Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde is mad. Stark staring, barking, insane in the membrane, crazy in the coconut, sherbet in the synapses, cracks in the cortex, crosstalk in the circuitry, mad. It's the only explanation I can find for the mind that conceived the world where a murdered egg named Humperdinck (Humpty) van Dumpty emerges as a slightly shady, womanizing day trader; Jack Sprat is a detective inspector in the Nursery Crimes division of Reading Police - and yes his first wife did die from complications of her extremely high cholesterol; his prosecution of three little pigs for the murder of Mr Wolff was not successful; and his success will be measured in column inches in Amazing Crime Stories or Sleuth Illustrated. (Or rather not measured, because he doesn’t really rate, which is a problem for DS Mary Mary, his ambitious, but quite contrary new assistant.)

In case you are wondering, yes the book is a long, lame joke about the crossover of nursery rhyme characters into real life. And just like his earlier novels about literary detective Thursday Next, the weird fantasy world is conceived with elegance and grace. The literary and cultural jokes and puns on every page – from Marlowe to Monty Python – make it hilarious. The tight, mystery driven storyline pulls you through the story just like Raymond Chandler did in the old days. It’s a good book, with a great twist at the end, made richer by the bizarre and cluttered landscape of Fforde’s mind.

Who: Jasper Fforde
What: The Big Over Easy
When: August 2005
Where: London, Sardinia
Why: Read it for book club, would read it again for fun

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