Nursery Crime Division head, Jack Spratt, has a Gingerbreadman on the loose. And a missing reporter named Goldilocks. And Punch and Judy just moved in next door, raising the noise level in the neighbourhood considerably.
Did I mention that one of his constables is an
alien named Ashley? Or that he bought a car from Dorian Grey that
self-repairs (although that painting in the trunk is getting pretty
beat-up)? Or that porridge-smuggling among bears is on the rise? Or that
cucumbers might just be the deadliest substance on earth?
Ah, Jasper Fforde. Your books are insane, but they're just the kind of insane I like. And The Fourth Bear
works quite well as a straightforward mystery, despite all the nursery
rhyme and literary trappings. Cases end up being interlocked in ways
that are strange, but internally logical.
There are a few too
many nods of the characters to the author, as they know they're in a
book, but I suppose that if anyone was going to realize they were part
of a narrative tale, it would be those who police literary creations.
(The Pippa joke and the resulting lines did tickle my funnybone.)
subplot with Jack's wife finding out he was a nursery rhyme character
himself was disposed of rather too quickly, and with a pat, unsatisfying
leap to a conclusion.
Fforde always creates these worlds that
are several steps east of normal, but he thinks them through, and
creates a world and stays within it. I find them amusing, and
challenging, and enjoyable. The Fourth Bear is nowhere near as good as Shades of Grey,
which I absolutely adored, but it is a solid mystery, an amusing tale,
and a loving romp through worlds I haven't played in since I was a