I’ve mentioned Ian Rankin in passing before, but I’ve never reviewed any of his books because I read them all in my pre-blogging days. Let me tell you a little about my experiences with Rankin:
At 25, after putting myself through undergrad and then grad school, I was totally burnt out. I had completed my thesis which, though I was and am quite proud of, was an exhausting process. When I graduated, I wanted no more to do with reading or theory or feminist theory or academic writing. And then someone put an Inspector Rebus novel in my hands. To be honest, I cannot remember if it was given to me or if I picked it up. But, it was a match made in heaven. Over the course of that summer, I read every single Rebus novel out there and was thirsting for more. In fact, I might have haunted Rankin’s website for a while trying to figure out when the last Rebus book would be released.
Who is Rebus? Rebus is a troubled detective. He leaves the SAS after a nervous breakdown and serves as a detective for Lothian & Borders station. Pitted against Edinburgh’s underbelly, what he calls “a crime scene waiting to happen,” Rebus tests the boundaries of right and wrong, often having to use less-than-ethical methods to get to the bottom of a case. He’s ruthless in his desire for truth and justice, especially when a case involves Big “Ger” Cafferty, a crime leader Rebus can never seem to get the better of. Rebus retires in Exit Music, and I have to say, I was devastated. I had grown to love Rebus and his partner Siobhan and loved inhabiting their world for a little while.
So when Rankin began writing other books, I hopped on the bandwagon with trepidation, but so far his standalones have been engaging. This month his new book The Complaints is out.
As Rankin said tonight, Malcolm Fox, his new protagonist is just about as opposite Rebus as possible. Fox is by the book, working in the American equivalent of Internal Affairs. He’s the type that might investigate Rebus. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m excited. Rankin is already working on a sequel and read a bit from it tonight. Good stuff.
What excited me even more? One of the questions from the audience asked if Rankin missed Rebus (there were some die-hard Rebus fans like me out there). Rankin responded that he doesn’t really miss him because he didn’t kill him off and senses “[Rebus and Siobhan] have not left the building.” He kept Rebus in real time, so Rebus had to retire when he reached a certain age. He told a funny story that someone went to Parliament requesting the retirement age change so Rankin could keep Rebus around. There’s another regulation, though, stating Rebus could come back in a review capacity, looking through cold case files, which to be honest, sounds right up his alley.
All in all, it was a great evening. Rankin, beer in hand, talked about a little of everything and was patient and talkative during the signing. I told him the above story about my reading everything after completing my thesis. He told me he was actually supposed to be writing a thesis on Muriel Spark when he wrote the first Rebus novel and said she probably would have encouraged him to stick with the fiction anyway. The entire ride home I listened to Depeche Mode and thought maybe, just maybe, I’ve got a story that hasn’t left the building yet…
jenn aka the picky girl
P.S. I am a total anxious freak around new people – especially favorite authors of favorite series, so I chickened out on the whole me and Ian Rankin pic. I know, I know. Dork.
P.P.S. If you live in or around Houston, make sure you check out the Murder by the Books website for signing info. Jacqueline Winspear will be there Wednesday, but I can’t justify another trek, particularly as I am hoping to head back over Saturday to watch Jane Eyre.
P.P.P.S. I grabbed a Rebus novel The Black Book and had it signed for one of you lovely readers. Read the instructions below and enter. I just had to share Rebus with the world. 😉