The Fourth Bear

A Nursery Crime
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Series: A Nursery Crime Novel, Book 2
Length: 10 hrs and 54 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (870 ratings)

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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

Critic Reviews

"Jasper Fforde is able to write diabolically.... Outrageous satirical agility is his stock in trade." (The New York Times

"Like the creators of...The Simpsons and South Park, Mr. Fforde uses fantasy to dissect real life.... He is our best thinking person's genre writer." (The Washington Times

"Mr. Fforde manages to bombard the reader with more bizarre detail than most writers would dare to fit in their entire oeuvre, yet he does so with...light prose and easy, confident wit." (The Wall Street Journal

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

10001001110000111

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

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another Whimsical but Solid Mystery

Another win for Fforde. This was a fun romp through the fairy tale world of Jack Spratt, and like in The Big Over Easy, the mystery at the heart of story is a good hearty riddle to puzzle through. My one complaint for this audio book is perhaps a matter of comparison, namely that the narrator of The Big Over Easy was so good, everything else seems second rate. I didn't like how heavy or lumbering Jack sounded here, for example, and the accents with the foreign scientists at the beginning was a bewildering mash of random dialects. Lots of little annoyances like that. But the biggest challenge was the voice for Prometheus, with the demigod now sounding like Michael Scott's Mikonos character... very cheap sounding Greek stereotype. Ugh. Otherwise the narrator did fine, but it was a distractor from the story. Loved the story and still had quite a few "driveway moments " where I just had to hear a few more minutes.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So much fun on so many levels

Loved this book! Outside the box creativity. I loved the humor,the story,the mystery. Excellently narrated.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

More please!

I loved this book!!! I stumbled into this series and I thank the audiobook gods. Jack and Mary Mary are the best dynamic duo!

I love the inventiveness of the author. The Gingerbread Man is a serial killer. Punch and Judy are marriage counselors. Insane!! All of these stories intersect until the fourth bear is revealed. Genius!!

The narrator is pretty special as well. It takes a special talent to voice a serial killing cake/cookie, an alien (well, several, actually), a variety of bears, and an insane amount of nursery rhyme characters, not to mention Poseidon. (Did I forget to mention him?)

More please!!