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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
5,1141701,322 (3.86)306
  1. 60
    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 306 mentions

English (169)  Dutch (1)  All languages (170)
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
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 |
It reads like a Fforde. I enjoy the setting very much. As always, a Ffordeian alternate reality with one or two big gimmicks, and dozens of smaller gimmicks (many of which are too much). Very fun, though not as funny as Fforde thinks. Toward the end, the chapter headings are the funniest parts—which is a problem. ( )
  breic | Feb 3, 2019 |
In case you were worried: No, Jasper Fforde has not run out of weird, twisted things to do to defenseless Literature.

Jack Spratt, his second wife, and their five children (two his, two hers, one theirs) are living happily in Reading, England. Well, reasonably happily. Jack, a policeman, has the dubious honor of being the head of the Nursery Crimes unit. He and his tiny unit believe in the importance of their jobs, but no one else does. And they've just experienced the embarrassing, and more importantly, budgetarily inconvenient, failure to convict the three pigs for the murder of the wolf. As icing on the cake, Jack's old rival, Friedland Chymes, has just wrapped up yet another big case, and is yet again basking in the glow of favorable publicity and departmental approval.

But, on the positive side, DI Jack Spratt has a new assistant, DS Mary Mary, who just transferred to Reading fro Basingstoke—in the hope of working with Friedland Chymes. It's her ambition to be Official Sidekick to the great detective, writing up—and featuring prominently in—the great detective's adventures as recounted in Amazing Crime Stories. Instead she finds herself working with Jack—not even a member of the Guild!

They quickly find themselves investigating the death of one of the many nursery characters residing in Reading, Humpty Stuyvesant van Dumpty, former teacher, millionaire, philanthropist, ex-convict, and egg about town. His death initially appears to be a suicide, but Jack and Mary make sure they cover all the bases, and discover that Humpty was shot, apparently by his ex-wife, who subsequently shoots herself. But something's wrong here, and they can't let it go.

Jack, especially, can't let it go, when Friedland Chymes decides that he wants the case, and pulls out all stops in his efforts to force Jack to hand over the investigation. Jack quickly finds himself caught in the tangles of a plot involving money-laundering, smuggling, and bio-terrorism, while at home he's dealing with magic beans, beanstalks, his own unfortunate reputation for killing giants, and his new boarder, Prometheus. (Yes, of course that Prometheus; he's escaped and has applied for asylum, to the great annoyance of Zeus.)

The Big Over Easy, like the later Tuesday Next books, has the advantage of being an outright fantasy world, rather than slapdash science fiction. And while some of the names, like Mary Mary's, are a bit sillier than they need to be, it's all in keeping with the nursery-rhyme backdrop, rather than the apparent pre-adolescent desire to get a reaction that seemed to inspire some names in the Tuesday Next books, such as Jack Schitt. The invention here is more firmly in the zany fun category, with few lapses into "silly enough to be annoying."

(While Tuesday Next and her family, friends, and enemies are neither seen nor heard from, this is apparently set in the same world, and some of the minor characters, most notably Lola Vavoom, do make appearances.)

Good, light summer fun reading.
( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
There’s something almost magical to be said for a library book sale. Are just so many books, and that cash just can't stay in my pocket. I picked up this book on a whim. Never heard of the author before, but the title sounded interesting and it’d been quite some time since I settled down with a mystery story to boot.

I was excited! It sounded so different, so fun! I immediately told my husband, mother, and mother-in-law all about the synopsis. Reactions ranged from ‘that sounds kind of familiar’ to ‘pretty sure I read that, didn’t you?’. Apparently I’m the only one who hasn’t heard of The Big Over Easy, the author Jasper Fforde, or any of his other books.

The Big Over Easy is the first novel in the Nursery Crime series. It’s a wonderful classic detective story set in Reading, England in a world where ever fairy tale, nursery rhyme, legendary, and mythological character is real. It’s clever, witty, fun, and I loved every second of it.

This is a traditional detective novel with strong roots in fantasy that is just plain fun. Jack is a decently competent detective in the Nursery Crime Division of the police department. Not many people look favorably upon the position, and most leave the underfunded department after several months at the most, using it as a springboard for more illustrious careers. And that is exactly what Mary is planning on doing. But the NCD has its share of headline making cases too.

Detective Jack Spratt and his new assistant, Mary Mary (a nod to ‘quite contrary’ fame), are put on a new case. The venerable Humpty Dumpty, businessman and philanthropist, has been found murdered, smashed to pieces beneath his favorite wall. The case is a tricky one, with clues tying to shady deals in Dumpty’s past, a slew of ex-wives and old lovers, and some of the most successful businessmen and wealthy elite in the city. Even more difficult is dealing with Spratt’s old partner, a detective renowned for his quick crime solving in the face of elaborate, often deadly cases.

