Cornelius Murphy and his friend Tuppe set off on an epic adventure to find the missing papers of self-proclaimed Grand Master of Everything, Hugo Artemis Solon Saturnicus Reginald Arthur Rune's book; The Book of Ultimate Truths. Starting out in Scotland, ready to buy the remaining items of an estate belonging to an old friend of Rune's, they make one too many enemies along the way, up to and including angry Scots.
Of all the authors I read, likeable and dislikeable, Robert Rankin is the only one that has taught me something in every single book. It may only be trivial matters, though can often be cultural gems, but every single book I read of his I have to hop on to Google and find out what he's talking about. His wonderful references to obscure little facts, or passing mentions of wonderful people who were alive long ago and have been forgotten by most, have been instrumental in my education of non-academic fancies.
I have yet to read every Rankin book, but thus far I have gleamed knowledge of the cornerstones of past cultures, from the academic to the (more often than not) occult. Crowley, Babbage, Tesla, Dadd: all were introduced to me via Rankin. Popular Culture also gets its foot in, from musicians to TV personalities: the kind of people that, as a young'un, have by-passed me because if it's not current, it's not popular, right?
Robert Rankin's writing is not sublime. It is often long-winded and he is very over-fond of the running gag. But he is the only writer who has ever made me laugh out loud in public (at a Cricket match, no less) and also sitting alone in my room. I cannot pick the book up again due to being unable to breath. No other writer has done that: not even Sir Terry Pratchett. He writes in the style of that secret voice we have in our mind, the one that is laughing at the person who has just tripped over, and won't stop giggling even as we help them up. It is the childlike voice that holds nothing sacred.