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The Big Over Easy

(Nursery Crime #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  30,359 ratings  ·  2,263 reviews
It's Easter in Reading—a bad time for eggs—and no one can remember the last sunny day. Ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III, minor baronet, ex-convict, and former millionaire philanthropist, is found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. All the evidence points to his ex-wife, who has conveniently shot herself.

But Detectiv
Paperback, 383 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Penguin (first published July 11th 2005)
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Jackie Tougas No, apparently he was a character created by the author. See attached link for discussion questions:…more
No, apparently he was a character created by the author. See attached link for discussion questions:

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Was it an EGGcident…or cold-yoked murder?

When Humpty Dumpty, local businessman and infamous lothario, is found dead beneath a wall outside his Grimm’s Road apartment, Detective Jack Spratt of the Reading (pronounced Redding) Nursery Crime Division (NCD) is called in to investigate. Jack is a smart, capable, no-fat eating investigator whose previous collars include the apprehensions of (i) serial wife-killer, Bluebeard, (ii) psychotic mass-murderer, The Gingerbread Man and (iii) a certain bridg
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
5 Things To Know Before Reading This Book

1. It is a murder mystery.
2. The victim is an enormous egg named Humpty Dumpty. (He fell off a wall … or was pushed or possibly shot.)
3. The detective investigating the crime is named Jack Spratt. His partner is Mary Mary.
4. Jack and Mary work for the Nursery Crimes Division (NCD).
5. You should brush up on your nursery rhymes and fairy tales before reading so as to fully enjoy the book. (It took me almost halfway through to dredge up the fact that Jack’s
Aug 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2007
Jasper Fforde is just so much fun. His books are sorta like beach reads for book nerds. They're playful, punny, funny, silly, and smart. Also I saw him read in a small bookstore in SoHo a couple of years ago and he is hilarious. He talked about how he and his kids play games in supermarkets where they put really incongruous and semi-embarrasing things in other people's shopping carts (I think he called them 'trolleys' because of course he British or maybe Austrailian?), like adult diapers for y ...more
Melissa Chung
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This is my first experience with Jasper Fforde and I have to say I really enjoyed this book. I read this story out loud to my children. A few parts I said "kissing" instead of you know what. Overall very enjoyable, especially if you are old enough to know all the nursery rhymes. I grew up reading Mother Goose, so I knew them all. My 13 year old unfortunately skipped that book on his shelf teehee. I had to read the rhymes so he would know where the characters came from.

If you didn't read the syno
Jul 01, 2020 is currently reading it
In progress.

But-- wow: GR blurb: one of the worst summaries ever about the focus of the story. And contains a serious spoiler.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of mysteries, people with a sense of the ridiculous
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
07/15: Finished it today. So damn funny, if you like puns and referential literary humor and British mysteries. Simultaneously a romp (yes, a romp!) through nursery rhymes and fairy tales, while sending up the ridiculousness of both old-school murder mysteries and modern-day police procedurals. Recommended to anyone who likes mysteries and fairy tales. Will definitely be checking out the next one from the library in short order.

07/14: Halfway through. Can't wait to finish. If Wales were not so v
Maria Elmvang
Amazon calls this "probably Fforde's weakest novel" - a statement I must say I highly disagree with. It's much better than Lost in a Good Book and almost on par with The Eyre Affair - something which I thought absolutely impossible.

I love how Fforde dares to use the media to get his point across and how he plays around with commonly known concepts and stories without ever blatantly showing his readers "This is what I'm talking about, I'm so obvious you have to get it now!". He perfectly masters
Peter Tillman
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, reread-list
Who killed Humpty Dumpty? In this amazingly silly police-procedural, we follow Detective-Inspector Jack Spratt (aka Jack Beanstalk, Giant Killer) and Detective Sergeant Mary Mary of the Reading Police, Nursery Crimes Division through the twists and turns of this, um, fractured fairy-tale. Just about every half-remembered nursery-rhyme character makes an appearance: The Three Little Pigs, Rumplestilkin, clues such as an auburn, 28-foot long human hair -- along with more about podiatry than you re ...more
Jan 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having really enjoyed, “The Eyre Affair,” I was looking forward to reading this, the first in the ‘Nursery Crimes’ series. DS Mary Mary transfers to Reading Central Police Station, hoping to work with her hero, DCI Friedland Chymes. As with, “The Eyre Affair,” this is a slightly twisted version of reality – so, in this world, the police are lauded not for their ability to solve crimes, but to publish them in crime magazines. In order to become a success, detectives need to join the Guild of Dete ...more
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jasper Fforde, lover of slapstick and absurdity has another winner with this series of Nursery Rhyme crimes. Many of your favourite nursery rhyme character will appear in this humorous tale of the demise of big egg and womaniser Humpty Dumpty who fell off a wall - or was he pushed or shot or drugged or poisoned?

