The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde is an entertaining, inventive read but doesn’t quite measure up to the Thursday Next series.
Reduced down to a simple scale, The Big Over Easy is very good, while most of the Thursday Next series (including The Well of Lost Plots) are great. Fforde is a victim of his own creativity.
The Big Over Easy is a mystery novel that follows detective Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crimes Division (NCD). Yes, he’s that Jack Spratt and in this alternate world nursery characters are real and live among us.
The NCD is under the microscope after Spratt fails to secure a conviction against the three pigs for death by scalding of Mr. Wolff. And now Humpty Dumpty has been murdered!
That’s the set-up and Fforde delivers with great nursery references (many of which I’m guessing I missed) and his usual absurd humor.
There’s nothing wrong with The Big Over Easy and yet, it’s not quite as inventive as The Eyre Affair, the first in the Thursday Next series. As much as I tried to simply enjoy The Big Over Easy for what it was, I couldn’t help but compare.
It didn’t help that Fforde draws at least one of his characters (Lola Vavoom) from the Thursday Next series into The Big Over Easy.
Comparisons aside, it’s a fun novel and yet again showcases Fforde’s ability to create a world populated with literary characters. This time it’s even more absurd because Fford draws on everything from a gigantic egg to a Greek Titan. Yes, Prometheus winds up living at the Spratt residence as he seeks asylum, escaping his daily liver pecking imprisonment.
The plot line of The Big Over Easy is satisfactory but nothing surprising. It’s a bit like a nursery version of CSI. That’s not why you read Fforde. Instead you get the clever newspaper excerpts at the beginning of each chapter and literary humor on nearly every page.
Read The Big Over Easy and become a fan of Fforde. Then read everything else he’s written.