The Big Over Easy
By Jasper Fforde
Challenge: Dusty book
Description: 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.
I love Jasper Fforde and his Thursday Next series. I picked this one up a while back when I went looking for The Well of Lost Plots, but my local bookstore kept on insisting not to have it in stock. So I turned to this first installment of his “A Nursery Crime” series.
I loved mysteries when I was a child and teenager and read many a Nancy Drew and The Cat Who….. But got away from them in the last 2 decades.
Mr. Fforde is a master at witty writing and using real literature to create a whole new world full of puns and winks for the reader. You really have to be well read to even begin to catch half the references in his Thursday Next series. In this new series he leaves classic lit behind for nursery rhymes, fairy tales and even mythology.
To be honest, the first chapter or two were a little hard to get through, and I had started this book before, but put it aside, because it did not grab me enough to keep life from distracting me (thus why this fell into the dusty book challenge (which for those who don’t know, this is a book that has been gathering dust on your shelves prior to 2013.)
But I was home for the holidays and wanted something light-hearted to read, so I picked it up again, and I’m glad I did. While I do feel the book was light on character development (The first character you meet is Mary Mary and she definitely could have use more development), the point of the book is a mystery, and in Scooby Doo style it races to the finishing line. I am sure there is a lot of winks an nods to traditional mystery/private detective genre, but I’m not too versed in the Sam Spade, “hard boiled” (pun not intended, but side benefit) theme, to catch all the references.
I think the highlight of the book for me, though, was the nod to nursery rhymes, fairy tales and mythology. I love reading (and watching) books and shows that take literature and twists or reinvents it. I love Once Upon a Time, and Wicked, and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I like being in on the joke. So I was please with this book, though I would not rate it above The Eyre Affair.
Next up: The Great Gastby