Sunday, September 20, 2009

the naming of the dead & exit music

It feels rather bittersweet when having to say goodbye to a book character you've followed in 10 books. I didn't realize there was that many of them, but yes, eight add two are now standing in my bookshelf. All read. By me. "The Naming of the Dead" and "Exit music", the two last books (ever) by Scottish crime novelist Ian Rankin featuring jaded, grumpy, too much whisky drinking, smoking and eating bad food but with a strong sense of what's right and what's not inspector John Rebus.

Just noticed that there are apparently 17 books written about Rebus, but only 10 translated into Swedish. How bizarre. As I picked up my first Rebus book in Swedish (Black & Blue), found it well written (translated) I've just continued reading them in Swedish and never thought there could be more, non-published books in English. I should of course known better. When the last book have been read I feel it would however just feel strange to step back in time, go back and pick up the not read ones.

One might say that Rebus is pretty much the average troubled with no private life to talk good about semi-alcoholic policeman in modern crime fiction personified. But his world of crime does have some extra perks that far from all crime novels have;

:: Set in Edinburgh, they do show the darker side of the city and lives that's usually very far from visible to the briefer (or more well off) visitor to the grand city. The books paint a rather bleak and grim picture of the Edinburgh life. On the other hand every city has the not so charming backside and it's the multilayering and history that makes most places as well as people interesting to know.

:: They are well written - which is imho so very far from the case with crime novels in general. Unfortunately. Because a well written crime novel is just an awesome way to spend reading time with! - well worked through with plots, interestingly and often tied to current political issues and tides. As well as the always and everywhere annoying office politics (including the always present people too often in charge whose only interest clearly is lining their own pocket on other people's expense).

:: The depiction of gorgeous Edinburgh and Scotland in general makes one feel very present, some streets and places very familiar, others not. The collection of characters are often very interesting, from all walks of life with a dry, quite entertaining, taking the edge of all the grimness humour weaved in.

What I personally would have liked from the books are more discernible, distinct stories. Because I find that after reading 10 of them I have to say, despite being of high quality, I wouldn't be able to tell one from the other. (The perfect example of very discernible crime novels is Swedish Arne Dahl.)

This is the end of an era. The Rebus era. I'm glad to have made your acquaintance, it has been overall very good to read you.


P.K said...

sad news, I am a huge Rebus fan, the setting of Edinburgh made it an extra special read. Ian Rankin is an excellent writer.

Pia K said...

glad you like the writing and the books, p.k, despite him being a bestseller i have to say i don't know anyone near me who reads him...

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