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The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime #2)

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  17,369 Ratings  ·  1,054 Reviews
Jack Spratt and Mary Mary return in their second adventure from the inimitable Jasper Fforde

Five years ago, Viking introduced Jasper Fforde and his upsidedown, inside-out literary crime masterpieces. And as they move from Thursday Next to Jack Spratt’s Nursery Crimes, his audience is insatiable and growing. Now, with The Fourth Bear, Jack Spratt and Mary Mary take on the
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published August 3rd 2006 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2006)
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Sep 07, 2008 Joel rated it really liked it
So far, this is my favorite of the Jasper Fforde books. The wordplay and puns just keep on coming, but I also enjoyed the meta-fictional elements going on here. Storybook characters who know they're storybook characters (or, in Fforde's parlance, Persons of Dubious Reality), plot devices named and numbered, even comments on flat characters (the sadness of knowing you aren't fully developed) and jokes that are too much of a stretch.

As far as the Nursery Crimes go, this one is a beauty: the Ginger
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Another excellent book by a truly gifted writer. While not quite as good as The Big Over Easy which I thought was simply amazing, this is still a very high quality effort. Highly Recommended!!!
Sep 15, 2012 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comic-fantasy
I'd like to start this review by saying that Jasper Fforde is a genius. I loved his Thursday Next series, thoroughly enjoyed the first Nursery Crimes book (The Big Over Easy), and can honestly say this is hands-down my favourite of his books.

The Fourth Bear is, ostensibly, Fforde's take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. But there's so much more to the story than just that one fairy tale. Add a murderous gingerbread man, Jack's habit of accidentally killing giants (and coming across extremely fa
I’m not sure whether it’s the book, or whether I was just in the perfect mood for it, but regardless, the result is the same. The Fourth Bear is my favorite of the seven Jasper Fforde novels I’ve read. The first five Thursday Next Novels are fun but can be a bit overwhelming, and sometimes downright confusing, and the first Nursery Crime book, The Big Over Easy, does a little bit too much work setting up the Nursery Crime world to really enjoy its premise. But everything is very clear and deligh ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Chang rated it it was amazing
Cuculear power! The Battle of the Somme! Ginga assassins! Aliens from outer space! A conspiracy run by an evil multinational corporation! A woman in uniform flashing the International Space Station! "Pippa Piper picking Peter 'pockmarked' Peck of Pembroke Park over Picker or Pepper!"

It's outrageous, zany and fun. Imagine Scheherazade spinning a tale out of your childhood nursery stories, except she's been sucking on a hookah and freed from the constraints imposed by an English teacher. For anyon
Jun 11, 2016 Milou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is just so hilarious. It may not be for everyone, but the humour was just right up my alley. I laughed out loud every page and constantly Had to text people about all the genius jokes.

‘He escaped ninety-seven minutes ago. Killed two male nurses and his doctor with his bare hands. The other three orderlies who accompanied him are critical in hospital.’
‘Yes; don’t like the food, beds uncomfortable, waiting lists too long – usual crap. Other than that, they’re fine.’

There are
Jun 29, 2008 Buzz rated it really liked it
I really loved this series! Smart and funny; my favorite combination.
Oct 12, 2007 Mark rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: girls and boys who like their porridge just right
Shelves: recentlyread
Jack Spratt and his NCD (Nursery Crime Division) team must solve the murder of Goldilocks (in a politically-sensitive modern climate of bear activism and rampant ursism) while tracking down the escaped psycho-killer known as the Ginger Bread Man, all while Jack is under suspension and being outed as a PDR (a person of dubious reality) himself. Jack has a great new car he bought from dealer Dorian Gray that instantly repairs itself--as long as a certain painting remains intact.... Also not to be ...more
Mar 25, 2013 melydia rated it really liked it
Oh, goodness, I'm not even sure where to start. The Gingerbread Man is a psychotic killer who escapes from jail. Goldilocks is found dead in a partly-finished WWI theme park. Sinister events plague the cutthroat world of competitive cucumber-growing. Bears deal in illicit porridge paraphernalia. Punch and Judy are marriage counselors. The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous, but Detective Jack Spratt is on the case. I got quite a few chuckles out of this one, but most of the really good laughs ...more
May 09, 2007 Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I love Jasper Fforde. I want to have coffee with him, because if he is anything like his books then it would be one hell of a coffee date.

Nursery Rhyme characters are real and live in Reading, U.K. -- Punch and Judy make loud next door neighbors, Humpty Dumpty was murderd last book, the Gingerbread Man is a psychotic killer, and so on.

