Sunday, 29 July 2007

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

First Among Sequels
Jasper Fforde
Hodder & Stoughton

THURSDAY Next, Jasper Fforde's literary (literally) detective, has some tough plots to crack. Her sullen son Friday must be mothered into adequate adulthood, as he's destined to be ChronoGuard director-general.

There's worse: funniness is leaking inexplicably from the novels of Thomas Hardy. Even Jude the Obscure, once full of laughs, is now morose.

And Thursday's haunted by her uncle Mycroft, whose keen mind had pushed the frontiers in disciplines ranging from fusion power to romantic fiction.

Amid government cuts, a dangerous surplus of national stupidity and a cover identity as a carpet fitter, Thursday must solve these mysteries.

On the side, she has a big cheese deal going across the borders in the Socialist Republic of Wales.

The horrible thing about this relentlessly funny book (a bit like being trapped with a joke-a-minute alcoholic) is that it's so near to truth in its Selbyesque surreality.

In one imagined reality TV show, Samaritan Kidney Swap, 10 renal failure patients try to persuade a donor, and voting viewers, which one should have his spare kidney - as done in reality (as a practical joke) last month in the Netherlands.

Jasper Fforde is a specialised taste, and for those who love quirky English humour, this will hit the spot.

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