With characters named Jack Spratt, Mary Mary, Goldilocks, and the Gingerbreadman, there is no doubt of the nursery rhyme connection to this murder mystery. In The Fourth Bear author Jasper Fforde blends some familiar characters with a murder mystery. Jack Spratt heads the Nursery Crime Division of a local police department and investigates crimes by nursery characters.
“Jack stared at her coldly. “You don’t get it, do you?” he said after a pause, his voice rising. “In the world of nursery crime, some things just happen, despite my best endeavors. Humpty takes a nose dive, the pigs boil the wolf—and Riding-Hood and her gran get eaten. In my world, the world of the vaguely predestined, you have to work five times as hard to involve yourself in the unfolding of the case and ten times harder still to change the outcome. I couldn’t stop the wolf eating them—but I did my best.”
This is not one for the kiddies as Mr. Gingerbreadman may not be very cutsey and the fourth bear is one to watch. The novel has a lot of humor and while knowledge of nursery rhymes is not a necessity, it does help.