Fforde’s previous books featured literary detective Thursday Next, and were set in a world where fiction is altogether real. They’re quite unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and are a lot of fun. But now, Fforde is beginning a new series. And he’s still playing with the borders of reality. What we have here is a police procedural thriller set in a world ever so slightly different from our own.
Detective Inspector Jack Spratt is head of the NCD (Nursery Crimes Division) in Reading. Passed over for promotion, generally sidelined and about to have his division wound up, Jack’s not happy. He’s even less happy that he failed to secure a conviction in the case of the killing of Mr Wolff by the three Pigs.
Detective Sergeant Mary Mary isn’t too happy, either. She’s transferred from Basingstoke, and with an eye on her career, she’d rather be working for the glamorous Detective Chief Inspector Freidland Chymes, who’s well up in the Guild of Detectives and who always gets a good write-up in Amazing Crime Stories. But instead, she finds herself assigned to Jack and his small group of misfits.
Then the Big Case comes in, and nothing will ever be the same again. Humpty Dumpty has had a fall, and it’s going to take a more than some King’s horses and men to put him together again. But did he fall, or was he pushed? But Humpty has been depressed lately – could he have killed himself? Or is something more sinister going on?
Why was Humpty buying shares in a footcare company on the verge of collapse? Why does Chymes want to take the case away from Jack? Is any giant (or tall person) safe near Jack? Will Mary fit in with Jack and his staff?
All this, plus a beanstalk and much more.
Madder than Robert Rankin on one of his really good days. Very silly, very funny, and yet still manages to be an involving story with sympathetic characters.
A sequel is promised. I’m looking forward to it already.
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 Or something like that, anyway
 Sort of
 Who doesn’t eat fat, and has an unearned reputation for killing giants
 OK, warning time. A lot of Fforde’s humour comes from characters with silly names. Friedland Chymes is one of many. Personally, I like that kind of thing
 Fforde is deliberately playing every clichÃ© in the detective story book…