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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
3,9301162,497 (3.99)1 / 190
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. 02: 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 190 mentions

English (113)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (116)
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
Meant to be funny, it never really made me laugh. Probably better appreciated by readers more familiar with British nursery rhymes and stories.
Jack Spratt (from some nursery rhyme or other) still heads up the Reading Nursery Crime Division, and has to solve yet another nursery related crime while being suspended. This time the reference material includes goldilocks, dorian gray, the gingerbreadman, Judy and punch, all sorts of conspiracy theories as well as a number of other nursery rhymes not in my frame of reference. ( )
  amberwitch | Jun 23, 2022 |
What can ever be said about a Jasper Fforde book that would make sense to anyone that hasn't read one? This is the second in what is, so far, a two book series about what crime would look like if Nursery Characters lived in the real world. Jack Spratt, the head of the Nursery Crimes Division, investigates several seemingly unrelated crimes: Porridge smuggling, a missing Goldilocks, the escape of the Gingerbread man, and his new car that never ages, with a painting in the boot that does. All while fighting suspension based on a pending psych evaluation after being swallowed by the Big Bad Wolf.

It's not all Mother Goose either, side characters include Spratt's daughter Pandora and her soon to be husband, Prometheus and at least one character from Shakespeare. Oh, and an alien. Because, why not?

In spite of sounding (and mostly being) silly, it's not an easy/breezy book to read. There are layers in the writing and the jokes and the references that are easy to miss. There's a subtle - very subtle - disregard for the fourth wall, where the characters not only recognise they're in a book (a la Thursday Next), but will make subtle reference to the author and the reader. So not only is it a book where the overload of satire is best enjoyed in small doses, but one that if carefully read will give more humorous dividends than a quick read would.

Generally it's just a hell of a lot of fun to read. The puns get punnier towards the end and there was at least one *snort*chuckle in the last 30%. It might have been it was late and I was tired, but

cuculear power

made me laugh.

I read this for the Modern Noir square in Halloween Bingo. It's a gimme for the Grimm Tale square, but I've already read that terrible retelling of Snow White and it's not going to have been for nothing, and Spratt's attitude and methods are definitely noir-ish. ( )
  murderbydeath | Jan 22, 2022 |
This is the second book Jasper has written about the Nursery Crime Division in the Berkshire Constabulary in Reading England.

In this book, the main character Jack Spratt is the head of the Nursery Crime Division. We learn he is a PDR - person of dubious reality. He mishandles an attempt to catch a villain who is cutting off the thumbs of children who suck their thumbs and gets reprimanded. He is suspended and ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment by Virginia Kreeper, also a PDR. He knows he is insane. It's a necessary part of working for the NCD.

Right after he is suspended, the Gingerbreadman - a psychopath, sadist, genius and killer he caught 20 years ago - escapes. But Jack has been demoted to Missing Persons. He cannot track the Gingerbreadman. Instead he becomes involved in the case of Goldilocks who has disappeared after visiting three bears in the woods. Goldilocks is a staunch supporter of bear rights, including the right of bears to arm (pun on the right to bear arms).

Goldilocks and the Gingerbreadman are connected. Jack and his assistant Mary Mary uncover this truth. Before she disappeared, she was following a story about a series of unexplained explosions over the years, and a story about a group of people growing giant cucumbers. The most recent explosion killed a man who was competing to grow a giant cucumber. A conspiracy theorist assists Jack. Goldilocks turns up in little bits, blown to smithereens after escaping into the woods and landing in a theme park called Sommeworld that tries to recreate the historical battle of Sommes during the first world war. Was she murdered or was it accidental?

This is a brilliant story. It turns out there is a fourth bear who is behind the unexplained exploding cucumbers and the Gingerbreadman and the death of Goldilocks. ( )
  CarolBurrows | Jun 25, 2021 |
Any time spent in one of Jasper Fforde's strange, bookish worlds is always well-spent. As the second book in the Nurse Crime Division series, we get to explore these characters a little more all while enjoying every literary allusion Fforde tosses the reader's way. As always I delighted in the many jokes Fforde includes, some metafictional, some that don't pay off until the end of the book. Full of humour and a good mystery to boot. A delight as always. ( )
  MickyFine | Jun 24, 2021 |
On par with The Big Over Easy, this is insane, fabulous, and wonderful. ( )
  wetdryvac | Mar 2, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 113 (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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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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Jack Spratt and Mary Mary return in their second Nursery Crime adventure.--From publisher description.

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