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by Jasper Fforde
Hodder, June 2007
400 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0340835737

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Detectives Jack Spratt and Mary Mary of the Nursery Crime unit of the Reading police department have quite a few crimes to solve. Gossip columnist Goldilocks is missing and presumed dead from an explosion that might have been set by the three bears and possibly a fourth bear she once was associated with. Punch and Judy are at it again beating each other up and possibly putting their children in danger. The bears in the bear community are stealing sugar and getting involved with things they shouldn't be, and most importantly, the Gingerbreadman, an infamous serial killer, has escaped the mental hospital he's been in and has to be caught before he kills again.

In this town of Reading, the population is made up of two different segments, those who come from a nursery rhymes and real people. Those from nursery rhymes are known as Persons of Dubious Reality (PDR). Since he looks normal Jack wants to hide the fact that he is a PDR, and is even trying to hide that fact from his wife, friends, and co-workers.

Things just aren't going well for Jack right now. His boss has just taken him off the Gingerbreadman case because the fact that he couldn't stop the Big, Bad Wolf from swallowing Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother (don't worry, they both survived) was splashed all over the media. Jack's not happy about it. He's solved many cases in the past. After all, he didn't become DCI for nothing.

THE FOURTH BEAR by Jasper Fforde is the first book I've read in this very strange but interesting series. At first I found it a little confusing and odd, but as I continued to read I found myself chuckling quite a bit.

Fforde has created a wonderful world where nursery rhyme characters and real people live together. Of course the real people don't especially like the nursery rhyme characters, there is some prejudice against them, but basically they live together peacefully.

THE FOURTH BEAR is filled with satire and reminds me of other stories like Alice In Wonderland and Gulliver's Travels.

If you pick up a copy of any of Fforde's Nursery Crimes books and enter this amazing world of nursery rhyme characters, you will be assured of a surprising and different reading experience.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, August 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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