next series.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (Jun 26, 2006)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jasper Ffordeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Belanger, FrancescaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gauld, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meconis, DylanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mudron, BillIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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People/Characters
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Epigraph
Because the Forest will always be there...and anybody who is Friendly with Bears can find it. --A.A. Milne
Dedication
For my mother
First words
Last known regional post-code allocation: Obscurity, Berkshire, Pop.: 35.

The little village of Obscurity is remarkable only for its unremarkableness.

Quotations
"When did he escape?"
"Ninety-seven minutes ago," replied Copperfield. "Killed two male nurses and his doctor with his bare hands. The other three orderlies who accompanied him are critical in the hospital."
"Critical?"
"Yes. Don't like the food, beds uncomfortable, waiting lists too long—usual crap. Other than that they're fine."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The Gingerbreadman - psychopath, sadist, convicted murderer and cake/biscuit - is loose on the streets of Reading.

It isn't Jack Spratt's case. Despite the success of the Humpty Dumpty investigation, the well publicised failure to prevent Red Riding-Hood and her Gran being eaten once again plunges the Nursery Crime Division into controversy. Enforced non-involvement with the Gingerbreadman hunt looks to be frustrating until a chance encounter at the oddly familiar Deja-Vu Club leads them onto the hunt for missing journalist Henrietta 'Goldy' Hatchett, star reporter for The Daily Toad.

The last witnesses to see her alive were The Three Bears, comfortably living out a life of rural solitude in Andersen's wood. But all is not what it seems. Are the unexplained explosions around the globe somehow related to missing nuclear scientist Angus McGuffin? Is cucumber-growing really that dangerous? Why are National Security involved? But most important of all: How could the bears' porridge be at such disparate temperatures when they were poured at the same time?
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143038923, Paperback)

The inimitable Jasper Fforde gives readers another delightful mash-up of detective fiction and nursery rhyme, returning to those mean streets where no character is innocent. The Gingerbreadman—sadist, psychopath, cookie—is on the loose in Reading, but that’s not who Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary are after. Instead, they’ve been demoted to searching for missing journalist “Goldy” Hatchett. The last witnesses to see her alive were the reclusive Three Bears, and right away Spratt senses something furry—uh, funny—about their story, starting with the porridge. The Fourth Bear is a delirious new romp from our most irrepressible fabulist.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:56 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Jack Spratt and Mary Mary return in their second Nursery Crime adventure.--From publisher description.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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