2005; 383 pages. Book 1 of the "Nursery Crime" Series. Genre : Comic Fiction, Ffordian Slip. Overall Rating : B.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, and isn't going to be put back together again. But was it an accident, suicide, or murder most fowl?
Detective Jack Spratt and his partner, Mary Mary (who is a bit contrary) investigate Hump's death, while at the same time fending off a hostile takeover by a vainglorious colleague and trying to keep the Nursery Crime Division from being a victim of budget cuts.
What's To Like...
There's the usual amount of Fforde's zaniness, puns, complexity, wit, clever character names, and plot twists. TBOE is a bit more plot-driven than the Thursday Next series (face it, we care more about what happens to the plot of Jane Eyre than we do about what happens to Thursday's husband). The ending of TBOE is great.
As expected, a whole slew of nursery rhymes are touched upon. But there are still some literary references (most notably to Shakespeare's Richard III), and also a nod or two to Grrek mythology (the titan Prometheus and Jack's daughter Pandora become enamored with each other).
The Big Over Easy is actually a re-write of one of Fforde's earlier, unpublished stories. It's original title was Who Killed Humpty Dumpty? TBOE and The Well of Lost Plots are interconnected. A half-dozen characters appear in both books, and IIRC, the Nursery Crime world is invented by Thursday in TWoLP. Fforde even back-writes some references to Thursday Next into TBOE. I give this book a "B" only because I doubt it will supersede the Thursday Next series as your favorite work(s) by Fforde. If anyone else had written this, I'd probably be giving it an "A".
A Quick Trivia Quiz (answers in the comments section)...
01.) How many words are there in Chapter 13 of The Big Over Easy?
02.) How many rejections did The Eyre Affair receive before someone finally picked it up?
03.) Does that web link for "extras" found in all Jasper Fforde books really work?