“It was the week following Easter in Reading and no one could remember the last sunny day.”
‘It looks like he died from injuries sustained during a fall…’ Bestselling author Jasper Fforde begins an effervescent new series. It’s Easter in Reading – a bad time for eggs – and no one can remember the last sunny day. Humpty Dumpty, well-known nursery favourite, large egg, ex-convict and former millionaire philanthropist is found shattered beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Following the pathologist’s careful reconstruction of Humpty’s shell, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergeant Mary Mary are soon grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, the illegal Bearnaise sauce market, corporate politics and the cut and thrust world of international Chiropody. As Jack and Mary stumble around the streets of Reading in Jack’s Lime Green Austin Allegro, the clues pile up, but Jack has his own problems to deal with. And on top of everything else, the JellyMan is coming to town…
My advice for anyone wondering whether or not to read this book is to answer the following question:
- Have you read Jasper Fforde before?
No – Start with Fforde’s Thursday Next series. If you like his writing in those, then you’ll like this one too. But read the entire series, because it will come in handy.
Yes – If you’ve read Thursday Next, then proceed happily into the Nursery Crime series. It’s different, but fundamentally written in the same style, with the same kind of humor. It’s just more crime rather than literature.
It’s a safe bet to assume that you encounteres nursery rhymes at some point in your childhood, and that there’s a part of you just aching to get in touch with that era again, right?
This is your way in. Fforde is clever and he’s good at finding the balance between interesting, gripping, fun and silly. I wouldn’t imagine that my ideal reading experience wuld be a crime novel based around characters in nursery rhymes…I’d think, nah the author is cluthicing at straws there…it’s a bit too far fetched and I couldn’t invest in something that that…
But Fforde is the only author who can pull of a narrative that mixes crime with childhood favourites. And for me, the evidence of this is in the fact that I buddy read this with a 50+ year old family friend who only ever reads crime fiction. And I mean, serious crime fiction like books by Agatha Christie, Reginald Hill, John Harvey, Colin Dexter, Ellis Peters…etc.
And you know what? He loved it. Fforde’s books are like no other and they have appeal. The premise to this one is simple…Humpty Dumpty has (surprise, surprise) fallen from a wall and died from his injuries. But his death is suspicious and it looks like he was murdered. Enter Jack Spratt, detective from the Nursery Crime division.
It’s a fun idea, and Fforde takes it all the way. The plot is as detailed and planned as any good crime novel, and you’ll find yourself wanting to know who did it right up until the moment you find out.
Link to the book on Goodreads: The Big Over Easy