Once again, Mankind faces doom in another indescribable Elvis-filled gumshoe fantasy grab-bag, Rankin’s 30th outing (The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code, 2008, etc.).
Back in 1960s London, wannabe rock star and gumshoe Tyler, beguiled by Captain Lynch's stories of fabled Begrem, city of gold, forms a ukulele band, the Sumerian Kynges, only to get upstaged at his high-school concert by the Rolling Stones (who actually steal their ukuleles). But Tyler and his band have been promised fame and fortune by the mysterious Mr Ishmael (after having signed a contract in blood). Soon they're equipped with guitars, amps, drums, etc., only to have the equipment stolen. So Tyler, assisted by his mad brother Andy (he thinks he's a dog), sniffs out the equipment—in a graveyard populated by undead. The secret Ministry of Serendipity, who know about the zombies, capture Tyler and turn him into an amnesiac assassin. It turns out that the world is threatened by an evil magician and zombie master known as the Homunculus, whose ambition is to create a dead world, the Necrosphere. Arriving in New York with a traveling circus, Tyler will meet Lazlo Woodbine, the famous (fictional) detective, Elvis (of course Elvis) and Elvis's evil twin Keith (he's also the Pope). Eventually he’ll perfect the Tyler Technique of detecting, which involves (mostly) doing nothing at all. Confused yet?
The publisher describes Rankin as a “beloved British Eccentric.” Wrong. He's a total wack job. But if you can understand him, you'll find, oddly enough, that the more you think about it, the funnier it gets.