To read Justin Robinson’s Mr Blank is like following some self-deprecating, white rabbit into a sprawling, L.A. noir wonderland on a 100-m.p.h., nerd culture-fueled rollick. Hot on the heels of Robinson’s thrilling zombie noir, Undead on Arrival, which was released just four months before, Mr Blank will keep you guessing until the very end.
The story follows a loner “go-for” embedded in all the secret societies and cults you’ve ever heard of (and many you haven’t) who greases the wheels and helps with the day-to-day functionality of communing with aliens, demons, and gods, protecting age-old relics and secrets, and generally misleading the masses. This “go-for” quickly learns that while there are many upsides to being a quintuple agent, there is one very big downside. Needless to say, everything goes pear-shaped, and our antihero struggles to stay afloat amidst a rising tide of needy Knights Templar, sullen CIA spooks, creepy clones, an angry, anorexic sisterhood, ferocious chupacabres, and countless other cryptids and conspiracists who don’t like being double crossed. Our main character, along with his fiery femme fatale, Mina, face monsters and Men in Black alike as they try and work all the angles and uncover the identity of one Mr Blank, the puppet master who set this whole crazy carnival ride in motion.
Mr Blank is a simile-laden, antihero joyride with twists and turns that will keep you on your toes. Robinson rockets along at a pace that could make the Kessel Run in ten parsecs flat (take that Han), lavishing the reader with page after page of quippy, noir-ish dialogue and so many current and classic geeky references that it becomes a game trying to pin them all down. For fans of noir, conspiracy theories, and nerdy, neurotic humor, Mr Blank might just be the book you’ve been looking for.