While Jack and the rest of Reading are fully aware that Humpty and his other nursery rhyme compatriots are indeed nursery rhyme characters, no one is sure if the characters themselves are aware of this. The gods and semi divine beings, such as Prometheus, are fully aware of their god-like status. The idea of these characters existing in the real world is a good one, and I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel. However, I could never help but feel as if this concept wasn’t really fully fleshed out, instead leaving me with questions.

Let me explain.

Nursery Rhyme characters such as Humpty are mentioned as having birthdays. Now, maybe I’m just overthinking this, but I can’t help but wonder as to world building mechanics. Prometheus is immortal. But what about Humpty and others? The nursery rhyme characters aren’t seemingly handled in the same way, but this isn’t something that is ever expounded upon, instead remaining something of a mystery for both the main characters and readers. While this is clever and cute, I can see some people disliking this aspect of the story.

As for the characters themselves, they were are very likable. Jack was very much an every man, an unsung hero and family man. His five children, though not in too many scenes, were all very distinguishable. Their habits and speech patterns all fit their ages, and each had a distinct personality. Spratt’s team is also filled with interesting, incredibly quirky characters that were all lovably awkward. However, we didn’t quite get too much information outside of their quirks – an alien only speaks in binary, another team member prefers to speak in palindromes. You get the picture.

I was particularly impressed with Humpty Dumpty, though. We never see him alive; the first time we are introduced to the character he is already dead. But through the course of the story we get a very good understanding of his life, passions, and personality. For never being shown in so much as a flashback, we are presented with a surprisingly well rounded character, and I must give the author due credit.

Honestly? I really enjoyed this book. Truly loved every second reading it. But if I am to be honest there were a few times when the book was almost too clever. None of these moments lasted over long, but the nursery rhyme gags are out in full force. For some readers this may be a turnoff, so do be aware of what you’re getting into when you pick up the book.

Do I suggest reading The Big Over Easy? Absolutely. It was tons of fun, and I couldn’t help but smile at some parts. In fact, once I finished this book, I went back to the library and bought used copies of three more of his books. If you are looking for something a little more whimsical and lighthearted from your run of the mill fantasy story, pick up The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. If nursery rhyme characters and murder mysteries aren’t your thing, this book probably won’t be for you. ( )
  kateprice88 | Jul 19, 2018 |
I would more so rate this a 3.5. There were many aspects I liked but others that deterred me from this series and type of books.

I loved the style and how different it was from most novels. Sarcasm, satire, and humor just poured out of the pages. It was a wonderful take on the classic children's stories we hear throughout our lives. However, all of these things that I liked also seemed to fuel my dislike. The sarcasm and humor was often missed. This was due to the difficulty in conveying these tones in pure text. However, the ability to do so even a little bit can be considered talent. Second, while the story of Humpty Dumpty was more common, I had a hard time remembering other tales that may have been discussed. With this, much humor or sub-plots were lost to me.

I also wished I had a little more context of the little exerts in the beginning of each chapter. Some were funny and it was great when I later saw the information used in the chapter. However, I found myself only skimming others and/or being utterly confused as to what they were talking about.

In the end, the book was great entertainment and had me laughing many times. It was a page-turner for the mystery aspect and I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next or trying to solve the crime myself. However, I feel that an appendix or additional information was needed. ( )
  KatiBruneau | May 7, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (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 (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jasper Ffordeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gauld, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Important events
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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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Canonical DDC/MDS

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Wikipedia in English (2)

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143037234, Paperback)

Jasper Fforde's bestselling Thursday Next series has delighted readers of every genre with its literary derring-do and brilliant flights of fancy. In The Big Over Easy, Fforde takes a break from classic literature and tumbles into the seedy underbelly of nursery crime. Meet Inspector Jack Spratt, family man and head of the Nursery Crime Division. He's investigating the murder of ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Dumpty, found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Yes, the big egg is down, and all those brittle pieces sitting in the morgue point to foul play.


Read Jasper Fforde's posts in the Penguin Blog

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:33 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Unconvinced that a former convict and millionaire philanthropist has been murdered by his suicide-victim ex-wife, detective inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant, Mary Mary, battle internal politics while uncovering a plot involving money laundering, bullion smuggling, and asylum-seeking titans. By the author of The Eyre Affair. Reader's Guide available.… (more)

» see all 13 descriptions

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