First in what became a very popular series by Harry Harrison, the Stainless Steel Rat introduces us to a future where crime has been all but stamped out in the civilized universe, and the intergalactic criminals who managed to survive the genetic screenings meant to root out such behavior. When we first meet the protagonist, James Bolivar “Slippery Jim” DiGriz is in the middle of a robbery that’s delivered in such a snappy witty style you can’t help but plunge further into the story, as you join this rogue turned intergalactic detective on a ruckus journey across the stars and the philosophical questions it raises along the way. Focused on the personalities and their motivations that drive the story, the futuristic setting takes more of a backseat, enriching the narrative rather than overshadowing it with just how technological advanced this society actually is. Instead the reader is treated to a lively sci-fi novel choke full of psychological insight in an otherwise classic “it takes a thief to catch a thief” story best described as a James Bond comedy.
Not only is this a great read, it’s also a short one, and certainly worth picking up.