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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
5,7421801,788 (3.87)328
Fiction. Mystery. Mythology. Humor (Fiction.) HTML:Enter the world of the Nursery Crime Division in this novel from Jasper Fforde, the New York Times bestselling author of the Thursday Next series and The Constant Rabbit

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.

"[Forde] knows a thing or two about leaping into new worlds. . . . It's hard not to see what all the enthusiasm is about." -Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"A wonderfully readable riot." -The Wall Street Journal.
… (more)
  1. 80
    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. 01: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (TomWaitsTables)
  3. 10
    Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce (LittleKnife)
    LittleKnife: Both mysteries with offbeat humour set around real places in the UK
  4. 21
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (jonathankws)
  5. 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)
  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. 00
    CUFFED: A Detective Goldie Locks Mystery by J. A. Kazimer (Litrvixen)
    Litrvixen: Detective Goldilocks has to solve the murder of who killed the giant from "Jack and the Beanstalk" and the main suspect is her ex Jack B.Nimble.
  9. 00
    The Third Pig Detective Agency by Bob Burke (Litrvixen)
  10. 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)
  11. 01
    The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin (meggyweg)
  12. 12
    Amberville by Tim Davys (wisemetis)
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» See also 328 mentions

English (179)  Dutch (1)  All languages (180)
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
First in a series about the Nursery Crimes Division, this is an extended joke on the theme of nursery rhymes, fairy tales and the police procedural crime novel, in a world where detectives are approved more for their ability to develop an interesting narrative, written up by their Official Sidekicks, rather than doing actual police work, and the temptation to embelish leads to exaggeration and even 'fixing' of results. In such a world, honest Jack Spratt (who eats no fat, of course), head of the NCD, stands out and is ridiculed and threatened with his division's closure, while his enemy, the top detective Chymes Friedland tries to engineer his downfall. Friedland wants a plum case - the demise of Humpty Dumpty - and does everything possible to discredit Spratt to get it transferred to him, even though he normally belittles the nature of NCD cases and so it is a mystery why he wants it, something never explained.

Lots of nursery rhyme characters appear and the odd fairy tale one such as Rapunzle. There are a few other characters, though refreshingly after the Thursday Next punning ones, some have normal names such as Briggs. I didn't find the world in which this is set quite as wearing either, since it doesn't have time travel/travel into books/constant overload of nutty happenings. Although it vaguely fits into the same universe as the Thursday Next books - at one point, Spratt's DC is driving and pulls out into a road whereupon she is hooted at by a colourful sports car which readers of the (I think second) Thursday Next novels may remember happened from Thursday's perspective - she hooted at a car that pulled out and steered round it - there isn't the everpresent Goliath Corporation and weird inventions etc that are such a fixture of the Next novels. This series is more 'normal' in that respect and takes its form from the police procedural genre albeit with magic beanstalk and other fantasy features. The main issue with it is that it does go on a bit too long, with a lot of repetition of Spratt and his DC Mary Mary going to see various people and interviewing them, and then working out a bit more of the case - I know that is the genre but it did seem rather slow in development. As with the Next books, none of the characters are 'real', with the possible exception of Jack who has a bit more development with a home life shown, wife, children and lodger, though he still isn't very convincing as a real person.

In short, the book is a lightweight entertaining read - some of the funniest bits are the extracts from faked up publications which head the chapters - but not a keeper and I'm not interested enough to read another in the series. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
See the review of 'The Eyre Affair'. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 13, 2023 |
I shelved Fforde's books for years at the bookstore and always thought they sounded interesting, but never got around to reading one until a book group I've been longing to participate in met on a night I could attend. I enjoyed reading the book--toward the end when I was starting to think let's wrap this up already, something huge happened that completely caught me off guard that made for a thrilling end. The book wasn't laugh out loud funny for me, but there's lots of good humor and Fforde's imagination is was a joy to behold. I plan on trying his Thursday Next series. Oh, and our book club discussion was a lot of fun although we spent an indecorous amount of time discussing how a male ladies-man-of-an-egg would go about doing all that humping. ( )
  Chris.Wolak | Oct 13, 2022 |
This book... I have so many random thoughts about this book. In no particular order:

1. Easily the most highly quotable book I've ever read. Including books of quotes.
One of my favourites:

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.'

Don't know why, but that cracked me up.

2. I'm pretty sure Fforde had no intention of writing a satire (based on what I've found on the interwebs) about the sensationalism of the free press, but this is definitely a case of current events shaping a reader's interpretation of the text. I had a really hard time reading this and not drawing parallels.

3. I'm equally sure he definitely meant to write a satirised murder mystery and this was easily the closest I've ever read to my blog's namesake movie, Murder By Death, which in my totally biased opinion is the acme of mystery satire. Which brings me to another quote:

Dog Walker's Face Body-Finding Ban

Anyone who finds a corpse while walking their dog may be fined if proposed legislation is made law, it was disclosed yesterday. The new measures, part of the Criminal Narrative Improvement Bill, have been drafted to avoid investigations looking clichéd...

Now this is legislation I can get behind.

4. I wish I'd picked this book up directly after reading The Well of Lost Plots. It makes no difference to someone new to Fforde's books, but I think those that have read TN would feel a stronger connection to the characters here when The Well... was still fresh in the memory.

5. Prometheus has an incredible monologue on pages 271-273. A popular fiction novel that can weave serious philosophy into its narrative always earns huge bonus points with me.

6. Oh, yeah - good mystery plot too!

Off to order the second one... ( )
  murderbydeath | Jan 18, 2022 |
I had forgotten that these are in the same Thursday Next universe. I chuckled and finished it but it didn't sweep me along. The ultimate cause of death in the whodunnit was very good. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 179 (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, Jasperprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gauld, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Related movies
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
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Fiction. Mystery. Mythology. Humor (Fiction.) HTML:Enter the world of the Nursery Crime Division in this novel from Jasper Fforde, the New York Times bestselling author of the Thursday Next series and The Constant Rabbit

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.

"[Forde] knows a thing or two about leaping into new worlds. . . . It's hard not to see what all the enthusiasm is about." -Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"A wonderfully readable riot." -The Wall Street Journal.

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