His stories are a rich mixture of alternative history, surrealism, zaniness, classic, academic and popular literature, detective fiction,geography, popular culture, logic, illogic and wordplay. In the Thursday Next series, his protagonist is a detective who has to physically enter into works of fiction to prevent bad guys from nefarious deeds that require the manipulation of well-known plots and characters. In the Nursery Crimes series, a detective agency is responsible for solving murders and mysteries that take place in the world of well-known Mother Goose nursery rhymes. I am almost finished with The Big Over Easy where detectives Jack Spratt and Mary Mary (who is very professional despite her inability to resist being contrary) are following up on the mysterious doings around Humpty Dumpty's fall. Was it murder and if so, who would have motive and means to do in this popular egg who has left a mysterious trail of lovers, stock manipulations, and other questionable dealings behind?
To dip into Fforde's work, start with The Eyre Affair, his first published book, where his heroine, Thursday Next (that's her name, not an appointment) is introduced. The success of that book propelled him to continue the Thursday Next stories and then, at his publisher's request, to resurrect the Nursery Crimes books that he had written earlier and had failed to get published. I have seen him speak twice and his directness and honesty about himself, his writing and his books don't detract from the same playfulness, wit, and verbal antics that make his books so much fun. He also spoke about Lewis Carroll last night and urged us all to read the chapter about the White Knight in Through the Looking Glass. I intend to do that, perhaps this evening.