Sunday, April 05, 2015

Meet Jack Spratt and Mary Mary

Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime #1) Jasper Fforde. 2005. 383 pages. [Source: Library]

I really found myself liking the opening chapters of Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy, the first in a series. Inspector Jack Spratt heads the Nursery Crime Division in Reading. He's got a new partner, Sergeant Mary Mary. This case, their first case to work together, is a murder case. Humpty Dumpty has been murdered. Can these two find his killer before he (or she) kills again?! The premise has potential without a doubt. Not this particular case, but, any case. From the start, I found myself liking Jack Spratt and liking Mary Mary. (Though not necessarily liking their scenes together.) I also really liked Jack's mother whom we get to spend just a little time with here and there.
Here's a description of Jack visiting his mother:
She opened the door within two seconds of his pressing the doorbell, letting out a stream of cats that ran around with such rapidity and randomness of motion that they assumed a liquid state of furry purringness. The exact quantity could have been as low as three or as high as one hundred eight; no one could ever tell, as they were all so dangerously hyperactive. (30)
It's a mystery packed with puns and silly twists. While Spratt takes his job seriously, it can be hard for readers to always do the same. The book requires readers to just give into the silliness and the surreal-ness of it all. It's an odd book.

Unfortunately for me, the charm wore off. While I enjoyed the first third of the book, by the end, I was tired of it all. I think if I had read it all in one sitting, if I'd have managed my reading better, it could have worked. But the truth is, I found myself not caring about the characters and not caring about what happened next.

The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime #2) Jasper Fforde. 2006.  382 pages. [Source: Library]

While I didn't enjoy The Big Over Easy, I definitely enjoyed the second in the Nursery Crimes series, The Fourth Bear. (Though I do wish it had a different title!) The book continues the adventures--or misadventures--of Inspector Jack Spratt, Sergeant Mary Mary, and the alien, Ashley. All three, of course, work for the Nursery Crime Division of Reading. Conditionally at least, when they're not on probation or leave of absence. Jack Spratt is initially disappointed that his boss, Briggs, is not assigning him the BIG, BIG CASE that falls within his jurisdiction: The Gingerbread man has escaped, and he's a serial killer. Though it's obvious that the Gingerbread man is not a "real" person, the NCD does not get the case. Instead, Mary Mary and Jack Spratt are looking into a missing person's case. You can probably guess by the title that it might just have a little something to do with Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Though you should expect a few twists, obviously! Jack Spratt and Mary Mary are kept plenty busy with this case, and it's anything but simple or ordinary! It was fun in places. The writing, obviously, tried to pack in as many puns and jokes as possible. But some of them worked well, in my opinion. For example, the controversy over 'the right to arm bears' movement.

While most of the book does focus on the mystery, readers still get a hint of the personal lives of the main characters. (Jack and his wife, their new neighbors Punch and Judy, their daughter's wedding plans, Mary Mary's date with Ashley, meeting Ashley's family, etc.)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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