Saturday, April 08, 2006

Looking for a good book?

Recently I was strolling through the library looking for, what else, some books (imagine that). At my library, they showcase newly-arrived books. One was The Big Over Easy. The title immediately caught my attention. I picked it up thinking that it was a new book about New Orleans, maybe even about the city in the aftermath of Katrina. I was pleasantly wrong.

The full title was The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime by Jasper Fforde.

It’s Easter in Reading—a bad time for eggs—and no one can remember the last sunny day. Ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III, minor baronet, ex-convict, and former millionaire philanthropist, is found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. All the evidence points to his ex-wife, who has conveniently shot herself.

But Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary remain unconvinced, a sentiment not shared with their superiors at the Reading Police Department, who are still smarting over their failure to convict the Three Pigs of murdering Mr. Wolff. Before long Jack and Mary find themselves grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, bullion smuggling, problems with beanstalks, titans seeking asylum, and the cut and thrust world of international chiropody.

And on top of all that, the JellyMan is coming to town . . .

After I read the inside flap, I was intrigued. And a couple of chapters later, I was hooked. After finishing The Big Over Easy, I read the only other Fforde novel my library had at the time, The Well of Lost Plots (the third in the Thursday Next series). Last night I finished his first book, The Eyre Affair.

Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping charactersfrom works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Bronte's novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

Needless to say, I am an addicted fan. I am going to buy all of his books so that I can read them again and again. If you are an avid reader, you, too, will love these books. They are so much fun to read.