Jasper Fforde, author of The Fourth Bear is a clever clever man. His writing is thick with duel meaning and wit and had me laughing out loud within the first few pages.
The Fourth Bear is reminiscent of Shrek in that it takes nursery stories and weaves them into what would otherwise be a normal book. Detective Chief Inspector Jack Spratt (yes, his first wife ate no lean), heads up the NCD (Nursery Crime Division) of the local police force. Their primary task is to deal with PDR's (People of Dubious Reality) and the crimes they may be involved in.
The passing of the Animal Equality Bill of 1962 giving all talking animals the right not to be exploited or hunted was a big step for Bears. Though a bill allowing them to protect themselves ("the right to arm bears") was defeated and they struggle with a few illegal substances such as euphoria-inducing porridge ("flake"), honey ("buzz"), and marmalade ("shred"), Ursine's generally live a peaceful existence. That is, until Goldilocks goes missing and the last to see her alive were The Three Bears.
Why was the baby bears porridge just right? Wouldn't it have been cooler than Mama bears since it was in a smaller bowl? And what was Goldilocks doing in the forest? Who was she meeting and why? These mysteries and many many more are solved as you are carried through an enjoyable tale of Nursery and Crime.