Monday, November 06, 2006

Who Killed Goldilocks?

I finished reading The Fourth Bear, Jasper Fforde's latest last night. I had wondered how he was going to manage to pull together all these wild and seemingly unrelated pieces, but he did. And of course there was much cleverness involved. One of the things I enjoyed about the book was the characters would sometimes make comments about the story and the author. For instance, there is a very minor character named Pippa Piper who is very attractive and everyone in the Reading Police department is always wondering who will finally convince Pippa to go out on a date. At last we learn that "Pippa's pregnant by Peck." Can you see where this is going? After several tongue twisting exchanges,

There was a pause. "It seems a very laborious setup for a pretty lame joke, doesn't it? mused Jack. "Yes," agreed Mary, shaking her head sadly. "I really don't know how he gets away with it."
I don't know why, but characters commenting on their own story tickles my fancy. The Fourth Bear is book two in Fforde's Nursery Crime series. The first book, The Big Over Easy, was about Humpty Dumpty. This one has a Goldilocks angle. I enjoyed The Fourth Bear much more than I did The Big Over Easy. The story, while elaborate, went along more smoothly. I found the writing and characterization in The Big Over Easy forced, not so with The Fourth Bear. I can't quite put my finger on what the difference is, a lighter touch maybe? Less need for backstory or explanation? Whatever the difference is, it made for a more entertaining reading experience. And how many books do you know of that come with special features In a previous post about the book, I mentioned Dorian Gray sells Jack a used car with a painting in the trunk and then disappears. Dorian Gray did not actually show up in person again, though they were able to track down records of his other car sales as well as information about the cars and the people who bought them. I don't want to give anything away so let's just say that Dorian Gray is the most nefarious used car salesman ever. And Thursday Next fans will be happy to know that, according to the last page of the book, July 2007 will see Thursday's return in The War of the Words. Woo hoo!