The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde fulfills the “Book with a Plant in the Title or on the Cover” for the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. Technically, there are trees on the cover of my copy.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
I will admit this one is a bit of a cheat. I’m running out of time for 2019 and I still have eight books to go. Some of my last choices are HUGE books or super-tough reads. I could have stuck with the upper forty of the challenge, ignoring the Advanced Reading. But I only have three left. I read The Fourth Bear in the spring and thought since it had those nice trees that it could count. I put down Born in Fire and Hot Shot (my two other choices for the category) and wrote this up.
Jasper Fforde is brilliant. No two ways about it. If you’ve read the Thursday Next series, you understand my point. The Fourth Bear is the second book in the Nursery Crimes series. Much like Thursday Next, our hero Jack Sprat (yes, that Jack Sprat) is a detective in charge of all crimes concerning Nursery Rhyme character. Great concept, huh? (Read The Big Over Easy if you think I’m lying.) In this story, Jack investigates all things Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
OMG, the concept!
Fforde twists and turns these old stories in ways we can’t imagine. The reader never quite sees the solution until Mr. Fforde smacks them in the face. The novel entwines Bear issues (porridge substance abuse, the right to arm bears, and bear city life) with Dorian Gray (yes, that Dorian Gray), and the murderous Gingerbreadman. You never know what will happen. Fforde ties the story together with magical tape.
Let’s not forget the amazing subplots of Jack’s married life, the Gingerbreadman, and of course Goldilocks and the bears. Punch and Judy move in next door with many issues. Plus the murder of a reporter, Henrietta Hatchett, who bears a great resemblance to a certain blonde nursery rhyme little girl, and then the Gingerbreadman escapes the mental hospital after years of complacent treatment.
It also contains a vivid description of the Gingerbreadman and his reign of terror before Jack caught him the first time. And how he must catch the man again, even though he (Jack) is suspended from the Nursery Crimes division. Did I mention the notorious Great Red-Legg’d Scissorman? Fforde wraps all these great plots together in a compelling, funny story.
I never wanted the book to end.
If you still doubt the amazing writing, laugh-out-loud antics, and brilliant characters, go visit the Nursery Crimes page on Mr. Fforde’s website for more information about the campaign to arm bears, photos of various scenes, and much more.
I give The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde 5 bowls of fresh, hot porridge—just right.