An evening with Ian Rankin: Music and Murder

I first met Ian Rankin in 2006 on his Chicago tour stop. I’d been a fan of his John Rebus detective series a short while, as much for the familiar Edinburgh setting as the writing.

I fell all over myself talking to Rankin, stuttering and turning red. His accent and rugged good looks made my knees shake. Literally. It was embarrassing as hell. By that point I’d interviewed a U.S. Poet Laureate and string of high profile writers, but you’d never have known from my (total lack of) mad interpersonal skills. I managed to blurt out a request for him to inscribe, “You complete me” on the title page. He smiled and complied, possibly assuming English wasn’t my first language. Or that my handler was hanging back watching, waiting to change my drool bib and take me home.

Little did I realize dude gets that ALL the time. I should have known.  You mean I’m not the only woman easily swayed by a Scot? I dinnae ken!


Photo credit: The Irish Times


Discussing his fan base with him years later, he said he’s been asked to sign women’s necks, cleavage and hotel room keys. Also an arm, for a woman who planned to have it permanently inked. The only rule is no inappropriate touch. And no, I don’t know that from personal experience.


Although …

Ian Rankin values his fans; he won’t abide hearing them referred to as “stalkers”. No matter they follow him to his favorite pub in Edinburgh, using the address to

Pardon the low resolution.

send mail directed to him. He’s fine with that, and I don’t blame him. You want to send me gifts? It can be arranged.

But I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he opens them. I can only imagine.

Since our first meeting I’ve interviewed him briefly by email on behalf of the library I worked for, sent him a t-shirt he took a picture of himself wearing (though it was too small and he had to shoehorn himself into it), a goofy beer glass, and a Moleskine notebook and pen he promised he’d make use of for his next book. We’ve been in regular Twitter contact ever since.

He’s a genuinely good soul.


Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh. Ian Rankin event 16 October 2018.


This past Tuesday evening I had tickets for an event with Ian Rankin “and guests”:  a police pathologist and Rankin’s “Dad band,” Best Picture. Held at Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, it was well attended, if not packed. Frequent local events celebrating the release of his latest In a House of Lies have spread the wealth as far as the crowds go. And thank goodness for that. It was hotter than hell from the body heat. The crush of the signing line gave me anxious moments.

It was standard interview fare: the 31-year history of the Rebus series, recurring characters and how they’ve grown and progressed, a few continuity gaffes he’s committed, stories of his early days and how he came to be a crime writer. There’d be nothing new to anyone who’s heard him speak before. He was witty and charming, natch, poking fun at himself in his genuinely down to earth way.


Interior, Queen’s Hall.

Contributions from the police pathologist presented real crime in Edinburgh, unsurprisingly nowhere near Rankin’s fictional body count. Whereas Ian admitted he’s rubbish at figuring out crimes, the pathologist said he’s generally able to tell cause of death from newspaper articles and pictures. I suppose that’s the difference between the real and fictional worlds.

The real treat, though, was the performance of Rankin’s band. Of all the author events I’ve attended, this was the most singular. And though I took video of two songs, I don’t have the copyright to embed them. Instead, here’s his record label’s official video of their first single, “Isabelle”:

A truly great evening, crowd anxiety aside. One of these days I’ll catch him down at the Oxford Bar, where I can buy him a pint while I stutter and fall all over myself all over again.


Writing: Deconstruction is the sincerest form of learning



I’ve had this argument with a friend unfamiliar with the writing process, yet interested in writing, himself: It’s not plagiairism to use another writer’s framework. Plagiarism is lifting someone else’s work verbatim, plonking it down in your own piece without attribution, pretending it’s your own. It’s not only illegal, but a moral wrong.

What’s perfectly legitimate is deconstruction, taking a well-written novel, say one in the hardboiled genre for argument’s sake, pulling it apart and examining how a writer accomplished what he did. It’s perfectly legitimate making use of what you’ve learned about structure, character development, pacing, etc., in order to create your own book.


Simple Deconstruction

  1. Read a book you admire at least twice. More, if you can.

  2.  Outline the plot.

  3.  Write biographies of the characters.

  4.  Study the pacing. Note when it speeds, when it slows.

  5.  Really pay attention to the dialogue. How much of the plot relies on what the characters say to each other?

  6.  What is the POV? Why does it work in this book?

  7.  Highlight favorite sentences and handwrite them. Think about what drew you to them, what are their common denominators.

