The Big Over Easy – Review

The Big Over Easy Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the Kings Horses and all the King’s Men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

The death of one Humperdink Stuyvesant van Dumpty is at the root of this literary mystery novel for detectives Jack Spratt and Mary Mary of the Nursery Crime Division. After a depressing acquittal of murder charges brought against the Little Pigs for the death of “Big Bad” Wolffe, Jack Spratt is in need of a major case to help boost his career before the NCD is disbanded and Spratt is out of a job. New to the force is Mary Mary, who has something of a crush on Friedland Chymes, Reading’s most popular detective. In the city of Reading, the story is often more important than the actual case, since publication counts of cases are used in the criteria of a successful agent. Chymes and Spratt have a large bit of rivalry going throughout the case.

The case of Humpty Dumpy starts innocently enough, with a simple investigation of a possible suicide. But as forensics and common sense start to get involved, Spratt and Mary realize there is more than meets the eye as turn of events keep getting more and more confusing with each progression and appearance of evidence. Spratt is dealt with more questions than answers and more opposition than support from his superiors.

Although I am a fan of Fforde’s writing style and his witty use of puns and blatant literary allusions (are they still allusions when they are so obvious?), this book was not as good as The Eyre Affair of the Thursday Next series. In this book, I felt that there was plenty of set-up for Chymes to be the evil cop, but that expectation fell through, and Chymes was just whiny and stayed on the side-lines for the majority of the novel. The storyline is amusing, although I wasn’t laughing out loud at each page as many other reviewers claimed to have done. I did find the ending(s) endearing, just because Jack Spratt is a really lovable character. I think Fforde is very gifted at taking a simple nursery rhyme and creating a whole world around four simple lines. Although his characters could have used more work, I think his plot was well paced and effective.

From a previous Weekly Geek, a few other bloggers asked me some questions about this book, so I’ll answer them now:

Christine over at She Reads Books asked: How did you like The Big Over Easy? In particular, what did you think of the ending (and ending, and ending, and ending…)?

I liked the continuous ending. I think Fforde was wise enough to cut it off after a certain point and I think he was able to neatly tie up all the loose ends. I think the multiple endings was a big character trait of Spratt as well and worked in his favor for drawing sympathy from the readers.

Tiny Library over at The Tiny Reading Room asked: Did you find you enjoyed The Big Over Easy? Did you think the book “worked?” My book club had mixed reactions to it.

I did enjoy the book for the most part. A few characters I think should have been either more developed or just cut out completely. I think Fforde had an outline and premise for this book went about it in a way pleasing and fun way (if you like puns…which I love).


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The Big Over Easy
By Jasper Fforde
Hodder and Stoughton, 2005
ISBN 0340897104
398 pages

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