Published first: 2005
Genre: Crime fiction
Blurb: It's Easter in Reading - a bad time for eggs - and the shattered, tuxedo-clad corpse of local businessman Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III has been found lying beneath the wall in a shabby part of town. Humpty was one life's good guys - so who would want him knocked off? And is it a coincidence that his ex-wife has met with a sticky end down at the local biscuit factory?
A hardened cop on the mean streets of the Thames' Valley's most dangerous precinct, DI Jack Spratt has seen it all, and something tells him this is going to be a tough case to crack...
Crime fiction is one of my favourite genres, but this book takes it to an entire new level. What's so clever about it is that all the crimes are focused around nursery rhymes. DI Jack Spratt is the leader of the Nursery Crime Division (NCD) down at the police station, and solves crimes relating to: the murder of Mr Wolff after the three little pigs boiled him in a pot, the whereabouts of Little Bo Peep's sheep, and the suicide/murder/accidental death of Humpty after falling from his beloved wall. Despite the nursery-rhyme tangent that the book follows, it is not targeted at children. Fforde utilises the nursery rhyme ideas to craft satirical and humorous text together for the guarantee of an interesting read.
The plot is genius - as you follow the mystery behind Humpty's familiar death, you begin to realise just how many people want him dead, although an accidental death can not be ruled out just yet. At the final chapter you'll be content to find that Humpty's case is solved with a dramatic twist.
What the book could have improved on?
The book was a little longer than I had anticipated, and regularly lost focus of Humpty's mystery to venture into other nursery-rhyme character's lives.