Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde

It's Easter in Reading--a bad time for eggs--and no one can remember the last sunny day. Ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III, minor baronet, ex-convict, and former millionaire philanthropist, is found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. All the evidence points to his ex-wife, who has conveniently shot herself.
But Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary remain unconvinced, a sentiment not shared with their superiors at the Reading Police Department, who are still smarting over their failure to convict the Three Pigs of murdering Mr. Wolff. Before long Jack and Mary find themselves grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, bullion smuggling, problems with beanstalks, titans seeking asylum, and the cut and thrust world of international chiropody.
And on top of all that, the JellyMan is coming to town . . .

blurb from
After thoroughly enjoying Fforde's Thursday Next book, and having been told that the events of The Big Over Easy take place in some of the locations used in The Well of Lost Plots I decided to make this my next Fforde book. I got the audio from the library, started listening and continued to alternate between the audio and the book itself.

This is indeed the book being proposed at the end of The Well of Lost Plots, but I never felt it was made clear if I, as the reader, was supposed to be reading it in my "real" universe, Thursday's universe or the universe established in the book itself. This left me a bit confused to begin with, and unfortunately that never really cleared up.

I didn't dislike this book, but I didn't like it nearly as much as the Thursday Next books. There's a certain witty sense to the Thursday books, but this was just too over the top for me. Fforde has tried to toss in too much - as many nursery rhymes and fairy tales as he can think of, whether they are needed or not. I also felt that this determined cleverness was to the detriment of the characterisation, meaning I never really cared about any of the characters. Jack was just "nice" without having any real depth, while Mary was really somewhat unpleasant. And why he needed to throw aliens into the mix as well, I really have no idea.

I was also frustrated with the way Fforde set up the solution of the mystery. Sure, the clues were all there, but every time it was announced that the murder had been solved, suddenly there was a new situation, new clues and it hadn't been after all. Each progressive solution got sillier and more complicated and by the end I found I didn't really care.

All the same, I kept reading. I did want to know how it ended and I did enjoy the read. Perhaps the book didn't stand a chance because I read it in the midst of the Thursday books, which I just love. But basically, there was just too much going on here and it ended up very messy.

An okay book, but I'm going back to Thursday now.

The Big Over Easy
Nursery Crime, Book 1
Jasper Fforde


Marg said...

I was really disappointed with this book, but the second book in this series was much, much, much better! Not as good as a TN book...but still good!

Kerry said...

Thanks Marg. Maybe I'll try the next one after all. I'm all out of Fforde to read except for that one now anyway.