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The Fourth Bear (2006)

The Fourth Bear (2006)

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4.06 of 5 Votes: 5
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0670037729 (ISBN13: 9780670037728)
viking adult

About book The Fourth Bear (2006)

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 hero returns. Jack Spratt is riding high off his success in the Humpty Dumpty case (from THE BIG OVER EASY), and together with Mary Mary they continue to do work for the Reading Police Department's Nursery Crime Division. He's starting to take some shots from reporters after a mix-up in the Red Riding Hood case. There's also an inquiry into using children as bait in capturing The Great Long Red-Legg'd Scissor-man. Just as it seems he's doomed, along comes the case to end all cases.Evil, savage and murderous on a scale never before seen, the Gingerbreadman has escaped from St. Cerebellum's Hospital where he was serving a 400-year sentence. Bodies sans arms lie in his wake.Jack sees the opportunity to get back in good graces with the media. The only problem is that he has just been notified that he is demoted to Missing Persons. Feeling the kiss of death on his career, Jack and Mary Mary find some interest in a missing journalist, who was last seen alive by The Three Bears.All of this explodes into action and mayhem as Jack and Mary Mary seek to answer the tough investigative questions: Why do Mr. and Mrs. Bear have separate beds? Why is there so marked a temperature difference in the three porridge bowls? And who is the previously unheard of Fourth Bear and what has he to do with the Gingerbreadman? And if that weren't enough, Jack is also due for a psychological exam to determine if he is sane enough to continue running the Nursery Crime Division.As with all of his work, Fforde has a great sense of intensity and mystery but also a finely crafted ability to inject just enough humor and absurdity to keep you genuinely hooked. His works prior to this have all been rapid page-turners, and THE FOURTH BEAR is no exception. Where else can you meet such a cavalcade of characters lumped together, not to mention also having Dorian Grey as a used car salesman and Punch and Judy as your rowdy next door neighbors? And let's not even get started on the aliens.Fforde present his stories with great charm and wit, and though THE FOURTH BEAR takes place within the realm of children's Nursery Rhymes, they are perfectly defined and never go overboard into becoming unbelievable. His wordplay and his knowledge of literature in general are a true gift. One he has chosen to share.You would be remiss if you passed it up.

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 it would be. Although the beginning felt a bit clunky, I quickly found myself immersed in the world of Reading and all its wonderful mayhem. The Fourth Bear walks that fine line between an original concept and the comfortable familiarity of police procedure in the mystery genre. The book is aware of all the tropes, cliches, and mystery plot point and embraces them all with an enthusiasm and self awareness that made me smile. However, because of the oddness and randomness of the world itself I can honestly say I never knew what was going to happen next. This world was just so full of possibilities that I could never pin down just exactly how it would all end till the very end. This kept me reading into the night and well past my bedtime. Another big plus for me was the characters. To start with the Gingerbread Man genuinely freaked me out. Imagining this over sized evil cookie should not be scary, but it was creepy how evil he was and not knowing when he was going to pop up next and cause trouble was a great through line. I also loved the secondary plot line of Jack's family and possibly malicious car and Mary Mary's dating life. It added to the story by making the characters more than just police officers. It added to their personalities and made the bizarre world of Reading a little more grounded in reality. I also totally fell in love with Ashley. That squishy alien stole my squishy heart. However, I also have to point out that this book was not perfect. There was the unfortunate choice of having each chapter begin with a excerpt from a fictional book that tells us all about the official records set in the area. At some points these paragraph long excerpts would give us some additional information about what was going on in the story, but in my opinion they were just an excuse to have paragraphs of exposition that could have easily been taken out. It kept breaking up the flow of the story and were totally unnecessary. Without this I would have easily rated this a five star book. All in all this book was still very solid and I will definitely be looking into the other books in this series. I cannot wait to see what else can be done with this concept!

Do You like book The Fourth Bear (2006)?

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 missed: "Somme World," a new theme park that simulates the experience of being in the trenches during one of WWI's most pointless and costly battles. Fun for the whole family! (On a personal note, last year when I had my Satire class read "The Well of Lost Plots," some of the students decided that Jasper Fforde looked like me, ergo I might actually be Jasper Fforde. Can I just say, I'd have no objections to that at all! Who has more fun with literature than Jasper Fforde, I ask you?)

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). . .Rambosians speak binary. Jack Spratt is investigating the death of Goldylocks. If all the porridge was poured at the same time, why did they have such different temperatures?? Was there. . .perhaps. . .a fourth bear?????

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 deliberately predictable due to the nature of the stories its mocking), the rather absurdist fantasy elements pretty much allow anything to happen.
—This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For

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