The Fourth Bear, by Jasper Fforde (audio)

fourth bearThe Fourth Bear is the second title in the Nursery Crime series by Jasper Fforde, following The Big Over Easy. Jack Spratt and Mary Mary of the Nursery Crime Division of Reading’s police department are back for another mystery, this time involving Goldilocks (a journalist), a handful of bears, a psychopathic murderous gingerbread man, and exploding cucumbers.

Once again, I have to say that I adore Jasper Fforde. I can’t read his books too often or too close together, but if I spread them out every 6-9 months or so, they’re such a delight! I think I liked The Fourth Bear better than The Big Over Easy. It had me laughing from the moment used car salesman Dorian Gray sold Jack Spratt a pristine car with the “Dorian Guarantee,” complete with painting in the trunk, and I pretty much never stopped the whole way through.

There are two reasons that these books delight me so much. The first is that while they are mysteries, they’re not ones you’re meant to figure out ahead of time. With Fforde, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. You know it’ll all be cleared up and explained in the end, every lose end tied up and interconnected in some way, and in the meantime, you just have fun watching it all come together. It makes for a very relaxing reading experience. The second is that Fforde is one of those authors that seems to have so much fun with his writing. It’s almost as if I can hear him laughing as he finds ways to weave together all these pieces in a way that is so clever and fun. It’s not just that he’s a master craftsman – which he is – but that he seems to truly enjoy what he’s doing.

And of course, as I’ve said before, there is a deeper side to these books under all the humor. Stuff touched on in The Fourth Bear: the power of corporations, discrimination against a specific group, prohibition, the importance of honesty, corrupt government officials, post traumatic stress disorder (particularly due to war), immigration, and unregulated scientific testing. None of it is in-your-face, but all there lightly to look at if you want to read past the wit and fun. Just another reason why these books are awesome.

Performance: I listened to the audio read by Simon Vance, who did an excellent job! He reminded me a lot of Martin Jarvis as a narrator and I’d be happy to listen to more audiobooks narrated by him. I was particularly impressed with his ability to read out the binary sections. 😀

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2011, Adult, Prose and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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