After an absence of more than a decade (The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus, 1999, etc.), slippery Jim DiGriz reappears.
Harrison's light-fingered, silver-tongued rogue with a heart of—well bronze, anyway—is living it up with his beautiful and capable wife Angelina on the tourist planet of Moolaplenty when a mob of long-lost relatives shows up. Said relatives, led by cousin Elmo, were farmers of `porcuswine,` a cross between a pig and a porcupine, but the galactic recession's caused the bottom to drop out of the porcuswine futures market, so Elmo and friends need a new place to stay. Worse, they've incurred enormous debts; still worse, the vessel they arrived in is literally falling to pieces, and its current master is a villain. Still, Jim feels obligated—they are kin after all. But Elmo's debts are huge, and Jim and Angelina swiftly find themselves bankrupt, forced to take flight with a bunch of hicks and their hideous herd in a rickety, wheezing spaceship that's also been sabotaged, thoroughly and often, by its vengeful former owner. The book is lightly satirical, even more lightly amusing, made up of ideas borrowed from another comic Harrison series, Bill the Galactic Hero, and a plot straight out of Eric Frank Russell.
The Rat's back—faded, wrinkly and short of breath, but he's back.