Jack Spratt who likes his bacon lean and has accidently killed several giants (although he claims three of them were just very tall men) is an Inspector in the Nursery Crimes Division wh
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding! This may be my next book club recommendation. Being a mom of a toddler makes it even more amusing - especially when reading Mother Goose before bedtime. I normally avoid mysteries but I highly recommend this one.

Despite the dry and everpresent humor, it still wasn't hard to come up with my favorite paragraph:

An official report confirms what most of us have already suspected: that the alien visitors who arrived unexpectedly on the planet four years ago ar
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Maggie by: Carol
I’d wanted to start this review with ”tongue in cheek" and was thinking the phrase is a dated expression – so I Googled it “it is ironic, slyly humorous; not meant to be taken seriously, however its sarcasm is subtle”. Take off the subtle and you're there as far as book description. For fans of British humor, wry, droll - especially entertaining for fans of mystery, specifically British mystery series that it alludes to often.

If you are prone to bone deep depression upon reminders that the gener
This was hard for me to love at first. I knew it was trying to be funny, but I kept taking it too seriously. Previous to chapter 16 I was prepared to write this review: "Didn't like it as much as I wanted to." After my husband explained the nursery rhyme that was meant to be the heading to chapter 19, I lightened up and found myself laughing as I had hoped at the beginning. It's a bit like a Monty Python movie... or Zoolander... the first time it just seems like stupidity... but then you find yo ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jasper Fforde is a master and he has done it again with this book. I couldn't put it down.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
If you’re more wired than I am to appreciate big doses of cute-clever, this is a better than 3 star read.

There is a story woven into the cute-clever. And Fforde is an able and creative story teller.

I enjoy the Thursday series, which is plenty imaginative. With this nursery rhyme (for adults) series he has gone beyond my appreciative capacity.

But I can still see that this is well done for what it is. I admired what he did here more than enjoyed the read, but I fully acknowledge that this is tr
Melissa McShane
I picked this up for some light comfort reading over the weekend, and it did not disappoint. This is by way of being a very loose spin-off from the Thursday Next books (Thursday encounters Mary Mary's home in a book character exchange program) and really is a standalone series. Detective Jack Spratt heads up the Nursery Crime division at the Reading police department, and when Humpty Dumpty is found dead at the base of a wall, shattered into a thousand pieces, the case is clearly his and just as ...more
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book several years ago, and so don’t have a lot to say about it today. I reread it as part of my book club, but in the intervening years, the distance gave me some perspective that let me recognize or enjoy a few more jokes:

* Charles Pewter, of The Diary of an Ordinary Man shows up in the book, with a couple funny jokes about his house.
* I’ve come to appreciate the vast number of goofs on the genre that Fforde perpetrates. I still particularly like the attention to what car Jack dr
Feb 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
Absolutely dreadful. In no way was I expecting this novel, a mystery about the death of an alcoholic, womanizing Humpty Dumpty, to remotely resemble great literature. Unfortunately, though, it didn't even succeed as fun, breezy summer brain candy.

