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    Review of THE FOURTH BEAR by Jasper Fforde (see his website)


    Viking, August 2006

    The Nursery Crime Division (NCD) can't rest on its laurels--evil characters (known as PDRs, or Persons of Doubtful Reality) continue to threaten lives. First, it's the Red Long-Legg'd Scissor-man who cuts off thumbs of thumb-sucking children. Then it's Punch and Judy moving next door (and fighting, loudly). When the notorious Gingerbread Man escapes, things really turn rough. But Jack Spratt, head of the NCD, is told to steer clear of the job. Real cops will handle the Gingerbread Man case, despite its obvious connection to Nursery Crime.

    Spratt has issues of his own--starting with admitting to his (second) wife that he is, in fact, an PDR himself (his first wife having died of eating too much fat). Then there's his new car--sold him by Dorian Gray, his daughter's upcoming wedding to Prometheus (and yes, they really have to invite Zeus), and an apparent missing person--Goldilocks, who was last seen in the general area of three (anthropomorphic) bears. Finally, and most strangely, there's the question of what happened to a cucumber farmer--could the 'Green Men' really be terrorizing innocent cucumber-growers?

    Author Jasper Fforde (see more reviews of novels by Fforde) is hitting his stride in the second book in this funny series. Fforde combines familiar characters and stories from nursery rhymes with mythology, classic literature, and wry social commentary in a laugh-out-loud adventure that, nevertheless, manages to offer engaging characters and a fast-paced plot.

    If you enjoy a book that'll make you laugh, make you think, and take you along for an exciting ride, you'll definitely want to get your hands on THE FOURTH BEAR. I'm happy to recommend this one.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 10/04/06

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