The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Publisher: Penguin Books
Synopsis: A return to the seedy underbelly of nursery crime, where characters are never as innocent as they seem. Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary long to collar The Gingerbread man - psychopath, sadist, criminal genius, cookie - who's at large in Reading. Instead, their demoted to searching for missing journalist Henrietta "Goldy" Hatchett. The last witness to see her alive were the reclusive three bears, and Jack thinks something's odd about their story. How could that porridge be too hot, too cold and just right if it was poured at the same time? The question is was there a fourth bear?
Review: I would love to be inside Jasper Fforde's head for just a little while. What an amazing imagination he has. I am continuously enthralled by his wit and attention to detail. The sarcastic comments, the bizarre characters and amazing literary references that flavor all of his books never leave you wanted but usually leave you chuckling.
This is the 2nd Nursery Crimes book, the first had Jack and Mary Mary solving the case of Humpty Dumpty in The Big Over Easy. In this one the Nursery Crimes division is not getting such good press after a wolf ate red riding hood and her grandmother whole. Jack is being investigated for being too insane to run the NCD when Mary Mary thinks he's not crazy enough. The two discover a porridge ring, wind up investigating the disappearance and death of reporter "Goldy" Hatchett, and the homicidal cookie the Gingerbread man is on the loose again after escaping from the hospital.
All is not well in the town of Reading and with Fforde's dry humor and incredible knack for puns and amazing recall of nursery rhymes The Fourth Bear is a wild ride. If you are a lover of literature and the absurd then Fforde is an author to pursue. From Dorian Grey, to Punch and Judy and obscure nursery rhymes I now I have to look up these books stimulate your mind and make you giggle.