Summary and book reviews of The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

The Big Over Easy

A Nursery Crime

by Jasper Fforde

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2005, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2006, 400 pages

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Book Summary

It's Easter in Reading—a bad time for eggs. Ovoid D-class nursery celebrity, Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III, is found shattered to death. Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary are on the case and before long find themselves grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, beanstalks, titans seeking asylum, and the cut and thrust world of international chiropody.

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 . . .

1. Mary Mary

If Queen Anne hadn't suffered so badly from Gout and Dropsy, Reading might never have developed at all. In 1702 the unhealthy Queen Anne, looking for a place to ease her Royal infirmities, chanced upon Bath; and where Royalty goes, so too does society. In consequence, Reading, up until that time a small town on a smaller tributary of the Thames, became a busy staging post on the Bath road, later to become the A4, and ultimately the M4. The town was enriched by the wool trade and later played host to several large firms that were to become household names. By the time Huntley & Palmers biscuits began here in 1822, Simonds brewery was already well established; and when Suttons Seeds began in 1835 and Spongg's footcare in 1853, the town's prosperity was assured.
—Excerpt from A History of Reading

It was the week following Easter in Reading, and no one could remember the last sunny day. Gray clouds swept across the sky, borne ...

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About the Book

Humpty Dumpty's taken the big fall—dead off a ledge, with no eyewitnesses. Was it suicide? Was it murder? In Reading, there's only one police unit that handles this type of tale—the Nursery Crime Division. It's up to Detective Inspector Jack Spratt, along with his new partner, Sergeant Mary Mary, and their investigative team, to crack the egg case.

In The Big Over Easy, Jasper Fforde has created a new and bizarre universe where fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and real life collide. Fresh from the success of his bestselling Thursday Next series, Fforde has now sealed his reputation as one of the brightest literary lights around. Written with a sharp eye and a bounding imagination, The Big Over ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

If you've enjoyed the Thursday Next series and appreciate a little bit of 'silliness', then this might be for you, but if literary slapstick isn't your cup of tea, you should probably steer clear!   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

New England Science Fiction Association

....rather than the apparent pre-adolescent desire to get a reaction that seemed to inspire some names in the Tuesday Next books, such as Jack Schitt. The invention here is more firmly in the zany fun category, with few lapses into "silly enough to be annoying." (While Tuesday Next and her family, friends, and enemies are neither seen nor heard from, this is apparently set in the same world, and some of the minor characters, most notably Lola Vavoom, do make appearances.) Good, light summer fun reading.

Kirkus Reviews

Fforde lays on his erudition with a trowel, slathering literary references all over his rote detective story. Of course, it being rote is part of the point, as Fforde's trying to deconstruct the whole genre. While the effect is at first hilarious and ingenious, eventually the charm wears off. Shallow and snarky, though the concept is clever.

Publishers Weekly

Fforde's whimsical fifth novel, his first not to feature literary detective Thursday Next, is consistently witty, but its conceit--putting a criminal spin on nursery rhymes--wears a bit thin....The result is unusually clever but not compelling in the least.

The Guardian (UK) - Peter Guttridge

I love it. The Big Over Easy is great not just because it's very funny (albeit with some excruciating puns) but also because it works properly as a whodunit....Comic genius.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

thoroughly enjoyable
The Big Over Easy is the first in the Nursery Crime series by Jasper Fforde and, while it was not published until 2005, it was actually written in 1994, well before his highly successful Thursday Next series. It is a reworking of his first written ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Fforde's first book, The Eyre Affair, was published in 2001, and was followed by Lost In A Good Book (2002), The Well of Lost Plots (2003) and Something Rotten (2004). All revolve around, female detective, Thursday Next who lives in a parallel world to our own where books are paramount, the Crimean War is still ongoing and dodos are the pets of choice.

Fforde says that he felt the need to take a break and, to that end, resurrected the concept for a novel that he'd first written ...

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