Fforde suffers from an acute case of cleverness overload--every sentence reads like he's trying way to hard to be witty. Plus, while normally I love contemporary literature that rewrites fairy tales or folklore, in this book it felt like a cheap gimmic
Nov 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, humour, crime
I've found Jasper Fforde's books generally fun/amusing. I'd read the Thursday Next books; I expected to enjoy Nursery Crimes. There was nothing I'd point to that was wrong with the book, although being familiar with his writing, I wasn't terribly surprised by the tone, form, style, etc, etc. Someone else described it as a "beach read for nerds" -- which sounds just about right to me. It's heavy on puns and references, light on real characterisation. While there has to be a plot, it feels very mu ...more
Megan Baxter
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's a sense of contagious literary joy about Jasper Fforde's works, a gleeful irreverence that is not disdain, a mocking that still allows for enjoyment. It's not mean-spirited, and what amazes me most about this particular series is that it manages to poke fun at the tropes of the mystery novel and of nursery rhymes, while still being a damned good murder mystery. It's got the conventions down, using them even as they are subverted, and highlighting them through investigating nursery crimes ...more
Lis Carey
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
In case you were worried: No, Jasper Fforde has not run out of weird, twisted things to do to defenseless Literature.

Jack Spratt, his second wife, and their five children (two his, two hers, one theirs) are living happily in Reading, England. Well, reasonably happily. Jack, a policeman, has the dubious honor of being the head of the Nursery Crimes unit. He and his tiny unit believe in the importance of their jobs, but no one else does. And they've just experienced the embarrassing, and more impo
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comic-fantasy
After reading a couple of really heavy stories, I felt the need for something light. Something fun. Something that I could sink my teeth into, only to find it was full of chocolate. And that’s why I picked up this book, at this time.

Many, many years ago I picked up Jasper Fforde’s ’The Eyre Affair’ at a small bookshop when I was desperate for something to read. I went on to devour the rest of the Thursday Next series, and fell in love with Fforde’s voice and style. He’s the type of storyteller w
Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At that moment one of the dogs got out of its basket, pushed forth its front legs and stretched. The hamstrings on its hind legs quivered with effort and at the climax of its stretch it lowered its head, raised its tail and farted so loudly that the other dogs glanced up with a look of astonishment and admiration.

Oh the imagery – and the smellagery (?).

You probably already have an idea what the story is about so enough of that.

For me, this was an iterative reading experience. Like plain beef
Timelord Iain
This book was a hoot, to quote Choko... throw all your old nursery rhymes in a blender and throw them into the real world, and you'd have the beginnings of this book... much more than that is hard to explain, but it's hilarious...
Cute little “nursery rhyme” of sorts.
This book just sucks you right in.  And I'm entirely sorry that I'd set it aside in my attempts to get some other books finished, because I should have just kept reading.  I most definitely would have finished it a lot earlier.

Slow paced as it is, it's also a lot of fun to read, and the investigation kind of intriguing to follow, even though Jack is the worst at jumping to conclusions before gathering all his facts.  He's a great detective and all, you can see that, but I had to sigh at each tim
Dec 04, 2010 rated it liked it
While I really enjoyed this as another of Fforde's puntastic romps, I didn't really feel like it stacked up to the Thursday Next or chromatics series.

I enjoyed it well enough, but the perspective shifts were sometimes jarring, and, at the end of the day, it read more like any other police procedural novel, with nursery rhyme puns. While those puns certainly added to my enjoyment, it didn't make up for all the other ordinary elements within the book.

Also, the book felt a lot like it was cramming
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of puns and humor
Shelves: reviewed
I read this book while waiting for the second Thursday Next novel to be available at the library.

Like the Thursday Next novels, Fforde presents a world where fiction blends with reality. In the Nursery Crime novels, nursery rhyme characters are "real", and there is a division of the police that deals specifically with crimes involving nursery characters.

In this first book of a series, Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and shattered into bits. Was he pushed? Was it suicide? This is a case for the u
Nov 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
A cleverly written book about the death of Humpty Dumpty and the detectives Jack Sprat and Mary Mary who are on the case. Many references are made to nursery rhyme characters. This author has another series and the first book is "The Eyre Affair" that has something to do with Jane Eyre being kidnapped.
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hilarious-books
This is one of the best, funniest books I have ever read, and I'm not exaggerating! Jasper Fforde has brought fairy tales to life, and the world is so much better with them in it! I recommend this book for absolutely everyone; it's a fairy-tale, but one written for totally, smart serious people.
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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

Other books in the series

Nursery Crime (3 books)
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