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Recommendations from Under the Radar: Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf

It’s especially fitting that I’m bringing this book to your attention on the ninth anniversary of my first date with my boyfriend, because our love of the entire Roger Rabbit mythos is a large part of what has kept us together all these years (that, The Phantom of the Opera, Piers Anthony, and Ferris Bueller).  But let me take you back to a long time ago, almost twenty years ago, to 1988…

I was six years old, and my aunt worked for a major advertising firm.  (She still does.)  At the time, this firm had a big Disney account, which came with lots of perks for employees – promotional materials like posters, and pins.  My bedroom from ages five through twelve was decorated primarily with my aunt’s Disney promo cast-offs.  Another perk she received from the company was preview screenings.  So before the movie was released to the general public, I got to see "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

I loved it so much.  So much I can’t even explain how much.  The world was enchanting, the characters were charming, and Judge Doom was about the scariest villain ever conceived in my book (and remains so to this day).  I loved the movie so much that when it was released on video, watching it was a daily ritual, and I would recite the lines along with it.  It was in my top five favorite movies ever.  (It probably still sits there, too, only behind other 80s classics like "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" and "The Princess Bride.")

I was ecstatic a few years later, when I was old enough to appreciate much of the humor that had been lost on me in that first viewing, to discover a literary sequel to the film.  (Reading reviews now I see it is not an actual sequel to the movie or to the book upon which the movie was based, Who Censored Roger Rabbit?  But we’ll pretend it is anyway.)

Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? does all that a sequel really requires: it takes favorite characters and puts them in new and exciting situations.  The book takes us back to old Hollywood, where director David O. Selznick is auditioning three actors for the role of Rhett Butler in his musical comedy "Gone with the Wind": Clark Gable, Baby Herman, and Roger Rabbit himself.  Ever jealous, Roger suspects his buxom wife Jessica may be fooling around with Gable, and hires Eddie to find out if his suspicions are grounded in fact and what his standing is with Selznick.  There are a few conflicts of interest, though, as Selznick himself wants Eddie to find out who stole a box from his office; Roger is one of the suspects.  Clark Gable wants Eddie to ascertain the identity of the individual claiming Gable is gay in the tabloids.  To make matters worse, a toon named Kirk Enigman is murdered with Eddie’s gun.  Add in the search for Toon Tonic, which turns people into toons and toons into people, and encounters with Jessica Rabbit’s twin Joellyn, a five-inch tall vixen, enormous amounts of punnery, and you have an incredibly entertaining book.

I would recommend Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? to fans of the film, but also to fans of comic mysteries.  This is hard-boiled detective hilarity.  It holds a special place in my heart because of my love for the film and the characters, but it will entertain anyone who prizes silliness above all.

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