JASPER FFORDE BOOKS

BOOK REVIEW: THE FOURTH BEAR
BY JASPER FFORDE

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Readers the world over eagerly look forward to another book from Jasper Fforde. A delicious combination of humor, cliche, and suspense is always waiting.

The Fourth Bear is the second in Fforde's series of "nursery crimes." Nursery detective Jack Spratt and his partner Mary Mary receive a request from the brother of a newspaper reporter who has gone missing to find out what happened to his sister. Henrietta Hatchett was working on an investigative story which would uncover the details of a series of mysterious explosions world wide. Henrietta was known for her lovely blond hair and nicknamed "Goldilocks."

After this reviewer managed to get the preceding paragraph down on paper, things got messy. Let's see - anthropomorphic bears; atomic cold fusion involving a strain of cucumbers; a theme park recreating the WW One Battle of the Somme; a psychopathic gingerbread man; outsourcing the tooth fairy; porridge and honey regulated as controlled substances; a car which has uncanny things in common with the portrait of Dorian Gray; planning a wedding and trying to decide which Greek god properly belongs on the guest list; Mrs. Danvers (the characterization enacted by Anna Massey) lately of Manderley working as a government investigator; and characters who know perfectly well they are in a book and discuss which plot device to use next.

How can one reviewer weak from laughter do justice to a book which presents all of that? As with other books preceding this one, Fforde manages to present a decent police procedural in spite of it all. More than one cliche from mystery fiction is turned on its head and worked into the story. The final mix is very hard to describe and virtually impossible to put down.

REVIEWED BY WOODSTOCK

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, WOODSTOCK

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