"He explained the news to Mary, who said, `How about if we do a plot device number twenty-six and pretend not to look for him?'and
"`So you're suggesting we look for him against orders, catch him, cover ourselves with glory, and the by-the-book officers look like idiots?'
"Mary nodded enthusiastically. `Pretty much.'
"`No, we're going to follow plot device number thirty-eight.'
"Mary narrowed her eyes. `Which one is that again?'
"`We wait until they beg for our assistance, then save the day. For now we follow orders."
"`The Gingerbreadman is not an NCD investigation, Sergeant. You know that.'Jasper Fforde knows his crime-fiction plot devices. How well do you? What crime novels, stories, movies and television shows uses the devices he has his characters discuss? And what are the implications of having fictional characters discuss plot devices, particularly Jack's tentative "I don't think so, sir"?
"`It was a coincidence, sir,' she responded confidently. `Do you think I would be crazy enough to talked him on my own?'
"`Perhaps not you,' said Briggs, glancing at Jack. Briggs thought for a moment and narrowed his eyes. `This isn't plot device number twenty-seven, is it?' he asked suspiciously.
"`The one where my partner gets killed in a drug bust gone wrong and I throw in my badge and go rogue?' replied Jack innocently. `I don't think so, sir.'
"`No, not that one,' countered Briggs in a state of some confusion. `The one where you try and find the Gingerbreadman on the sly and make Copperfield and me look like idiots.'
"`That would be a twenty-nine, wouldn't it?' put in Mary, who wasn't going to miss out on the fun.
"` No, no,' said Jack, `Briggs means a twenty-six. A twenty-nine is where the bad guy turns out quite inexplicably to be the immediate superior.'"
(The Fourth Bear follows Fforde's first Nursery Crimes book, The Big Over Easy. It's highly entertaining reading, despite a stupid blurb from the Washington Times that Fforde is "our best thinking person's genre writer." (See critical clichés.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2008