Orion Books, p/b, 496pp, £7.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
A rip-roaring steampunk escapade in Rankin’s truly inimitable style, The Educated Ape continues the adventures of the famed detective Cameron Bell (who has an uncanny resemblance to Charles Dickens’ Mr Pickwick) and his talking monkey companion Darwin, the titular educated ape (also known as Humphrey Bananas).
Packed full of action, puns and the usual irreverence that readers of Rankin’s works have come to expect and love, this is yet another cracking read from the master of steampunk surreality.
It is the year 1899, and the reigning monarch of England, Queen Victoria is also the Empress of Mars as well as India, following the destruction of the entire Martian race by the British following a failed invasion of Earth. Lord Brentford dreams of building a Grand Exposition to unite the people of Earth, Jupiter and Venus, while the witch Lavinia Dharrkstorrm plots to bring about the End of Days as the new century dawns.
Rankin is an institution in modern British literature, and his new works are eagerly awaited by many. This latest, the third and penultimate in his epic “meta-Victorian”, series does not disappoint.