The Fourth Bear: A Nursery Crime (Jack Spratt Investigates)
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The inimitable Jasper Fforde gives readers another delightful mash-up of detective fiction and nursery rhyme, returning to those mean streets where no character is innocent. The Gingerbreadman—sadist, psychopath, cookie—is on the loose in Reading, but that’s not who Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary are after. Instead, they’ve been demoted to searching for missing journalist “Goldy” Hatchett. The last witnesses to see her alive were the reclusive Three Bears, and right away Spratt senses something furry—uh, funny—about their story, starting with the porridge. The Fourth Bear is a delirious new romp from our most irrepressible fabulist.
“Yes, that was the 1979 cucumber growers’ national championships,” he said with a smile. “I remember it well.” Somehow it wasn’t the reaction they were hoping for. Evasive, difficult, unpleasant—any of those might have given some sort of hint that Bisky-Batt knew more than he said, but he was none of those things. As usual, he was helpful, open and pleasant. They turned up unannounced, and he agreed to see them without a murmur. “And why were you there?” asked Jack. “I was giving out the
mildly. What does he expect? The NCD isn’t governed by the same rules as conventional police work—if it were, there’d be no need for us.” “It’s all about readership and power, Jack,” observed Mary. “They want the readers to know that they can break heroes just as easily as they can make them.” “It’s not as though it’s even current news,” grumbled Jack. “How long’s it been since the wolf gig? A month?” “A week.” “Right—a quarter of a month, then.” He thought for a moment. “Speaking of
deal of trouble. Disrespectful headlines, awkward questions, press-conference grillings. But on the other hand, with Josh’s support the NCD might not get such a severe drubbing, and it might possibly even sway the Gingerbreadman case into his court. It smacked of sleeping with the enemy, but all of a sudden doing Josh Hatchett a favor seemed to make the vaguest semblance of sense. “Tell me,” said Jack, having a sudden idea, “was she very particular about things? Not too hot, not too cold, not
see here would have to be a fission device.” “Why?” asked Mary. “Simply stated, an A-bomb is the bringing to critical mass of a quantity of fissile material, say uranium 235. A lump of uranium 235 the size of a football would be critical; a lump the size of a golf ball would not.” “I get it,” said Jack. “Just add two uncritical masses together and bang, right?” “In essence. However, you can ignite even smaller lumps of fissile material by bringing them together very rapidly. In theory you
of milk teeth, and (2) stiff competition from Far Eastern tooth fairies, who can procure the same quantity for almost one-fiftieth the cost. —The Bumper Book of Berkshire Records, 2004 edition Before Jack had even had a chance to recover from the blow with the rolling pin, the back door opened again and Madeleine came out, her face crimson with anger. “You miserable, unreal piece of crap!” she screamed at the top of her voice, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I trusted you!” Jack tried