Author Reviews from Mia every Wednesday
For me, one of the joys of reading is going to another place without leaving my chair and I find that Ian Rankin is excellent at transporting you to the heart of Edinburgh, a surprisingly gritty and dangerous Edinburgh at that. If you have romantic ideas about the city – which I did, based on a visit to the Festival a while ago – they’ll soon be dispelled.
Rankin has an impressive list of stories to his name but, undoubtedly his master creation is Inspector Rebus – irascible, cynical, totally obsessed by the job and, consequently difficult to live with. But he is consistent in his appreciation of his beautiful, mysterious and haunted city. The depiction of this small city with its seriously gloomy history and its almost village-like approach to life, where it is easy to know everyone else’s business, makes his stories very believable.
The characterisation is strong and very early in any one of the novels, you have a clear idea of Rebus if not of his physical appearance. It was, consequently, interesting to see him played in the television adaptation, named simply ‘Rebus,’ by the gentle and sensitive John Hannah. It was a masterly performance but for me, the definitive Rebus was Ken Stott. I understand a new series is underway.
To get you going, try ‘Knots and Crosses’, his first Rebus novel. There are another seventeen or eighteen to follow.
Two girls have been kidnapped and found murdered. At the opening of the novel a third has gone missing and it doesn’t take much to assume she has met the same end and that they have a serial killer at large. John Rebus, only a Detective Sergeant at this stage but already with his personal life in disarray, is onto the case. This is police procedure, Rebus-style, and full of suspense.
And, for a complete departure from Rebus, try ‘The Complaints.’