First entry in this eleven book series. A number of short stories were published along the way. The final entry was “The Stainless Steel Rat Returns” (2010). The series is fun, suspenseful and clever The humor never gets slapstick or insulting.
In the old days rats ran behind the wooden wainscoting. Now it’s made of stainless steel. James Bolivar diGriz aka/Slippery Jim. Jim considers himself like the rats of old except he refers to himself as the stainless steel rat. It’s not a super secret disguise it’s just how he feels about things in a virtually crime free society.
Jim’s latest caper is all over. He was stealing canned goods from a government warehouse and relabeling them for sale to wholesalers. He has an escape plan all worked out. He gets to another planet and drops his old disguise. He’s never tried armed robbery so he tries for an armored car outside a bank.
He had a well though out plan but ended up being captured by the Special Corps. He’s shocked to see who the boss is and ends up recruited. The good guy is now sent out to catch the bad guys. In a file room at the Corps training school he comes across a blueprint. Someone is building a battleship. There hasn’t been one of those in the galaxy for a thousand years. He’s assigned to look into it.
Jim disguises himself as an admiral in the space navy. He finds out where the ship is being built. Too late. It’s gone. He gets a crew and a ship and takes off after it. Whoever controls it is on a tear as a space pirate and that includes murder. Being the clever man that he is Jim catches up with the battleship. He’s now disguised as a billionaire and the bait worked. The thieves are Pepe Nero and Angelina. Jim finds out that Angelina is the brains behind it all. She escapes and Pepe is taken into custody.
He wants to track down Angelina. She tricked a navy ship into taking her on board and she killed all twelve crew members. Jim wants to go after her. He’s told his part of the case is over. He resigns from the Corps and steals a ship to track her down.
He goes to a planet that is run by a weak monarchy. In a bar posing as a hooker…Angelina. They go back to her room. Jim’s not so smart after all. She pulls a gun and blasts away.
Of course it doesn’t end there and Jim gets involved in a revolution. It’s a great ending and you’ll want to follow more in the series. Harrison didn’t write the second one, “The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge” until 1970.