The Fandom of the Operator
(Doubleday, £16.99, 288 pages, hardback; published 8 November 2001;
received 3 October 2001. Mass market paperback published by Corgi, £5.99,
367 pages; published 4 April 2002.)
Rankin is an acquired taste; his stories evolve around twists and turns,
and do not take prisoners in their surreal absurdity. I relish
opportunity to read one of his novels, and unfortunately, I found this
particular offering a slight disappointment.
Gary Cheese has the unenviable ability to reanimate the dead via his
skills in voodoo ... and ends up working for a telecommunications company.
There his role in life is to switch off a light bulb whenever it lights.
In no time at all, he discovers that the company has a direct line with
the other side, and is also part of a huge governmental conspiracy which
is hidden deep under the feet of the residents of Mornington Crescent.
There's enjoyment to be had in reading this, for Rankin litters the
proceedings with his usual witticisms and tremendous turns of phrases,
but it made me barely lift a smile. A typical Rankin novel would give
me guffaws of laughter, and I would need to stop reading and compose
myself before continuing.
Perhaps it's only fair to allow Rankin at least one or two below par
novels, for he is usually a consistently funny writer.
On the whole, if you're already a fan then you've probably already
purchased this book, but if you're on the fringes or new to his work,
then I'd personally go for his far better Armageddon Trilogy,
or his latest The Chocolate Coloured Bunnies of the Apocalypse.
Review by Christopher Teague.
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