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Whenever there is something that comes along and makes an enormous amount of cold hard cash it wont be much longer until various rip-offs come too. It happens in music with the influx of normal sounding singers since the success of the Artic Monkeys and in film with LOTR wannabes popping up left, right and centre. This means that the world of literature is unlikely to be immune and this is certainly the case with The De Vinci Code. Publishers are so desperate to ride on this book's coattails that they have gone as far as to rename 10 year old books and re-release them with titles like, The Jesus Codex. However, not all books will try to rip off Dan Brown and we already know that judging a book by its cover can be an issue. The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code is something completely different.
Jonny Hooker is not a well man, if hes not talking to his best pal the imaginary monkey Mr Giggles, he is trying to make the make farmers market in the attic shut up. What Jonny does not realise is that fate has a path for him that begins when a pamphlet is delivered asking him to solve the Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code. It turns out that all songs contain this rhythm and that this might all be linked to the rise of Satan from hell. With invisibility suits, the Queen, Elvis and a talking dog, Jonny may have bitten off more than he can chew when he sets off to discover the reasons behind the year of rock death.
Like all Robert Rankin novels The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code is an acquired taste. Unlike his novels set in Toy City, Code is a Brentford book and therefore immediately alienates new readers with numerous in-jokes and asides. However, Code also highlights Rankin at his best when he takes an interesting central concept and runs with it in a strange and new direction. In this case it is the interesting facts behind an American Blues Singer who reportedly sold his soul to the devil to be given unique musical talents. Reportedly, ever since this day other musicians have done the same and they have all gone on the die at the age of 27 Kurt Cobain etc. Having heard of this concept myself it made the book immediately more interesting as its a concept that only a chosen few people know about.
Therefore, it is somewhat unfortunate that the rest of the book can not live up to the promise that the central theme gives it. Like in many Brentford books by Rankin, he forgoes a sense of structure in favour of an almost stream of consciousness style of writing. I got the feeling that Rankin knew how the book was going to start and end, but made the middle bit up as he went along. This is a real shame as it does not compare well to his best work and the recent revival in form from The Toyminator.
This is not to say that the book is all bad. It is pretty incoherent at times, but fans of the Sprout Master will already be prepared for this and its his witterings and comedic asides that made him a popular author. There are sections of this book that are genuinely funny and have some of the most bizarre and amusing set pieces that I have read. Fans of his work will find enough in this book for it still to be worth reading, but its not going to encourage the first time reader to come back and sample another in the series, which is a real shame as the likes of Snuff Fiction and Apocalypso are amongst the funniest and well written novels that I have ever read.
If anyone has read my other reviews of Rankin they will notice the theme of too many in jokes and no coherent plot. Code introduces a new and disturbing problem into the mix that threatens to ruin later books that Rankin plans to make rudeness. Rankins books have often bordered on the fruity, using double entendres for great comedic effect; however, they have never been flat out rude. Code for the first time is obviously crude and some parts left me feeling uncomfortable. If Rankin continues to go further down this route I can see it putting me off his work.
Overall, The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code is a book for current fans of Rankin only. It follows the basic rise of the devil storyline that have influenced all the Brentford books. Fans will note that its not his best, but that there are some funny parts that still make a worth while read. However, I could not recommend this to first time readers as its too confusing and not much happens. Beside from an interesting central premise there is little to keep the reader involved and there is some rudeness that is just uncomfortable. Im hoping that Rankin decides to finally move on from the Brentford books and concentrate on stand alone titles as the quality here is falling book by book.
Author: Robert Rankin
Price: amazon uk - £8.93
play.com - £10.98
Robert Rankin, the world's Master of Far Fetched Fiction, takes us on a roller coaster ride in his brand-new bestseller, which focuses on the biggest conspiracy theory in the world, ever. Here, in the Da-Da-Di-Da-Da Code, you will find the music of the angels - and the music of the devil. Aliens, flying saucers from hell, the Multiverse, the Illuminati: every wacky, way-out conspiracy theory you've ever heard: they're all here, wrapped into a plot that will leave Dan Brown fans breathless, Michael Shea readers stupified, Raymond Khoury lovers incredulous ...Robert Rankin: the original and the best