The Fourth Bear

The Fourth Bear: A Nursery Crime by Jasper Fforde looked promising. “Brilliantly, breathlessly odd.” USA Today called it. ‘Odd’ is one of my favorite adjectives when applied to light prose, and the recommendations on the back cover of the book reinforced the impression, comparing Fforde to the creators of the Simpsons and to Douglas Adams, mentioning outrageous satirical agility, and so forth. I thought I was in for a treat.

What I got was certainly pleasant, and I did chuckle frequently while reading, but I was not swept away. Inspector Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crimes Division of the Reading police force is trying to solve the case of a missing reporter who went by the name Goldilocks, last seen in the company of three bears. She was preparing to blow the lid off a huge story that had something to do with championship cucumbers. Inspector Spratt is himself a PDR (Person of Dubious Reality), which makes him uniquely qualified to wade through the myriad of credulity-stretching oddities and clues. Meanwhile, the Gingerbreadman has escaped from the mental hospital and has resumed his killing spree…

There are puns aplenty, occasional self-referential humor, and a nudge-nudge feeling pervades the book. Being up on your nursery rhymes will certainly help; I was pretty vague on the Jack Sprat rhyme, for instance. While I found it easy to put the story down, I also found it easy to pick back up again.

Note: if you use the above link to buy this book (or a Kindle, or a new car), I get a kickback.

2 thoughts on “The Fourth Bear

  1. The premise was just too cutesy to really make sense. I have yet to see a good modern story made out of a fairy tale, except when the borrowing from the fairy tale is extremely indirect, in which case, the fairy tale is referred to obliquely, if at all.

  2. What are the bloggcomm opinions on the golden compass that is making such controversy lately? Raleigh Archdiocese has just come out against the movie. However I am more interested in opinions on the book series. I think, but can’t quite remember, that I picked up the first book a couple of years ago, only to set it down after 50 pages because I just plain didn’t care for it. Though not because of any problems with the politics; I just didn’t think it was any good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *