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The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime, #2)
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The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime #2)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  19,504 Ratings  ·  1,159 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 Penguin (first published January 1st 2006)
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Ed Yerke-Robins I ended up reading The Fourth Bear first as well (I found it on accident while searching at the library, had never heard of the author & didn't…moreI ended up reading The Fourth Bear first as well (I found it on accident while searching at the library, had never heard of the author & didn't know it was a series). I had no problem following along with the characters or the world - if anything, when I then read the first book, The Big Over Easy, I was a little impatient with the explicit world-building I already knew from The Fourth Bear. Still, both were wonderfully engaging, and I frequently laughed out loud.(less)

Community Reviews

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Megan Baxter
Sep 13, 2012 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Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement.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
Sep 02, 2008 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!!!
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 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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
I really loved this series! Smart and funny; my favorite combination.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended read (if only to learn who dates Pippa Pepper!)
Kathy Davie
Second in the Nursery Crime take-off-on nursery rhymes and fairytales series and revolving around a police division headed up by Jack Spratt. It’s been four months since The Big Over Easy , 1.

My Take
This one is a bit confusing, but don’t worry about it. Eventually it all comes right, as Fforde just has to set up that bit of foreshadowing. Of course, those epigraphs were still totally weird, and I don’t see how the majority of them contributed to the story. The concept, sure. But.

I do wish that
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 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
Feb 27, 2013 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
Apr 25, 2007 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 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
THE FOURTH BEAR. (2006). Jasper Fford. ****.
Ingenious, clever, and well-written. These describe the works of Jasper Fford. This title represents an adventure from his “Nursery Rhyme” series, featuring DI Jack Spratt. (Note that our clever detective has two “t’s” in his last name to distinguish him from the other Sprat who could eat no fat.) In this episode we soon learn that bears play a big role in the nursery rhyme kingdom. The first place we meet up with them is from the story, “Goldilocks an
David Smith
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Funny as all get-out. Read it and weep. With laughter.
Fangs for the Fantasy
Jan 25, 2015 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
Jan 03, 2015 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
Sep 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had hoped that the second book in the series would continue to develop the characters of Jack and his family, because I thought that was a strong part of The Big Over Easy and helped off-set all the nursery rhyme references, of which there were far too many, I thought. However, in The Fourth Bear Fforde doubles down on the convoluted and frankly ridiculous plotting while spending little time with Spratt, even though Spratt's status as a nursery rhyme character himself is revealed to his wife w ...more
May 28, 2016 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 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 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 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 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
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 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
May 19, 2014 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
Sep 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
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Around the Year i...: The Fourth Bear, by Jasper Fforde 1 8 Jan 09, 2018 09:44AM  
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Fforde began his career in the film industry, and for nineteen years held a variety of posts on such movies as Goldeneye, The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment. Secretly harbouring a desire to tell his own stories rather than help other people tell their's, Jasper started writing in 1988, and spent eleven years secretly writing novel after novel as he strove to find a style of his own that was a no-man ...more
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)
“Prejudice is a product of ignorance that hides behind barriers of tradition.” 74 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…