Review: The Big Over Easy

Title: The Big Over Easy
Author: Jasper Fforde
Page Count: 383 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Fiction, for lack of a better description

50 words or less: Mary Mary is assigned to work with Jack Spratt solving crimes for the Nursery Crimes Division. She thinks it’s a crap job; he’s made it his life’s work. When the death of vagrant Humpty Dumpty falls (ha!) into their laps, neither is prepared for the wild ride that’s about to unfold.

The 2009 Fall into Reading Challenge is now in full swing, and I’m ready to cross the first book off my list! The Big Over Easy was the perfect way to get started with this challenge. It was an enjoyable read that didn’t require too much time or effort.

One key thing to know about Jasper Fforde’s books is that they’re all set in a kind of parallel reality where fictional book characters of all shapes, sizes, and characteristics are actually real people. The setting first emerged in the Thursday Next series of books (the first one is The Eyre Affair) and the device is here again in the Nursery Crimes series. This means that half the fun of the book doesn’t come from what happens to Jack Spratt and Mary Mary and all the rest of the characters, but in trying to catch the sly literary references that are liberally sprinkled throughout the entire book.

The Big Over Easy is a mystery for people who like mystery novels, but are not so attached to them that they can’t laugh at the absurdity that finds its way into the genre all too frequently. I mean, I grew up reading Agatha Christie novels, and even when I was a kid I’d marvel at how Hercule Poirot would find a piece of dog snot on the carpet or whatever and then MAGICALLY, the entire case would unravel and he would proceed to explain the whole thing to us, the audience, as we sat there in dumbfounded silence. Then again, spending some time in a world where a mystery is just a question waiting for an answer and everything has a nice, neat solution if we only look hard enough is one of the biggest appeals of detective novels, for me anyway.

There were times, I’ll admit, when The Big Over Easy was a tad too clever for its own good and sort of tripped over its own feet, so to speak, but for the most part it was funny, clever, and made me want to revisit Mr. Fforde’s other novels as soon as possible. There’s one side plot wherein Jack Spratt has to sell a painting of cow for his mother and ends up getting beans for it that really made me smile, and the way the ending ties up all the loose ends from the rest of the book was a thing of beauty, indeed.

Overall Grade: B+

Up next for me is Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and then Green by Jay Lake. I’m also good to go for the next installment of Blog With Bite and getting ready for a contest that will truly be a lot of fun. It’s hard to believe September is already pretty much a thing of the past, but it is! There’s lots of fun stuff ahead though, I’m excited already.

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