Wednesday, March 01, 1995
Raiders of the Lost Car Park -- Robert Rankin
Robert Rankin’s previous novels didn’t make that much of an impression on me; competently written, ingeniously plotted and occasionally very funny, but something didn’t quite click. Despite this I tried to keep an open mind about Raiders of the Lost Car Park, and was pleasantly surprised. My knowledge has been broadened no end. I now know what really turns Prince Charles on (and the current royal revelations do little to disprove Mr. Rankin’s allegations); I’ve also discovered where travellers really come from, and the names of the people who are responsible for corn circles. And that’s not the half of it ...Rankin has a gift for describing people and places: from the opening scene in Minn’s Music Mine, where the ashtrays are overflowing with ancient stubs, to the grand finale in the King of the World’s throne room (located, unsurprisingly, somewhere under West London) there is an attention to detail which demonstrates a keen eye and a keener imagination. Cornelius Murphy (the Stuff of Epics) and his minuscule friend Tuppe make endearing heroes, matched with an equally appealing set of blacker-than-black villains and assorted helpers and hinderers. Throw in a suitable mixture of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, and a few traditions and old charters, and you have a hugely enjoyable book - much shorter than ‘Illuminatus!’, and even funnier. The humour isn’t as heavy-handed as Pratchett’s can be, and the self-referential mockery of Rankin’s style makes the text itself part of the joke, which should keep the post-modernists among us happy as well.