by Robert Erringer
Enigma Books 1998
Picture yourself the head of the CIA. What do you get when the only secret agent at your disposal has a severe case of Tourette’s syndrome and he’s the only one who can stop an evil Kurdish terrorist from continuing a killing spree that spans two continents?
I’ll tell you what I’d do, I’d complain to the author and ask him to write me a better part! Which is exactly the kind of thing that happens all though this bizarre, hilarious spoof of terrorists, secret agents, competing government agencies and supermarket tabloids. That’s basically it. Well, OK, the plot is this: there’s a bloodthirsty Kurdish terrorist group, working out of Switzerland, which has duped Henry Kissinger into laundering their money. The FBI and CIA pit their best agents against the terrorists and each in order to head off further bloodshed. We’ve already seen a Washington, D.C. restaurant ripped to shreds from machine gun fire, a school bus full of children sent over a cliff and other grisly acts committed upon innocents, it has to stop! Our hero, super agent Jeff Dalkin, the spitting image of Bruce Willis, has Tourette’s syndrome and can’t stop telling people to do indecent things to themselves. However, having strange personal, visible problems is a great cover; no one would ever suspect that such a freak is a secret agent. Besides, everyone thinks he’s Bruce Willis!
That’s all I’ll give away. The book is a swift read and is written in good cinematic form, so it’s wildly entertaining. The author (who I think isn’t who he says he is) deals with a number of style issues currently in vogue with impressive skill. Sex in novels, unless they’re supposed to be “erotic,” tends to take away form the story. Sex scenes in R-rated adventure films only add to the time one has to sit in the theater; besides, a good secret agent wouldn’t leave himself in such a vulnerable position when there’s an enemy shooting at him. Now, in Crinkum Crankum, the sex happens in a moving car, with the hero driving during a high-speed pursuit on a Swiss highway, so the story doesn’t suffer at all! Likewise, the extreme violence is almost a parody of graphic gore. People aren’t simply shot, their heads come off, spilling brains on passers-by. The author also tortures his characters, much like Kurt Vonnegut does in Breakfast of Champions. He argues with them and makes their bladders fail. He forces an FBI chief to engage sexually with his 300-pound, extremely ugly secretary in retaliation for speaking up and demanding a sex scene be written in. Crinkum Crankum is a hoot and a half! I strongly recommend it to those of you who read books. Enigma Books, 11141 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20902