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The Toyminator    by Robert Rankin order for
by Robert Rankin
Order:  USA  Can
Orion, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by David Pitt

The sequel to The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse finds private detective (and recently deposed Toy City mayor) Eddie Bear re-teaming with his former partner, Jack, to find out who's behind an outbreak of Spontaneous Toy Combustion.

Yes, it sounds like a children's novel, but it isn't. Rankin's brilliance lies in writing loopy, goofy, silly stories for adults that only sound like kids' stories. They're full of puns, in-jokes, film references, daffy wordplay, and acres and acres of fun. Rankin writes about things that couldn't possibly exist - in this case, a city in which toys are living creatures - as though they're the most ordinary things in the world. He doesn't waste our time trying to convince us to believe in the unbelievable; he just sort of behaves as though there's nothing odd going on whatsoever.

The Toyminator, for instance, not only features a walking, talking teddy bear as its hero; it also features clockwork cars, a tiny-toy barkeeper, space aliens, a conspiracy involving chickens, and a death-defying journey through the Toy Town sign to a strange and wondrous land called Los Angeles. All of it is entirely plausible, in Rankin's hands.

I've been waiting for The Toyminator since I read about its impending publication, roughly this time last year. Meantime I've re-read my small collection of Rankin's novels (he's written a lot more, but damned if I can find them anywhere), quenching my thirst until I had the new one in my hands. That's how good Rankin is: you have to keep topping up the tank with reruns until you get your hands on a new one.

And meanwhile, you haunt the used bookstores looking for the ones you don't already have. Good luck with that, and if you find any, please let me know.

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