Big Over Easy

Big Over Easy

Nursery Crime #1

by Jasper Fforde
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Trade Paperback, 383 pages
Price: $18.00


With those three words Detective Inspector Jack Spratt of the Reading Nursery Crime Division is whisked straight into the most scrambled case of his career. The facts are as follows: last night Humpty Dumpty, noted philanthropist, convict, alchoholic, womanizer, and egg was reclining on his wall in a seedy corner of Grimm's road. The next morning he lay shattered on the ground. Was it a suicide, or are all signs pointing to murder? As Jack Spratt begins to piece together the clues he finds himself peeling back the layers of a bigger conspiracy than even he could have imagined.

And it's not like he has all the king's men on his side either; he barely has the support of his own superintendent. After the failed prosecution of the Three Little Pigs for the murder of Mr. "Big Bad" Wolff, the NCD is in danger of being sliced out of the budget. Humpty's fatal fall might be the big break the Division needs. Unfortunately, Jack's former partner and current antagonist, celebrity detective Friedland Chymes, is badly in need of a sensational case for Amazing Crime Stories' summer special. Chymes is willing to go to nefarious lengths to ensure he gets it, including swaying Jack's new partner, Sergeant Mary Mary. Things are looking far from sunnyside up for the NCD.

With two foot-care empires battling it out overhead, the Most Worshipful Guild of Detectives breathing down his neck, and the Jellyman coming to town, Jack Spratt finds himself in increasingly hot water. All he knows for sure is that something is rotten in the city of Reading, and whatever it is involves some seriously foul play.

In the whirlwind style of the Thursday Next books comes the Nursery Crime series. It's a world just like ours, but one where the lines between reality and fiction are so blurred that characters like Sherlock Holmes, Humpty Dumpty, and Prometheus can coexist with ordinary people—and no one is the wiser.

The likeable Jack Spratt is our typical Ffordeian hero—unappreciated, underfunded, and undeservedly disliked, but morally rigid and dedicated to his job. Big Over Easy dips into the supposed "gritty underbelly" of the nursery rhyme world, blending hardboiled detective fiction with a sort of literary free-for-all, and the result is about as crazy (and hilarious) as you would expect.

Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
FLAWS: Fighting/violence, Language
Summary: Humpty Dumpty's untimely tumble may be the big break DI Jack Spratt needs to save the Nursery Crime division.

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