Author: Jasper Fforde, 2005.
Genre: Comic Fantasy. Crime. Police Procedural. Satire.
Other Details: Paperback. 398 pages.
'It looks like he died from injuries sustained during a fall...'
It's Easter in Reading - a bad time for eggs - and no one can remember the last sunny day. Humpty Dumpty, well-known nursery favourite, large egg, ex-convict and former millionaire philanthropist is found shattered beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Following the pathologist's careful reconstruction of Humpty's shell, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergeant Mary Mary are soon grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, the illegal Bearnaise sauce market, corporate politics and the cut and thrust world of international Chiropody. As Jack and Mary stumble around the streets of Reading in Jack's Lime Green Austin Allegro, the clues pile up, but Jack has his own problems to deal with. And on top of everything else, the JellyMan is coming to town... - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
This was so much fun and all through it I was admiring Fforde's skill in packing so much into the story including the hilarious newspaper articles at the start of each chapter. Two newspapers titled 'The Mole', and 'The Toad' were an obvious homage to 'The Wind in the Willows', the fantasy novel with anthropomorphic animals of the type found in this novel that was also set in Berkshire.
There is a great deal of gentle satire throughout poking fun at the concept of police detectives whose main concern is to write up their cases for True Crime magazines such as Amazing Crime Stories and Jack's rivalry with his one time partner now a prominent member of the Detectives Guild, Detective Chief Inspector Friedland Chymes. The difficulties between them came to a head some years before when Chymes took credit for the arrest of the notorious serial killer, Gingerbread Man, and he is now he is trying to take over the high profile Humpty Dumpty case by any means necessary. As I read quite a lot of crime novels as well as their telly box adaptations and the like, this aspect of the novel felt very spot on.
Jasper Fforde's writing is very intelligent and witty and he also weaves a satisfying whodunit. I loved it.
Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crimes web site - lots of extra features for this series. It is fairly clear that Jasper Fforde and friends had far too much fun creating the website.