Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime, #2)” as Want to Read:
The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime #2)

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  18,452 Ratings  ·  1,113 Reviews
The inimitable Jasper Fforde gives readers another delightful mash-up of detective fiction and nursery rhyme, returning to those mean streets where no character is innocent. The Gingerbreadman--sadist, psychopath, cookie--is on the loose in Reading, but that's not who Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary are after. Instead, they've been demoted to searching for mis ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published July 31st 2007 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Fourth Bear, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Kristi It really works best if you read the first one first. That's really where they explain much of the "Nursery Rhymes" world and where you get a sense of…moreIt really works best if you read the first one first. That's really where they explain much of the "Nursery Rhymes" world and where you get a sense of who the Gingerbread Man is, which is important in the second book.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Megan Baxter
Sep 13, 2012 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement.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
Sep 02, 2008 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!!!
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
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
May 08, 2011 Chang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Exploding cucumbers and cakes as serial killers. Or is it cookies? And aliens. Conspiracies. Evil corporations. Bears, taking long walks in woods. Greek gods. Wedding planning.
Crazy crazy mix, concocting a hilarious, stunning and surprising story, impossible to read in public, like at all. Spontaneous chuckling and chortling and even cackling happens a lot. A lot.
Apr 02, 2008 Buzz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this series! Smart and funny; my favorite combination.
Mar 22, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended read (if only to learn who dates Pippa Pepper!)
Nov 08, 2016 KateNZ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals
DCI Jack Spratt's life as head of the Nursery Crime Division comes with its perils, and this story is no exception. Lambasted by the media after Red Riding Hood and her gran get eaten by a wolf, Jack is supposed to hand the reins to his number 2, Detective Sergeant Mary Mary. But then Goldilocks, a local journalist and Friend To Bears, goes missing after interviewing a prize cucumber grower who was then killed in a massive explosion that took out half the village of Obscurity. Is this somehow li ...more
Sep 25, 2007 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 27, 2013 melydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 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
Niki Vervaeke
Nov 02, 2016 Niki Vervaeke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Dus, je laat je fantasie volledig uit de bol gaan, smijt daar een suspense laag op van het niveau van Sherlock Holmes, met een creatieve taaltwist om u tegen te zeggen waardoor je in elke zin wel wat creatiefs en origineels te lezen krijgt. Het heeft ook iets van Walter Moers en Alice in Wonderland en dan toch weer wat Pratchett ook, maar anders...
Ik kan dit niet uitleggen, het is leuk, goed geschreven, het zijn fijne personages en het verhaal is origineel en toch niet cheesy

Lees Jasper FFOrde i
Fangs for the Fantasy
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
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
May 28, 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
Feb 28, 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
Apr 26, 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
May 19, 2008 Sfdreams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Kelsey Hanson
Apr 06, 2015 Kelsey Hanson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 19, 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
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
I am increasingly impressed by Fforde's writing. This book is amazingly original, witty, and creative. What impresses me more is that it is the sixth book he's written serially, and he has not fallen into several of the pitfalls I've often observed in serial writers: there has NOT been a noticeable a dip in quality, his plots have NOT felt "repetitive", his books do NOT get successively longer, and he has NOT started building cliffhangers into the ends of them.
Jan 28, 2008 Kirstin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2007
While The Eyre Affair was definitely the best of the books Jasper Fforde has written thus far, the Nursery Crimes series is nothing to scoff at. This was still an enjoyable romp in a slightly alternative reality where nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters live amongst us. And, really, who can’t enjoy a book where the central question revolves around whether gingerbread is a cake or a cookie?
Apr 04, 2008 Becca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sequel to The Big Over Easy. You get to learn more about the Jack Spratt protagonist and his family. Oh, the situations Fforde puts them into. It's so ridiculous, but Fforde writes it that way on purpose, and you just accept it. I think I want to own these. I like funny clever books. I think there's another on the way.
Oct 21, 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.
Jul 05, 2016 Maya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Jasper Fforde with the PUNS. I love all of them.

The Fourth Bear is able to merge a search for a killer (The Gingerbreadman - not a cake, he's a cookie!) and a missing persons case (for Goldilocks, of course) and still make cohesive sense when you add huge missile-sized cucumbers and science, and you've got a winner.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
  • Last Tango in Aberystwyth (Aberystwyth Noir, #2)
  • The Better Mousetrap (J. W. Wells & Co., #5)
  • Letters from LA
  • The Book Stops Here (Mobile Library Mystery, #3)
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
  • Chasing the Moon
  • Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures (Zamonia, #3)
  • Two Plays for Voices
  • Ten Second Staircase (Bryant & May, #4)
  • Justice Hall (Mary Russell, #6)
  • House of Meetings
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)

Share This Book

“Prejudice is a product of ignorance that hides behind barriers of tradition.” 71 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.”
More quotes…