  8. Once you’ve deconstructed this and everything you’re interested in, read the book again.

  9.  Write about what you’ve learned.

  10.  Consider what would work in your own work in progress.

  11.  Use it.


There is no need to re-invent the wheel; it’s been around since the beginning. In fact, this is how writing is taught. What’s the advice most given to novice writers?

Read, read, read. Read a lot, and widely.

Why do you think established writers say that? Because it’s only by reading that you’ll absorb good writing. Once absorbed, the advice is write, write, write without ceasing.

Take Ian Rankin’s Rebus series, for instance. He’s 30 years into it as of this year, his characters iconic. If this is a genre you’re interested in writing, I recommend ripping his books apart, studying them, and making use of his formula.

Again, this is not plagiarism; it’s using an established framework.


Ian Rankin: worthy role model.


So, how does Rankin do what he does?

Early novels in a series establish the main characters, protagonists as well as antagonists. Foils to the main character are often brought back at intervals, woven in and out with regularity, though not in every installment. Think about Sherlock Holmes. He’s a sort of early hardboiled detective whose nemesis, Moriarty, drives him mad. Always just out of reach, the nemesis is fairly untouchable. It would be a bold move killing him off, though not unusual to make it appear he’s been killed off, resurrecting him later on.

Subsequent novels in the series touch on some of the background for the benefit of new readers, but they have to tread a certain line so as not to bore dedicated readers, who already know the early history. A veteran like Rankin, more than a dozen books in, may not need to worry so much about back story. Readers who’ve followed his hero from the beginning will know it, and those new to his books can decide to go back and read his earlier stuff for context.

A veteran like Rankin, more than a dozen books in, may not need to worry so much about back story.


After a certain point, you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want.

Hardboiled detective novels don’t vary much as far as portraying the main character: he is unlucky in love – usually divorced or soon to become so; he  battles vices like drinking and smoking and is often not  in the best of health, isn’t necessarily a hermit but does spend lots of time shunning company, battles depression, and is somewhat of a rogue – going off on his/her own, getting into trouble flouting the rules. It’s not uncommon for him to have co-workers as invested in his downfall as his nemesis. Ultimately, he solves the case on his own, facing down the villain in solo combat. And the revelation of the baddie often comes quite late in the book, the story twisting back and forth on itself to throw the reader off the track.

The flip-side of this is the thriller – you know who’s done the deed(s), but it’s a matter of catching him. There are variations in both genres, but this sums up their main constituent parts, methinks.


It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway



Detective series fiction is a popular genre, and can make you boatloads of cash if you’re good at it. Ian Rankin’s damn good at it, a perfect role model. He can turn out a Rebus novel in a mere few months; it would take the rest of us years. How does he do it so well and so quickly?

He knows the formula, and practices it over and over. This is not a bad thing. Rather, it’s what draws lovers of the genre looking for another book like the others in the series, adding aspects like new characters and developing established characters as real humans are wont to do. Rebus ages, lovers come and go. Already retired at least once, fans like myself badgered poor Rankin to bring him back.

John Rebus is beloved.

The same basic idea can be applied to other genre writing. Even literary fiction can be analyzed for form, though it’s not quite as easy. Basic aspects of good writing can be learned, and the best, easiest and fastest way is studying the work of writers you admire.

I’d like to take apart a novel for illustrative purposes and show you exactly what I mean. My reading and reviewing plate’s pretty full at the moment, but this is something I can do in the background while I’m working on other stuff. Once I’ve finished, it may make for a good, short series of posts.

I’ve cogitated on this quite some time. When I read a near-perfect novel, I think to myself “how on earth did he do this…?” The best way to figure it out is dividing a work into its component pieces, outlining then delving deeper into the construction of characters, and all its other elements. With extremely complex works, it could take ages.


Man Booker agrees – the book is a master work.


One example is Julian Barnes’s The Sense of An Ending. I’ve read that novel twice; it’s a rare jewel. Relatively short, deconstructing it would still take a good bit of time. Its intricacies are delicately laced. I’ve wanted to examine it since its publication, the year it won the Man Booker.

All writers model themselves, consciously or not, on the works of others. All books  contain the sum total of their author’s experiences and everything they’ve read. There’s absolutely no reason you cannot model your own writing on that of another author.

Again, just do not plagiarise. Study, but never, ever steal. You’ll be found out, plus it’s just, plain wrong.

But do study. Do analyze. And never, ever stop writing your own stuff.