Rambosians are aliens that have applied for earth citizenship because they love bureaucracy and 1970s sitcoms (many have been granted said citizenship). . .Rambo
Fangs for the Fantasy
Jan 25, 2015 Fangs for the Fantasy rated it really liked it
The Gingerbread man, a lethal serial killing cookie, has escaped from prison and is rampaging through Reading. But Jack is off the case – his unfortunate miscalculation that involved Little Red Riding Hood being swallowed by a wolf has left him with a bad reputation and he’s officially suspended – but also free to pursue a related missing person’s case.

As he deepens the search (and continues to haunt the Nursery Crimes offices) for the missing Goldilocks, clues eventually lead to the Three Bears
Apr 30, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought Fforde's Thursday Next was quite bonkers but this was my first foray into his Nursery Crimes series and I discovered a higher level of bonkers.

In a world where characters from nursery rhymes exist in the town of Reading, Berkshire, the Nursery Crimes Division of the local police force keep them in check. Jack Sprat, Mary Mary and alien Ash are sent to investigate a missing person. And that missing person is Goldilocks.

Enter an elborate plot featuring the three little bears, a multina
Jan 19, 2015 Jessica-Robyn rated it really liked it
In The Fourth Bear, mystery meets fantasy as we enter a world of police procedure like I've never seen it before. The story follows Inspectors Jack Spratt and Mary Mary as they head up the Nursery Crime Division in the town of Reading. They specialize in crimes featuring familiar faces of our collective quaint childhood memories in a dark and twisted reality where the Gingerbread Man is a highly skilled serial killer and Goldilocks ends up dead.

The Fourth Bear was pretty much everything I hoped
Megan Baxter
May 19, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
Nursery Crime Division head, Jack Spratt, has a Gingerbreadman on the loose. And a missing reporter named Goldilocks. And Punch and Judy just moved in next door, raising the noise level in the neighbourhood considerably.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
May 21, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
The NCD is back in action! What really happened to Goldilocks? If you can figure out why one bowl of porridge was to hot, one to cold and one was just right, when they were poured at the same time you might be getting close. Why she disappeared is yet another question. Could it have to do with the story she was following on the cucumber competitors? Again a very humorous play on words that really makes for a fantastic reading experience. I definitely felt author Fforde deserved a ffive star revi ...more
Mar 21, 2011 Anastasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hilarious-books
Those of us who read the Big Over Easy will love that this second novel in the Nursery Crime series picks up pretty much where the first novel left off. Things get way more complicated, and hilarious, for Jack Spratt as he wrestles with the demands of the NCD and trying to convince his superiors (and his co-workers) that he isn't completely bonkers! The NCD has fallen out of public favor after Jack let Red Riding Hood and her Gran get eaten by the big bad Wolf, the murderous psychopath Gingerbre ...more
May 19, 2008 Sfdreams rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of puns and humor
Shelves: reviewed
In this second book in the Nursery Crimes series, the Nursery Crimes Division is once again in disfavor after the Red Riding Hood debacle. So when the Gingerbreadman, a heinous serial killer that Jack Spratt caught years ago, escapes from the criminally insane asylum where he has be incarcerated, the case is given to DCI David Copperfield instead. This leaves Jack Spratt to investigate the disappearance of Goldilocks while trying to avoid the mandated psychiatric evaluation his superiors have re ...more
Amanda Patterson
Nov 16, 2010 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it
The Nursery Crime Division Series is the new offering from this great, comic writer. Fforde sees and shows the absurdity of modern day society in this beautifully crafted satire.
The Gingerbreadman, a convicted murderer, sadist and sociopath is loose on the streets of Reading. Detective Chief Inspector Jack Spratt is assigned to the case.
Goldy Hatchett has gone missing and the Three Bears living on the edge of Andersen’s Wood were the last to see her alive. Spratt investigates. But all is not wha
Oct 26, 2014 Argum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was much better than the first. Much more of that Thursday Next magic. In this entry Jack Sprat and Mary Mary have to catch the Gingerbreadman without being on the case and solve the mystery of Goldilocks. Bears get a lovely role in the satire of a right to arm bears. Funny family drama too. Much funnier much better satire.
Kelsey Hanson
Dec 12, 2015 Kelsey Hanson rated it really liked it
I love this weird twisted series! Like the Big Over Easy, this book has a very sophisticated crime procedure style mystery with beloved fairy tales and nursery rhyme characters woven in. This book is full of satire and has many humorous moments. The characters occassionally break the fourth wall (typically to make fun of the author) and it brings back many of the characters you loved in the first book. I also really liked the addition of Punch and Judy as marriage counselors. This gets a slightl ...more
Apr 21, 2015 HomeInMyShoes rated it really liked it
Favorite author I've found this year. Smart, witty.

