Jack Spratt could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean,
And so betwixt them both,
They licked the platter clean.
After a brief interruption by the latest Harry Potter, I returned to the wonderfully surreal world of Jasper Fforde.
Jack Spratt – an old school copper – has ambitions to get into the Most Worshipful Guild of Detectives, but his methods and undistinguished career with the NCD are against him. Not to mention; his failure to secure a conviction against the Three Little Pigs for the murder of the famed lupine, The Big Bad Wolf.
The fact that he is happily married, drives an Austin Allegro, and is perfectly sane; with no interesting character quirks (despite a predilection for giants to drop dead in his presence) and has managed to rub up ex-colleague and Guild #2 Friedland Chymes the wrong way, are all building the case against him.
Against this background; Detective Inspector Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crimes Division and his new assistant Mary Mary are called in to investigate the death of, Minor baronet, Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III, who has been found dead – and in pieces – at the bottom of his favourite wall in one of the less salubrious area of Reading.
From here the story drags you further into the absurd world Fforde creates, with apparent ease and whatever he throws at you, is accepted as perfectly normal; a narcoleptic neighbour of Humpty’s called Van-Winkle, ugly sisters suing for defamation; and serial womaniser (and crime lord) Georgia Porgia are but a few highlights.
This is easily as enjoyable as his “Thursday Next” books (and if you have read them you will notice some entertaining nods to his more famous series) and I challenge you to read it without reaching into the depths of your childhood memories, to try and remember long forgotten Nursery Rhymes and Fairytales!
Buy The Big Over Easy here.