Fforde has this effect, though; I can't stop reading them once I start. And Nicole was right, The Fourth Bear is far superior - imho - to The Big Over Easy. It handles the metafiction more smoothly, and the characters are more nuanced - in part because detective Jack Spratt turns out to recognize after all that he's a nursery character. He's just hiding it (even from us in internal monologues, apparently, in the first book...).
If you've enjoyed bits of the other Fforde novels, read this one. You should read The Big Over Easy first as necessary background, but this book is seriously for you. If you haven't read it, and are worried about Eoin Colfer writing the upcoming Hitchhiker's volume, read this book - it's as if Douglas Adams wrote a mystery novel set partially inside fiction, and it'll relax you like nobody's business.
I mentioned in reviewing The Big Over Easy that said volume had great chapter epigraphs, mostly from fictional newspapers. Well, these ones are at least as good, as well as mostly from The Bumper Book of Berkshire Records (2004 edition), like this one:
Most Dangerous Baked Object. A hands-down win for the Gingerbreadman, incarcerated at St Cerebellum's secure hospital for the criminally deranged since 1984. Currently serving a four-hundred-year sentence for the murder and torture of his 104 known victims. His crimes easily outrank those of the second-most dangerous baked object, a fruitcake accidentally soaked in weed-killer rather than sherry by Mrs Austen of Pembridge, then served up to members of the Women's Federation during a talk about the remedial benefits of basket-weaving. The final death toll is reputed to have been sixty-two.Plus I never thought I'd be able to link Jasper Fforde to my (ahem) scholarly research, but this one fits nicely into my eco reading. Delightful.