Posts Tagged ‘humpty dumpty’

Detective Inspector Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crime Division, Reading and Berkshire Police Constabulary, has a new case on his hands.  Humpty Dumpty has had a great fall – and died.  But evidence shows that he was murdered, and it is up to Jack, with his new Sergeant Mary Mary (who can be quite contrary), and the rest of his team, to find out who did the dastardly deed.  During the course of the investigation, he also has to deal with his former partner Friedland Chymes, who wants to take the case off Jack’s hands, his daughter Pandora’s fascination with a 4000 year old Greek God, and the beans he has given his mother, which are growing into a huge beanstalk – which Jack has a curious impulse to climb…

This is quite an amusing story, as well as a decent murder mystery, and it is very cleverly written.  However, I did think it was flawed in places.  The references to various nursery rhyme characters and mythical beings were entertaining, but eventually there seemed to be too many of them cluttering up the story.

Having said that, Jack himself was a decent character, and very easy for the reader to side with.  Mary Mary was also very likeable, and it was interesting to see how the characters’ relationship turned from merely civil – neither of them really wants to be working with the other – to a respect for each other.  The mystery itself was intricate and well plotted – I had no idea who the guilty party was and couldn’t have guessed the ending.

Each chapter had a little excerpt from a fictional newspaper or magazine, which referenced different fairy tales, which in Jack’s world are true stories, and these were actually one of my favourite parts of the book.  Various nursery rhymes and children’s tales are turned on their head (for example, at the start of the book Jack has just come from a failed attempt at convicting the three little pigs of the murder of the local wolf known as Big Bad.  The pigs claimed self defence, saying that the wolf had destroyed their homes, and threatened to eat them, and…well you get the picture).  These were great, but there were too many other obvious references to such stories peppered through the narrative, which I felt were somewhat superfluous.

All griping aside though, there really is plenty to enjoy here, for fans of the fantasy genre, or readers who just like some absurdity in their reading!  It’s the first one of a new series, and on balance, I would probably read more.  I had been really looking forward to this book, as I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Eyre Affair.  This book was not as good as The Eyre Affair, but I did find myself looking forward to picking it up, and often trying to squeeze just a few more pages in.  There are some great supporting characters, such as the alien police officer on Jack’s team, Jack’s wife and family, Solomon Grundy – a shady businessman, and Humpty himself (although he is found dead at the beginning of the book, I felt that his character was built up through people’s recollections of him and the events which led to his death).

Lots of humour then, and a good murder mystery.  Yes, there’s a few too many unnecessary nursery rhyme references, but overall it was an enjoyable read and if it didn’t make me laugh out loud, it definitely made me smile several times.

Author’s website can be found here.)


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