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The Fourth Bear (2006)

by Jasper Fforde

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Nursery Crime (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,8331112,323 (3.99)1 / 188
Jack Spratt and Mary Mary return in their second Nursery Crime adventure.--From publisher description.
  1. 90
    The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde (TomWaitsTables)
    TomWaitsTables: See how this book was constructed, with the help of Thursday Next!
  2. 20
    Fables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham (TomWaitsTables)
  3. 00
    Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce (bertilak)
  4. 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)
  5. 00
    There Was an Old Woman by Jessy Randall (Othemts)
  6. 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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» See also 188 mentions

English (108)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
A bit of a different kind of book to my recent reading list. Silly, but enjoyable. I'd read this as it had been on my work book club list last year. I've just realised (after finishing it) that it's the second in this collection of nursery crimes books, so I may need to go back and read the first one. ( )
  Marshmalison | Dec 30, 2020 |
Very cute and clever; fans of kiddie lit may enjoy this, though there is a lot of violent mayhem. However, for mystery fans, the end solution was somewhat unsatisfactory. ( )
  stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
Jack Spratt and Mary Mary (quite contrary) are back in the second book in the Nursery Crimes series, investigating the disappearance of Goldilocks in the midst of the escape of the killer Gingerbreadman from a mental institution. What I liked best was Mary's date with her coworker Ashley (an alien), and the car Jack bought from Dorian Gray that manages to repair itself...but also has a backwards-running odometer. Not as punny as The Big Over Easy, but still an intricately plotted mystery. ( )
  riofriotex | Jun 20, 2020 |
I have always liked the theory of a Jasper Fforde book more than the execution. Fforde has some clever ideas, but he often throws too many of them together, till it stops making sense. The plot bogs down. It's not that funny…

But this was a pleasant exception. For me, at least, "The Fourth Bear" nailed it. Still a lot of funny ideas, but they all make sense. A simple but effective plot. The characters are fleshed out and interesting. Excellent villains, including the Gingerbreadman assassin. And again, super original and funny.

> Vinnie kicked the bike into life, revved the engine, clonked it into first and tore off up the road with a screech of tire. "You know what this means?" said Jack as Vinnie Craps vanished from view around a bend in the road. "That the singular 'screech of tire' looks and sounds wrong even if it's quite correct?" "No.

> "Yes, but I'm not a Jack Spratt, I'm the Jack Spratt, as in 'who could eat no fat.'" She looked at him with a furrowed brow, unsure of what to say. "'Whose wife could eat no lean'?" … "Yes," said Jack softly, laying a hand on her arm, "I'm actually a character from a nursery rhyme. I'm a PDR, sweetheart, and have been from the moment I was born." … "Why does it always have to be about you? Can't I be a PDR in my own right?" It was a good point. "It's not likely. In the nursery world, surnames nearly always make good rhymes. Horner/corner, Spratt/fat, Hubbard/cupboard. Your maiden name of 'Usher' doesn't rhyme with much except 'gusher' and… 'flusher.'" … "Nothing's changed, Madeleine," said Jack soothingly. "I'm still the same Jack Spratt!" "You might have told me you weren't real!" she blurted out. "I am real," he implored. "In a collective-consciousness, postmodern, zeitgeisty sort of way."

> Jack patted him on the arm. "This reminds me of the time when you heard her say she loved Keats—only to find out she wanted to have two—a boy and a girl."

> "On reflection it might be a good idea to find out that she was murdered," said Briggs matter-of-factly, "and for you to then foul it all up. I've got a PR disaster over the lack of progress on the Gingerbreadman case, and I was hoping a bit of well-publicized incompetence by the NCD might draw the flak, so to speak." "I'll see what we can arrange," said Mary agreeably, trying to act how she thought Jack might.

> "This is the plan," announced Jack. "We find out the story Goldilocks was working on. If it was big enough to have her killed, then it's as big as she boasted. Four unexplained fireballs with world-class cucumber growers at the center of three of them."

> Do you have any more wild accusations, or do I have to complain about your conduct to the Chief Constable?" "That's all the wild accusations we have for now," said Jack loftily, attempting to pull some remnant of dignity from the wreckage.