Reading Projects 2018: Muriel Spark read-along


I love projects. Adore them. Camaraderie with fellow book bloggers is something I’ve sorely missed; I’ve been away from it too long.

Ladies and gentlemen: Bluestalking is picking up the organizational pace! That blur you just saw out of the corner of your eye? That was me: woman on a mission.

Hold onto your bonnet, Lucille. It’s going to get theme-y around here.


My 2018 mission: to kick reading’s arse.

The lovely heavenali is hosting a Muriel Spark read-along to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Scottish writer’s birth. When I was in Scotland I’d hoped to do more investigating about Sparkish sites, read her books, and soak in the atmosphere of her native city while thinking very hard indeed about one of the greatest contemporary Scottish writers to breathe upon this earth.

SPOILER: That didn’t happen exactly as planned.

The Scot did pick up a copy of the film adapation of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for me, which was quite nice of him. I also bought a few of her books. Aaaand, that’s about it.

As a next best thing to studying her there, I’m going to cram as much writing by and about Muriel Spark into my noggin as I can in 2018. I shall celebrate her centenary vicariously, whilst back in the UK they go at it properly, with great gusto.

(Reading and holding Spark-inspired events, I mean. What did you think?!)


Not even close to all the books she wrote.


I’ve read two of her books, as far as I can remember: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Girls of Slender Means. Jean Brodie I read ages ago, in the autumn, the season that suits reading a book set in a girls’ school. I recall precious little about it, even having seen the film just a few months ago. Maggie Smith plays the character of Miss Jean Brodie. Does that count?



Ditto The Girls. I read it. I liked it. I think parts of it were funny.

This would be why I need to revisit Muriel Spark.

I learned somewhere or other – possibly by stalking him – that Ian Rankin is a huge fan of Muriel Spark. Before he left university to embark on his own writing career, he studied her work for a thesis or some equivalent project. Since I’m shameless and have a huge crush on Rankin, I took advantage and engaged him on Twitter:


And why not strike while the iron’s hot? DON’T JUDGE ME.


Heavenali has done the heavy lifting. She’s scheduled out a whole year’s worth of Muriel Spark reading with the intention participants can pick and choose what to read and when.

It’s like a big ol’ cocktail party: swing by, grab a drink and a canape, come as you are and leave when you please.

I know a few of the books I intend to read – the two which were Booker shortlisted, for sure – but I’ll wing the rest. For the first leg, I’ve ordered all three novels:

Phase 1 (January/February) Early novels – 1950s

• The Comforters (1957)
• Robinson (1958)
• Memento Mori (1959)

That doesn’t mean I’ll read all the books from all the sections, just that I happened upon an omnibus edition containing two out of three, and said what the hell. Why not?

The books are short. Here’s hoping I can manage to get through them in the two months allotted, while keeping up with everything else on my reading plate.

No pressure. I’ll read what I need to, followed by everything else I’m able. But Muriel Spark is at the tippy top. So looking forward to this.

Check out loads of events, and all sorts of Sparkish delights, at the Muriel Spark 100 website.


even dogs in the wild by ian rankin

Rebus is back…

HIs archenemy “Big Ger” Cafferty’s life has been threatened by a mysterious gunman who’s shot through his front window and it’s up to Siobhan Clarke, Malcolm Fox and John Rebus to save him before the killer strikes. Because next time, he may not miss.





  • Series: Inspector Rebus Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (January 19, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316342513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316342513

Think what you like, I believe we fans brought John Rebus back.

Returning from over a year’s hiatus following the loss of dear friend Iain Banks to cancer, Rankin was, as is his way, actively engaging his fan base on Twitter, chatting openly about his intention to write another novel. As is my way, I and several dozen other fans were by no means subtle in our attempts to persuade him to bring back John Rebus.

As soon as I could engage him one on one, I asked Ian Rankin outright what he was planning to do. Would his next book be in The Complaints series, or would he listen to great popular outcry and bring Rebus back from retirement? Then he said those magic words…

Rebus was coming back.

Rankin, too, is a master of the long game. His first Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses, was published nearly three decades ago, in 1987. What has kept him writing the series? “I’m interested in themes and questions, and the crime novel is an attempt to look at big moral themes, I suppose. Why do we keep doing bad things to each other? Getting beneath the psyche of Edinburgh, trying to dig a little bit further below the surface of the city, and using that as a microcosm for Scotland as a whole.”

“And then the character of Rebus himself. He’s a very complex man with a lot of problems. He keeps surprising me, like Edinburgh keeps surprising me.”

