Has there been a film version?
No, but I highly recommend one.
Who are the important characters?
Detective Inspector Jack Spratt – the head of the Nursery Crime Division, which is highly overlooked
Sergeant Mary Mary – Spratt’s new partner, recently transferred from Basingstoke, she wants to become a well published detective
Detective Friedland Chymes – the darling of the Reading Police department and star of Amazing Crime Stories, he was once Spratt’s partner and is now his rival
Humpty Dumpty – a great big egg with a bit of a shady past who has just been killed
Briggs – the head of the Reading PD
What’s it about?
Mary Mary has just been transferred to the declining Reading Nursery Crime Division, despite her best attempts to push her career upward. She’s now the partner of Jack Spratt – the man who had enough gall to bring the three little pigs to trial for the murder of the big bad wolf. Mary would rather be partner to Friedland Chymes – the most famous detective in all of England. But when the slightly criminal but wholly well-meaning Humpty Dumpty is found shot and shattered at the base of a wall on the bad part of town, Mary finds herself caught up in not only a very interesting murder investigation, but a power play between foot care companies and the two former partners of the Reading PD – Chymes and Spratt. Not to mention there are aliens who only understand binary roaming about. Will Mary and Spratt be able to put all the pieces together before NCD goes under and Friedland steals the show?
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Because Fforde is a master at the allusion – especially when it comes to literary themes, in this case…Nursery Rhymes.
Do you recommend I read this book?
Yes – very highly. Especially if you enjoyed the Thursday Next books. These are a little bit more mature in theme and language.
How did this book make your list?
I love the Thursday Next series.
Has it won any awards?
“Ben gaped. Street-cred overload. Prometheus smiled modestly. He enjoyed a devoted following among the young. He was, after all, the ultimate rebel – it takes a lot of cojones to stand up to Zeus.” – p 126
Once again, I can’t recommend Fforde as an author highly enough. He has a wonderful way with both characters and words – not to mention his gift at working in literary allusion. I had a hard time keeping up with all the nursery rhyme references, and I made my mom read them to me every night and had grandparents that recited them to me constantly! (Along with verses about the wages of sin…) I must warn you, however, these are not spin offs from the Thursday Next series. Spratt and Mary are completely different types of people from Thursday. While supposedly, this is the same universe, Reading is different from anywhere Thursday ever worked. This isn’t to say they aren’t good. They just exhibit another fascinating aspect of Fforde’s writing abilities.
I usually don’t enjoy reading mysteries. I get too impatient to have them solved that I miss clues and am thrown way off course. But this book was a joy to read. There were so many twists and turns that I soon gave up trying to solve the murder on my own and instead just enjoyed the reading experience. And I laughed – oh did I laugh. Nearly every page had me chuckling over some clever line or act. I highly, highly recommend these books.