Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Fourth Bear

by Jasper Fforde, 2004

This was my first Fforde book. I've heard lots of good things about some of his other works, and the other day I was wandering around the public library looking for something fun to read, and I saw this. It was in the mystery section, but by the cover I could tell it certainly wasn't taking itself seriously. (Side note: the people who do Fforde's art live in Portland, Oregon!)

I think I'm going to read a lot more of this guy, he's hilarious. This particular novel was one of his "Jack Spratt Investigates" mystery novels. Jack Spratt works in the Nursery Crime Division of the Berkshire police department. He's got a secret history as a Person of Dubious Reality since he's indeed *that* Jack Spratt, who could eat no fat. His first wife could eat no lean, and she died from it. Anyway, he gets into all kinds of trouble with various characters from nursery rhymes, and solves cases. This one involved Goldilocks who got into trouble when she was trying to meet her secret lover but stumbled upon a cabin in the woods occupied by three bears. Also, there is a Ginja warrior causing havok - a ten foot tall gingerbread man created as the ultimate fighting machine. There are even slight hints along the way that the characters seem to be aware that they are in a book, and one time even discuss the author and his overextension to build up a bad joke.

This would be enjoyed by those who like the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, especially the ones set in the police department. Also a good hint of Douglas Adams' mischievousness.