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...
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The word of mouth on Jasper Fforde has long been enthusiastic, among those in the know. But now that his readership has expanded immeasurably, the expectations for such books as The Big Over Easy are considerable. And whether or not those expectations will be met by this new book depends on the readiness of readers to strike out in new directions--just as the author has done. Fforde’s speciality has long been the outrageous teasing of narrative forms, and there's a measure of that here, although more disciplined than in earlier books.
Rather in the fashion in which Stephen Sondheim exploded the world of fairytale in Into the Woods, Fforde here brings all the apparatus of the tough crime thriller to bear on the nursery rhyme. Minor baronet Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III has been found dead--and in pieces--beneath a wall in a less salubrious area of town. The perpetrator would appear to be his ex-wife, but she has shot herself. Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his colleague Mary Mary are assigned to the case, and soon find themselves knee-deep in money-laundering, bullion smuggling and major problems with beanstalks.
This isn't quite the Fforde mixture as before, although he has previously favoured a crime motor for his plots. The skill in this outrageously entertaining (and rigorously plotted) concoction lies in a double conjuring trick: we are always amazed to find ourselves reading so assiduously about ludicrous figures (who become quite as interesting heroes as, say, Philip Marlowe) when common sense dictates only children should find such conceits entertaining. Not so! No child could appreciate the dazzling wordplay and witty imagination on offer here, and most readers will be more than happy to encounter detective Inspector Jack Spratt (and his contrary sidekick kick Mary Mary) again and again. --Barry ForshawReview:
I love it. THE BIG OVER EASY is great not just because it's very funny...but also because it works properly as a whodunit...Comic genius. ( Observer)
A riot of puns, in-jokes and literary allusions that Fforde carries off with aplomb ( Daily Mail)
'More twists and turns than Christie ... embellished with the rich details of a Dickens or Pratchett. A real treat.' ( Independent )
Jasper Fforde here mixes nursery rhymes with golden age detective fiction to produce something very accomplished indeed. ( Guardian)
'This is the of best-selling Fforde's hilarious, absurd and utterly compelling new series of nursery crimes for adults.' ( Daily Mirror)
'Fforde offers a cascade of puns, plays on words, surrealism, satire and verbal virtuosity...Astonishing, he is funny for 400 pages' ( The Times)
'Once you open this book, you'll find it very hard to put down. I've never read anything like this. And I couldn't get enough' ( Daily Ireland)
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Book Description Penguin Audio, 2005. Audio CD. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 143057707