Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Big Over Easy: Review in a Haiku

The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime
by Jasper Fforde
2005 Viking 400 pages

"Jack Spratt and Mary
solve painfully contrived crime.
Jasper let me down."

To flesh that out just a little: As a huge fan of Fforde's Thursday Next Literary Detective Series, I felt compelled to read Fforde's most recently published novel, The Big Over Easy. (Although I am rather disappointed that he seems to be taking a hiatus from continuing the adventures of Next.) I say most recently published, because it's actually the first book he ever wrote. Unfortunately, you can tell.

The puns and randomness and literary allusions that I've come to appreciate from Jasper are all there, but whereas the main storyline of Thursday Next novels seems to float along on these clever devices, The Big Over Easy is bogged down by them. In the end, the mystery of who killed Humpty Dumpty is not all it's cracked up to be. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) It's one of those novels where you're expecting--hoping, even--that the ending will inspire that age-old forehead slap accompanied by an exclamation of, "How did I not see that coming?!" Instead, when everything was "resolved" at the end I was left scratching my head and muttering, "Where in the world did that come from...?"

I don't know, maybe I've watched too many episodes of CSI to possess the patience necessary to watch a nursery crime investigation unfold over 400 pages and a few too many children's story asides. If you want to read some riveting and quirky literary investigating, stick with Jasper Fforde, but start with The Eyre Affair, the first in the Thursday Next series. Pick up this tale of the shady egg's demise only if you find yourself with a LOT of spare time.

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