Crime Fiction Alphabet: R is for Ian Rankin

letter_RThis week the letter in the Crime Fiction Alphabet Community Meme is R, so of course it just had to be Ian Rankin, who is fast becoming my favourite crime writer.

I’ve previously written a bit about Ian Rankin after I went to a talk he gave in January – see here.

R is also for Rebus. There are 17 Inspector Rebus books (a a book of short stories) and I’m reading them in sequence starting with the first one Knots and Crosses. Currently I’m reading the tenth book, Dead Souls. As well as the Rebus books Rankin has written a few others, the latest being The Complaints, featuring a new cop Inspector Malcom Fox. The complete list of Rebus books is on Ian Rankin’s website and on Wikipedia. Both places give more information about the man and his books. Just as a taster the author details on the latest book I read  The Hanging Garden reveal that after graduating from the University of Edinburgh he  had been employed as

a grape picker, swine-herd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist and punk musician.

The Hanging Garden is full of characters, sub-plots and plenty of crime from the local gang leader Tommy Telford, vying for supremacy over crime boss, Big Ger Cafferty, currently imprisoned in Barlinnie but still in control of his empire through his second in command, the Weasel, to Chechian and Yakuza villains. Then there is Mr Pink-Eyes, a Newcastle gangleader to contend with. It’s a mix of prostitutes, drug running, money laundering and attacks on Cafferty’s territory and associates, with retaliations on Telford’s strongholds.

Rebus is struggling to keep off the alcohol, aided by his friend Jack Morton, when his daughter, Sammy is the victim of a hit and run. Who is trying to warn off Rebus and is he in the pay of Big Ger?  At the same time he is investigating a suspected Nazi War Criminal and helping a Bosnian prostitute, Candice who looks so like his own daughter and who pleads with him for safety. Added to all this his ex-wife Rhona and his lover Patience meet over Sammy’s hospital bed.

It’s grim and tough and as Rebus involves Jack in an undercover operation it all goes wrong – dramatic and tense right to the end.

The Sunday Salon – Today’s Books

Today I started reading the ninth Inspector Rebus book  The Hanging Garden by Ian Rankin. Rebus is investigating a suspected Nazi war criminal living in Edinburgh, and a rival gang leader to Big Ger Cafferty, Tommy Telford. Rebus has given up drinking! It’s gripping stuff.

By way of contrast I also started Poetic Lives: Shelley by Daniel Hahn. I received this book from the publishers through LibraryThings Early Reviewers programme. It’s a slim little book of biography with extracts from Shelley’s poems. This morning I read how Shelley as a shy schoolboy was bullied at Eton, where he was nicknamed ‘Mad Shelley’ and later the ‘Eton Atheist’. It’s easy reading but I’m getting irritated by Hahn’s use of the word ‘would‘ in so many sentences.

It reminded me that I still haven’t read Ann Wroe’s book Being Shelley, which I’ve had for a while now. This is not a chronological account of Shelley’s life, but is about Shelley the poet rather than Shelley the man. Ann Wroe explains:

Rather than writing the life of a man into which poetry erupts occasionally, my hope is to reconstruct the world of a poet into which earthly life keeps intruding. (page ix)

I think reading the two in tandem should be interesting.