But that’s not my only connection to Even Dogs in the Wild. I gifted Ian Rankin a Moleskine notebook, shipped to his home away from home, the Oxford Bar in Edinburgh. He thanked me on Twitter, letting me know he’d started outlining Even Dogs in the Night in the gift I’d given him.  Doesn’t get better than that for a freelance reviewer from Chicago.

For so many reasons, not least the joy of knowing Rankin’s semi-retirement was over – more importantly, his broken spirits buoyed – I awaited this one with great anticipation. Keen to get my hands on it, I pre-ordered a copy from as soon as it had a listing. Then I heard from his U.S. agent. A review copy was on its way from them, as well. Even Dogs in the Wild is quite special to me.

I’m doubly proud Ian Rankin came back, then totally hit it out of the park with this book. It’s so tight, so well-plotted and one of his absolute best books. Retired for two books, John Rebus has grown older, softer and unused to the grueling life of a police detective. Then comes the call he’s not completely displeased to receive: someone’s taken a shot at “Big Ger” Cafferty and no one knows the career criminal better than John Rebus.

Will he come back to lend his help to the case?

“Congratulations on your retirement,” Cafferty drawled. “You didn’t think to invite me to the party. Hang on, though – I hear there was no party. Not enough friends left to even fill the back room at the Ox? He made a show of shaking his head in sympathy.

“The bullet didn’t hit you then?” Rebus retorted. “More’s the pity.”


Of course he will. It’s Cafferty. That big bastard Cafferty. Now that Rebus is a civilian, it changes the dynamic. Though still not fond of each other, putting it mildly, Rebus is no longer a cop. He has a bit more latitude but Cafferty still has no reason to trust him. But he does need him and he knows it.

At the same time, the dynamic’s changed by the relationship between John Rebus and Malcolm Fox, the older man juxtaposed with the next generation of detective. Not just professionally but underlying it all Fox is engaged in a not quite relationship/not quite not with the older detective’s former lover, Siobhan Clarke. It lends an interesting element, one left soft focused in the background. How will Fox fare and will he succeed in filling his predecessor’s shoes? And will he put his own mark on the job. He’s also faced with a lot, personally. His father is dying, and though he realizes the finality he also does not want to let down the investigation. He’s in a time of extreme turbulence, a time of letting go and of proving himself.

It’s these interpersonal relationships that add such an emotional quality to this book. For long-time readers, the book’s a huge treat. For those who may be less seasoned Rebus fans, it features a plot twisted and complex enough to keep the tension taut. For all appearances, Cafferty’s past is catching up with him. But is that all that’s at play?

Of course not. There’s much more. A gang of Glasgow toughs are engaged in a dark battle and Cafferty’s not the only victim of violence. He just happens to be the one who survived. A former lord advocate has died violently, as has a man who’d just won the lottery. So, what’s the connection? Who’s behind this and why?


It’s a puzzle John Rebus is especially qualified to tackle. His many years’ worth of experience with all elements of this case making him invaluable to the team. We know he’ll get to the bottom of it, we just don’t know how.

I admit I’m prejudiced toward loving whatever Ian Rankin writes. Still, I defy anyone to say this is not one of his better books. It’s a testament to his mastery of his craft and ability to rise above great personal turmoil to not just come back but do so strongly. Even Dogs in the Wild says he may have been through a lot but he’s no worse for the wear. In fact, he’s stronger than ever.

Now, my lingering question is… where will he take Rebus from here? It remains to be seen but his fans are no doubt very well pleased to have had the opportunity to take this journey with him again. One day Rebus won’t be back and that fact must be faced. But, for now, Ian Rankin’s given us one hell of a gift.

Maybe if I send him another Moleskine he’ll consider giving old Rebus one more go, eh?  I’m certainly not above trying.








’round edinburgh in nine days: preface

Edinburgh: City of Eternal Rain

Edinburgh: City of Eternal Rain

“Adventure should be part of everyone’s life. It is the whole difference between being fully alive and just existing.” ― Holly Morris


If my Grand, Impulsive Excursion to Bonnie Scotland were a book, it could best be described as pitch perfect, the work of a writer at the height of her powers and, that perennial favorite of mine, readable.

It was a solitary endeavor, a lone wolf journey abroad made by a newly-single woman with an abiding love of a good, cold stout served up at a dusty, dimly lit pub and a post-divorce chip on her shoulder the size of, well, a really big chip. And yes, it was a little scary going it alone, thanks for asking, though not so much as it could have been had I not just last year flown to Ireland on my own. My 2014 trip proved I can rely on myself, plan and execute a solo vacation and not at all blend in with the locals because who am I kidding, I scream American from five miles away even in English-speaking nations.

