The First 100 Pages Book Review
I don't get much chance to read. I grab paragraphs while shaving and brushing my teeth, while completing a download. When I'm reading a book I enjoy, I think about the review I might write when I finish. But I often don't finish. When I do, I've forgotten why I really liked it as I was reading it.
So, I'm reading a book and I want to tell you about it. It may have a crappy ending, I don't know. But I'm 100 pages in, and it's swell.
It's called The Big Over Easy, and I think it was pretty much written for me. One of those books I think I'd write if I and my family were willing to give up the public-school-teacher-lifestyle to which we've become accustomed while I quit my job and sit alone with my laptop waiting for inspiration and movie deals to descend.
This book is dang clever. The premise: Detective Investigator Jack Spratt works for the Nursery Crimes Division of the police force. If a crime is committed involving characters from Mother Goose, fables or myth (characters with real lives outside of their stories), he's the guy you call.
It's what I used to call a "potboiler", which I thought was synonymous with "gritty, pulpy" until I found out that potboiler referred to a book an author cranks out to keep the franchise rolling (pot boiling). So it's not a potboiler. It's Hammett-esque.
I'd spell out the plot, but I'm only 100 pages in. I do know that Humpty Dumpty's been killed. He was a womanizing drunk involved in shady financial dealings, and someone bumped him off (the wall).
Why I like this book:
pg. 58, description of how things usually go down in the NCD:
...There's usually a rule of three somewhere. Either quantitative, as in bears, billy goats, blind mice, little pigs, fiddlers, bags of wool or what-have-you, or qualitative, such as small, medium, large, stupid, stupider, stupidest. If you come across any stepmothers, they're usually evil, woodcutters always come into fame and fortune, orphans are ten a penny, and pigs, cats, bears and wolves frequently anthropomorphize.
pg. 76, they meet constable Tibbit, a fellow raised on wordplay. (longer, but worth it)
"...Sergeant Mary Mary, pleased to meet you."
The young officer thought for a moment. "Arrange a...symmetry."
He didn't answer for a moment, then said
"Are you OK?"
"Of course! It's an anagram. The trick is to make them make sense. I could have give you 'my matey arrangers' or 'my artery managers' but they sort of sound like anagrams, don't you agree?
"Tibbit. It's a palindrome. Easy to remember."
"Otto. Palindrome as well. Sister's name is Hannah. Father liked word games. Fourteen times world Scrabble champion. When he died, we buried him at Queenzieburn to make use of the triple word score. He spent the better part of his life campaigning to have respelt those words that look as though they're spelt wrongly but aren't."
"Oh, skiing, vacuum, freest, eczema, gnu, diarrhea, that sort of thing. He also thought that 'abbreviation' was too long for its meaning, that 'monosyllabic' should have one syllable, 'dyslexia' should be renamed 'O' and 'unspeakable' should be respelt 'unsfzpxkable.'
Since I started writing this a week ago, I've gotten 50 more pages, so I've added
pg. 148, where our heroes meet suspect Lord Spongg.
"Thank you for seeing us, Lord Spongg-" began Mary, but Spongg interuppted her.
"Just 'Spongg' will do, Sergeant. I don't use my title much, but the first 'g' is short and the second 'g' long. Let it roll around for a bit before you let it go."
"Close enough. Just put the brakes on a little earlier and you'll be fine."
That's all I got. A post of almost-all-copied text, very little insight or critique. It feels cheap, but there it is.
This is the first book in author Jasper Fforde's new series. Before this, he wrote a mystery series called Thursday Next, which I plan to check out.
cc: New York Times Book Review
Posted by Eric "Babe" Morse at 11.4.06