> "Cripps, Katzenberg, Prong and Fuchsia just thought they were growing heavy cucumbers, but McGuffin, flitting around with his Men in Green in the background, was changing, crossbreeding, bioengineering and reseeding until he had created a devastatingly destructive power that could be created in a grow bag with nothing more complex than a dibbler and a watering can." "You mean…?" "Right," growled Jack. "Cuclear energy." They all fell silent, pondering on the geopolitical ramifications of such a discovery. "Hold on a sec," added Jack in a worried tone. "Fuchsia's champion was almost at fifty kilos, and he had six others nearly as large that were stolen this morning—where the hell are they now?" "There were seven thermocuclear devices?" queried Parks, who had latched on to Jack's outlandish explanation without too much difficulty, as should you.

> A tube from a bottle was leading into the giant vegetable, with a time switch metering the weight-gaining contents. The digital scale read 49.997 kilos, and already the cucumber's smooth skin was turning from green to a dark orange and giving out large quantities of heat—the paint on the van's sides was starting to blister. They both stared at it blankly for a few seconds. "I don't know the first thing about disarming thermocuclear devices," admitted Jack, the fear rising in his voice. Bomb disposal was usually a case of cutting the blue wire, but there weren't any wires in sight

> "So are you saying that all the nuclear strain of cucumbers have been destroyed?" "No—Fuchsia told me that his 'Alpha-Pickle' was snipped off the main stalk last night. That's the sole remaining cucumber. Whoever possesses that has almost unthinkable riches and power within his grasp." … McGuffin says it's all got horribly out of hand, and although limitless free energy is a positive step, the idea that any nation that possesses an average-size greenhouse and a trowel can have a nuclear capability is a bit of a downer—despite the truly spectacular fireballs, which he says he'll miss." … Nick Demetrios died from multiple crush injuries. The recovered briefcase contained notes relating to the highly improbable idea of using auto-deuterium-extracting cucumbers as fuel for a Cold Ignition Fusion reaction. Such an idea is quite impossible and belongs in the realms of loony pseudoscience. The briefcase also included a pickle, presumably his lunch. It was consigned to the waste-bin

> To the master himself, Jonathan Swift, for the initial inspiration for this novel: He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. ( )
  breic | Mar 28, 2020 |
At the start of the second Nursery Crime adventure, Jack Spratt and the Nursery Crime Division are experiencing an unaccustomed interval of official approval and public favor, after the successful resolution of the Humpty Dumpty murder.

Naturally, this can't last, and as a direct result of doing his job, Jack has been placed on medical leave. (He successfully captured the Big Bad Wolf—unfortunately after both Grandma and Little Red Riding Hood had been swallowed. He had to go in after them and rescue them, and they're now apparently catatonic.) Jack can't return to duty until he has a session with a psychiatrist and she pronounces him fit for duty. This has happened at an especially inconvenient time, because the Gingerbreadman, the vicious serial killer whose capture was the first big success of Jack's career, has escaped. Meanwhile, mysterious explosions are killing competitive cucumber growers, an old irritant, Josh Hatchett of The Toad, is asking for a favor—his sister is missing. His sister whose nickname is Goldilocks is missing—last seen fleeing the cabin of the Bruin family. Jack delves into the world of bear porridge smuggling, competitive cucumber growing, the new theme park, SommeWorld, being built by QuangTech to discourage romantic images of war, and a painful encounter with his own true nature (as a PDR—Person of Dubious Reality.) And of course, Caliban has taken up residence in his house, and Punch and Judy have moved in next door.

This is fast-paced, entertaining silliness—great fun, and excellent light reading for a hot summer weekend.

Recommended. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 108 (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 (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fforde, Jasperprimary 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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Because the Forest will always be there...and anybody who is Friendly with Bears can find it. --A.A. Milne
For my mother
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Last known regional post-code allocation: Obscurity, Berkshire, Pop.: 35.

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

"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."
"Yes. Don't like the food, beds uncomfortable, waiting lists too long—usual crap. Other than that they're fine."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Jack Spratt and Mary Mary return in their second Nursery Crime adventure.--From publisher description.

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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?
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