What's not to like about a homicidal gingerbread man. I never really liked mysteries, but reading Fforde and Haas the last couple of years has made me rethink my usual 'meh' reaction to mysteries.
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
Very much in the same style as the previous NCD book, as well as Fforde's other works, The Fourth Bear is a mix of humor, mystery, and nursery rhyme tales, filled with jokes, gags, and puns. In this book, Fforde particularly takes on the 4th wall, occasionally having his characters comment on the story itself, such as a reference to "plot holes" or a brief discussion about how convoluted the set up for a rather poor joke actually was. While some of the story is predictable (in fact, its delibera ...more
Susan Banner
Sep 11, 2015 Susan Banner rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
I don't know what Fforde is drinking and/or smoking, but his wit and tales are terrific!
Melissa McShane
This installment in the Nursery Crimes series isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as some of Fforde's other books, but the parody is still strong and there's plenty to like here. It's interesting to keep in mind, as I read it, that technically Jack Spratt and Mary Mary are in a book that exists in the Thursday Next series--the book Thursday uses as a hideout from Goliath as she's expecting her son and trying to get her husband re-actualized. I half expect Thursday to show up at some point, though by t ...more
Richard Thompson
Mar 11, 2016 Richard Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
From the Goodreads blurb:

"The Gingerbreadman ~ psychopath, sadist, genius, convicted murderer and cake/biscuit ~ is loose in the streets of Reading. It isn't Jack Sprat's case. Despite the success of the Humpty Dumpty investigation, their well publicised failure to prevent Red Riding Hood and her Gran being eaten once again plunges the Nursery Crime Division into controversy.
Enforced non-involvement with the Gingerbreadman hunt looks to be frustrating until a chance encounter at the oddly famili
Jun 18, 2015 Steve added it
Shelves: bookreporter
If you have not yet entered into the worlds as seen through the eyes of Jasper Fforde, then you are truly missing out on something remarkable. He does not see the world the way others see it. Underneath the norm he finds the absurd, and the normal seems abnormal while the odd seems commonplace and natural. Somehow it always seems to work. In THE FOURTH BEAR, Fforde once again returns to his version of Reading, UK, and opens up another laugh-out-loud tale of mystery, murder and literature.

The her
R.E. Conary
May 19, 2015 R.E. Conary rated it really liked it
Lots of laughs and mystery too

Take a break from the raw blood and gore of Millar, Bruen and Deaver and laugh yourself silly with Fforde.

Tongue firmly stuck in cheek this is not your children's nursery rhyme story nor your average whodunnit. It's as solid a police procedural as one by Ian Rankin, Ed McBain, Colin Dexter, Michael Connelly or P. D. James all disguised as Mother Goose.

The Gingerbreadman is on the loose. Goldilocks is missing. Mysterious explosions have been reported. Not to worry; D
Mar 14, 2015 Kit rated it it was amazing
Jasper Fforde is absolutely terrific. Now with both Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett dead (I'm SO sorry about Terry! A brave man, smart and wonderful; a great loss) Jasper Fforde is now my go-to guy for crazy, funny, so-true adventures with a British sensibility.

If you haven't read Fforde's Thursday Next series, you are in for a treat. Start with THE EYRE AFFAIR and you're off--for booklovers there's little better.

This book, and its earlier THE BIG OVER EASY take up a different thread--the li
Letitia Moffitt
Feb 21, 2015 Letitia Moffitt rated it really liked it
Ridiculous and hilarious. Don't even bother trying to suspend disbelief; that's so not the point of this nutty romp.
Feb 20, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it
While I didn't enjoy The Big Over Easy, I definitely enjoyed the second in the Nursery Crimes series, The Fourth Bear. (Though I do wish it had a different title!) The book continues the adventures--or misadventures--of Inspector Jack Spratt, Sergeant Mary Mary, and the alien, Ashley. All three, of course, work for the Nursery Crime Division of Reading. Conditionally at least, when they're not on probation or leave of absence. Jack Spratt is initially disappointed that his boss, Briggs, is not a ...more
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Jasper Fforde is a novelist living in Wales. He is the son of John Standish Fforde, the 24th Chief Cashier for the Bank of England, whose signature used to appear on sterling banknotes, and is cousin of Desmond Fforde, married to author Katie Fforde. His early career was spent as a focus puller in the film industry, where he worked on a number of films including Quills, GoldenEye, and Entrapment.

More about Jasper Fforde...

Other Books in the Series

Nursery Crime (3 books)
  • The Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime, #1)
  • The Last Great Tortoise Race (Nursery Crime, #3)

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“Prejudice is a product of ignorance that hides behind barriers of tradition.” 67 likes
“A missing arm might ruin your symmetry. Personal asymmetry where I come from is a big taboo and brings great shame on the family and sometimes even the whole village."

"Do you then have to kill yourself over it or something?"

"Goodness me, no! The family and village just have to learn to be ashamed--and nuts to them for being so oversensitive.”
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