EAFOL16 Programme Manager Aedan Lake on why he’s looking forward to Ian Rankin’s return to Dubai
Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels are quite remarkable. John Rebus himself is among my favourite characters in all of literature – a complex, conflicted detective never far away from the dark, and who has deep ties to his city of Edinburgh.
Edinburgh itself also plays a significant role in these books, or rather several roles: as capital of Scotland, going through devolution and flirting with independence; as a city reinventing itself over several decades, with new wealth and gentrification smoothing some edges and merely concealing others; and of course as the setting for all the cases Rebus has to solve, from drugs and gang crime to political corruption.
The police themselves are not immune from the corrupting effect of power – a recurring theme in Rankin’s work – and this element of Rebus’s Edinburgh eventually led to the creation of Rankin’s second great detective, Malcolm Fox of the Complaints and The Complaints, whose unenviable task is to investigate other coppers. Fox was introduced as the hero of his own standalone book, but in the most recent books Rankin has pitted him against Rebus as ally, rival and foil, a pairing that has led to some of Rankin’s best writing yet. His trinity of detectives is completed by Rebus’s former protégé and current boss, DI Siobhan Clarke, a former supporting character who by the look of things will be elevated to lead in the forthcoming Even Dogs in the Wild as Rebus makes another attempt at retirement (not that that keeps his past from catching up with him).
That odd-looking book title is a clue to one final, but important, appeal of Rankin’s writing. The books are suffused with music, a central part of both Rankin’s and Rebus’s character which makes its way into the titles of most of the Rebus novels as well as providing a thematic and atmospheric backdrop to the action.
All of the above barely scratches the surface of why it’s worth reading Rankin – go on, add him to your summer reading list, as you won’t find a more gripping read – but why should you see him at Emirates LitFest 2016? Well, for one thing he’s a compelling, erudite speaker with an interest not only in crime and music, but also in literature (his major influences and inspirations include Robert Louis Stevenson and Muriel Spark), in theatre (he co-wrote the play Dark Road) and, perhaps inevitably given the content of his novels, in the philosophy of evil. His contribution to the Scottish literary scene was acknowledged earlier this year in his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s national academy of science and letters. His sessions at the LitFest are going to be entertaining for certain, but you are also likely to experience that little bit extra that comes from our very best sessions – the encounter with a true great of modern literature.
The Associates: Even Dogs in the Wild: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLA89-kgixo
Ian Rankin’s Last.fm playlist: http://www.last.fm/group/Ian+Rankin
Read more about Ian Rankin here