I’m a strong woman who can handle herself, a perfect candidate for solo travel. I also enjoy my own company more than that of most others. Disagreements with myself are few, seldom resulting in violence. At only one point in the trip did I become so aggravated I stopped speaking to me, a brief period which flared and subsided as quickly as it came. I bought myself a drink, we laughed, it was soon forgotten.

Ah, the memories!

Edinburgh isn’t just awesome and beautiful, full of history and bagpipes and beer and whisky and beer but also a mecca for all things arts and literary. A  safe city for a woman alone, during my nine days there not a single murder was committed: not in Edinburgh, in Scotland or the entire UK. Meanwhile, back here in the USA not only were there violent killings in the Chicago suburbs but my very own street was staked out by a SWAT team, shite you not. So, for those considering a trip abroad but concerned with personal safety, shut up and go, for fuck’s sake. Quite whining. You’re more likely to be harmed here than there.

God bless the NRA!

In fact, the closest approximation to a traumatic situation I encountered was a man urinating proudly and profusely through a wrought-iron fence near the Sir Walter Scott monument. Despite his vigorously healthy stream, at no point did I feel endangered. In fact I envied the man, as I do all of his gender, his possession of equipment enabling urination while standing up, in a set direction no less, a feat nary a female could accomplish without impaling herself and making a huge mess. And if that’s the worst that happened to me I count myself lucky.

Ostensibly, my official “reason” for flying over was to attend the Edinburgh International Literary Festival, that most deservedly lauded celebration of books and authors and books and authors, coupled with a deep love for Scotland I’ve enjoyed more than half my life. Abroad on a student ambassador program at the tender age of 18, I proclaimed to no one in particular, “This is where I will spend the rest of my life!” Then promptly didn’t, because hey that’s how 18-year olds are, dramatic and pretty well powerless.

Not that I didn’t give it a noodle. I entered college with every intention of studying abroad a semester at Edinburgh University and would have, too, had my then boyfriend (now ex-husband, IRONY) not popped a diamond on my finger as a sort of insurance policy I would not dump him and hook up with a man in a kilt. And how’d that work out for me. Believe me, not a year goes by I don’t regret that.

Worse, to this day I still do not know for certain what Scottish men wear underneath their kilts. Suspicions, yes. Verifiable proof, no, despite having visited during a particularly windy week. Hopes dashed, I default to a firm belief it gets pretty windy under there.

Och, lad, tell me true!

Och, lad, tell me true!

Sadly, many literary festival events were sold out before I arrived. Things had been going on full-swing a couple of weeks before I showed up and though I bought tickets online before I left pickings were quickly growing slim. Let this be a lesson for anyone planning to act on impulse. Always pre-plan your unexpected adventures.


Ian Rankin interviews Stuart David

Ian Rankin interviews Stuart David

I wound up attending only two events: a Michael Frayn talk about his new compilation of tiny plays, Matchbox Theatre, and an Ian Rankin discussion with singer-songwriter Stuart David – of Belle and Sebastian – upon publication of his new biography, In the All-Night Café: A Memoir of Belle and Sebastian’s Formative Years. Though I had tickets to see Denise Mina, I’d exhausted myself walking around that day and couldn’t bear the thought of dragging arse back to Charlotte Square. Instead, I stayed in my hotel room watching really bad British TV and eating takeaway fish and chips, followed in short order by horrendous indigestion and a bad case of insomnia by saturated fat.

All in all the trip was, technically speaking, amazeballs.  Ireland and Wales last year, Scotland this… Which was the better trip? The trip would have to go to 2014, since my daughter was with me and if she reads this she’ll be really pissed off if I don’t say that. However, which city is better? God  I‘m sorry Dublin but it’s Edinburgh. Purely Edinburgh. Just remember I love you, too.

So I have loads of pictures to share, as well as a strong possibility of anecdotal bloviating. I’ve prefaced my adventure here and will continue telling my story in subsequent posts. Hope you’ll tune in.

Reading Ian Rankin

 Ian Rankin – The Complaintscomplaintsrankin

I love Ian Rankin’s novels about hard-boiled detectives. His work is well-written and addictive. These are page-turners with main characters you love more as they change and evolve throughout the series. They’re smart and fast-paced and I’m glad his older series is so huge or I’d die a little waiting for his next novel, which is scheduled for God knows when. I’d ask, but I’m pretty sure God ain’t talkin’ anymore. Haven’t seen a burning bush in ages.


