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Publisher's Summary

The Gingerbreadman, psychopath, sadist, genius, and killer, is on the loose. But it isn't Jack Spratt's case. He and Mary Mary have been demoted to Missing Persons following Jack's poor judgment involving the poisoning of Mr. Bun the baker. Missing Persons looks like a boring assignment until a chance encounter leads them into the hunt for missing journalist Henrietta "Goldy" Hatchett, star reporter for The Daily Mole. Last to see her alive? The Three Bears, comfortably living out a life of rural solitude in Andersen's wood.

But all is not what it seems. How could the bears' porridge be at such disparate temperatures when they were poured at the same time? Why did Mr. and Mrs. Bear sleep in separate beds? Was there a fourth bear? And if there was, who was he, and why did he try to disguise Goldy's death as a freak accident?

Jack answers all these questions and a few others besides, rescues Mary Mary from almost certain death, and finally meets the Fourth Bear and the Gingerbreadman face-to-face.

©2006 Jasper Fforde; (P)2006 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and Books on Tape

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Gary
  • Lawrenceville, NJ, United States
  • 08-31-06


This delightful ASCII-to-Audio book is a whimsical, often laugh-out-loud-silly, sequel to "The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime" (which in itself should be regarded as a diversionary sub-sequel to "The Well of Lost Plots") and although it takes a chapter to get used to yet another new narrator, he's also very good.

The story line is no less complex, but it does tend to be a touch more farcical than the previous entries by Mr. Fforde. Worry not, this author knows how to tie up loose ends as no other author of speculative fiction in the English language. Well, he does tend to have a lot of ends in his hands compared to most, but it's a fine juggling act. Don't worry, just get it. It'll be over way too soon.

When Mr. Fforde steps out of the story to address the listener/reader directly for the first time in his books that at least I can remember, he does it quickly and well. And he does leave a broad hint that a certain favorite Spec Ops character is heading our way again.

The Toad, 2006

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Don
  • Virginia Beach, VA, USA
  • 09-01-07

Oh My Heavens! What a hoot!

This story is amazing! I haven't read someone (ok, listened) who can take simple tales and turn them inside out while spinning a tale of suspense and intrigue quite like J.F. The story is hysterical, the characters outlandish, the plot devices aren't predictable, and the use of childhood stories very original.

This is a must for anyone who likes the Xanth novels and other light hearted fantasy / SF type novels.

It inspires me to make sure my kids learn all of the fables this story uses so that they will appreciate the story in their later years.

I think I have listened to this title at least half a dozen times.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Rose
  • Chesapeake, OH, United States
  • 09-16-06

And Now for Something Completely Different

Not different from the author's other works, but with a certain Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Black Adder, Monty Pythonesque flair that had me laughing so hard I nearly ran off the road. Other than being careful when driving, the only other warning I would give to American readers is that you need to brush up on your Edward Lear poetry in order to fully appreciate characters such as the Dong with a Luminous Nose.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Aphion
  • ADA, OK, United States
  • 03-29-15

Simon Vance is fabulous!

The second book in this series is better than the first and leaves you wishing two things, that Simon Vance had narrated The Big Over Easy, and that Fford had written more than two Nursery Crimes.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Meg
  • San Angelo, TX, USA
  • 05-14-10

Great listen

This is so enjoyable. There are only 2 books in the series; they don't have to be done in order but it helps.
The first and also exetremely worthwhile book is 'The Big Overeasy'. I hope that everyone listens to these and delights in them like I have.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Brilliant on a new level

The whole premise, with nursery rhyme characters may seem shallow - but in fact the story is clever in its depth of wit and the author is brilliant in a very unique way.
Fans of the Thursday Next series will surely enjoy it -
if you are new to Jasper Fforde, expect a satirical kind of humor and action sequences that only occur after the plot has fully developed. It is more cerebral than emotional - except that I have come to love it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not Thursday Next but

Neither of the Nursery Crime novels are as interesting as the Thursday Next series, in my opinion, and this one was not even as good as The Big Over Easy. That said, there are still some clever moments and some that will make you smile. The narration is very good and the story moves along at a snappy pace. Not a bad listen, but I will be very happy to see Thursday come back.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Another great book by Fforde

If you are looking for a great book to listen to with the kids, look no further. This book is smart enough for older listeners but light hearted enough to entertain the kids. I find Fforde's MontyPythonesque humor to be really entertaining and recommend all of his books to those looking for a light fun read.

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  • Performance
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Excellent Sequel with New Narrator

What did you like best about this story?

The characters seemed to be aware that they were in a story and at times mentioned plot holes and wondering how the author could get away with a joke that had been set up from the beginning - but really didn't have a place in the plot. I enjoy a good story that's self-aware and self-deprecating so I enjoyed The Fourth Bear immensely.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

At first I had thought that the narrator was the same since I saw "Simon" (the previous was Simon Prebble) and I had wondered why he voiced Jack and Prometheus so differently. After I figured out it was a different narrator rather than the same guy inexplicably doing different voices/accents, I really liked him. In the beginning of every chapter, Fforde starts with a quote from the "Bumper Book of Berkshire Records, 2004 edition" and hearing Vance quickly say "Bumper Book of Berkshire" always cheered me up.

Who was the most memorable character of The Fourth Bear and why?

10111001000100111-11 (AKA: PC Ashley) got to shine in this book. We learned more about the Rambosians and how they relate to each other and to society (ie car-watching, coaster collecting, oil-eating). Rambosian's are physically memorable (blue, big-eyed aliens who are essentially walking water-balloons) but Ashley is memorable to me because of his innocence, optimism, and plucky courage.

Any additional comments?

You won't be disappointed with this book if you liked the first. :)

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  • Maryann
  • Birmingham, AL, United States
  • 10-24-15


Lively tongue in cheek book. The narrator is superb its worth listening to the book just
to hear Simon Vance and his interpretation of each character. I highly recommend for
a delightful light hearted experience.