three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
13-Nov-Dec-2004
user_rating: 
0

A Thursday Next Mystery

A-SomethingRottenLiterary Detective Thursday Next can literally enter a book to solve a crime or track down a roaming, errant character. This fourth offering in the Thursday Next series opens in 1988, with the former head of Jurisfiction (the policing of the insides of books) hunting for a minotaur in an old pulp Western and searching for her lost husband. But first she must deal with Hamlet (the Prince of Denmark), the evil Goliath Corporation, and Lewis Carroll. From the pages of The Oklahoma Kid to the "real world" (in which Hamlet visits with Thursday’s mother in Wessex, England), Fforde keeps Thursday moving swiftly through the pages—and the pages of the pages—of his latest novel.
Viking. 385 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0670033596

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"The latest installment in the Thursday Next series is impressive, and arguably Fforde’s best work to date. … Some readers may also see a measure of political satire that emerges more sharply than in his previous books." Robin Vidimos

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Something Rotten, like Fforde’s previous work, is a novel in which anything can happen and no line of dialogue is too absurd. ... [T]his novel is worth reading for anyone with an insatiable appetite for cleverness—that includes typographical wit and wonderfully quirky illustrations." Carmela Ciuraru

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Mr. Fforde’s penchant for plotting knows no bounds, nor does his taste for awful puns ... It’s easy to be delighted by a writer who loves books so madly—and who can imagine a Hamlet who roams the real world, declaring: ‘That Freud fellow will have a bloody nose if ever I meet him.’ Mr. Fforde is the man who could arrange that meeting." Janet Maslin

S Florida Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Until now, Fforde’s book world has remained a separate, escapist universe. With Something Rotten, that bubble has burst as Fforde delivers a potently political tale that tips its feathered cap at the coming election in America." John Freeman

Washington Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Reading Something Rotten is somewhat akin to sitting through a 24-hour Monty Python marathon: After a while, even the most diehard fan may find herself yawning and wishing for—well, something completely different. … Still, I laughed out loud five times and snickered 31: not a bad rate." Elizabeth Hand

Dallas Morning News 2 of 5 Stars
"Everything Mr. Fforde does well he does here with a degree of skill not seen in his previous novels. … Yet Something Rotten lacks heart." Joseph Milazzo

Critical Summary

The fourth title in the highly original Thursday Next series may attract new readers to Fforde’s witty world. Fforde began with The Eyre Affair ( 4 of 5 Stars Summer 2002), followed by Lost in a Good Book ( 3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2003) and The Well of Lost Plots ( 4 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2004). Loyal fans will once again appreciate Fforde’s literary gags, deadpan humor, and surprising twists. This time, he adds in new political farce. But critics also note the novel’s glacial pacing, inconsistent humor, and lack of inspiration (at least, compared to its three predecessors). Fforde novices should definitely start with the first in the series, which puts Thursday’s life in some kind of strange perspective. And you’ll know after the first fifty pages if the next thousand in the series are to your taste. The split in reviews is partially due to one’s tendency either to revel in Fforde’s sense of humor or to find all the non-stop literary references a bit exhausting; as Thursday’s father comments to his daughter, "it’s a bit like having a tumble dryer in your head, Sweetpea." But there’s no stopping Next now—the fifth installment is planned for 2005.