Right now Rankin’s on pause, on a year-long-and-counting period of not writing, following the tragic and premature death of his great friend, Scottish novelist Iain Banks (Iain M. Banks, for his science fiction titles) from cancer, at the age of 59


The death hit him hard, a sharp slap to the face. We all come up against that sometime but usually our grief and ripped to shreds insides aren’t as public. Imagine grieving deeply while the world’s watching, your fan base stifling you via good intentions.


Or perhaps not always, perhaps impatience as well:   “When are you going to get over this and start writing again?!” .. Assholes are inevitable


I follow him on Twitter, where he’s very active – and interactive – very funny and, alternately, very serious. Imagine that, a complex writer. Huh. The other day I asked him which series he’ll come back to once he starts writing again. His response:




It’s just past the one year point of Banks’s death (June 9). If I’d paid attention and known that, I wouldn’t have asked that question at this time. Usually I’m more jokey and upbeat. Goofy and stupid, the usual me. The minute I decide to ask a semi-real question I’m foot in mouth.


Been doing a lot of that lately. The more I try to explain, the worse I sound. The more honest, the more I alienate. The more I alienate, the more desolate am I.




But anyway, I’m trying to catch up with his Malcolm Fox series before he publishes another novel, though it could just as well be a Rebus as a Fox. Considering I haven’t read any of his new series – though I’m still not caught up with Rebus, admittedly – I may as well work on finishing off Fox, as it’s only three books.


As is de rigeur for the hard-boiled detective, his protagonists are divorced, have had serious drinking problems they continue to fight and are crusty on the outside with a soft, chewy nougat middle. All are womanizers of a sort. They look more than they touch but they do occasionally pick one to have a few not too explicit tumbles And they’re not completely over their exes just yet, a romantic twist that keeps them from settling down and being happy with pretty much anyone. Which is good, we don’t want that to happen.Nothing shuts down interest like a hero who overcomes depression to become monogamous.




The appeal to women is obvious: the troubled man, grizzled and lined but still roughly handsome, hurt and in need of solace – though he wouldn’t admit that. Let me mother you! Hold you close to my breast and… Hey, what’s that you’re doing? Oh, well. Okay. That works, too.


I wonder if the appeal to men is imagining themselves as Malcolm Fox or Inspector Rebus? You know, I never thought of that before. The short path to getting laid is turning into a jaded detective! BRILLIANT! I’ll just rumple up my shirt a bit, untuck it and add a tie – askew, so a woman can reach up and right it (yessss!!!). I’ll wad up my suit, dirty my shoes and leave off shaving a couple days. Use a few drops of Scotch for cologne. And don’t forget, ladies, danger is my middle name…




Both genders appreciate the pacing, smart and complex plots. As for violence, it’s there but nowhere near the grisly crap on TV. If you’re like me and a bit squeamish, skim a paragraph or two ’til you’re past the worst. He’s not a writer to describe in macabre detail or I wouldn’t read him. In the Malcolm Fox series, Fox is in police internal affairs, referred to as “the Complaints.” In other words, when cops go bad he comes in. So he’s not well-liked and must tread lightly, lest his presence set off alarm bells within the force. He can’t come into the cafeteria and plop down next to just anyone, in other words. Not without them suddenly finding they’ve forgotten a meeting and must leave right away. It’s not easy being Malcolm Fox. But it’s damn easy reading him at break-neck speed. Slooow, girlie. Slow.


Scotland’s Favorite Author


Rankin’s newest distinction, brand new actually, came just last week: ..

The veteran crime writer came above the likes of Robert Burns in a survey of thousands of readers across Britain to mark the final week for entries to the National Young Writers’ Award. The creator of Inspector Rebus said he was taken aback at the recognition, describing himself as “thrilled” at the accolade, which was a “complete surprise”, and he encouraged young writers looking to follow in his footsteps to enter the competition. The results of the survey also revealed a love among Scots for the late Iain Banks, who came fourth in the poll. The rest of the top five was dominated by seminal figures from Scotland’s literary history, with Robert Louis Stevenson coming second, followed by Arthur Conan Doyle. Robert Burns was in fifth position.

– The Scotsman
















Photo: Lisa Ferguson


Congratulations, Ian Rankin. Keep hanging in there. We’ll wait.