Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rankin Revisited

So I finished the Ian Rankin book Set in Darkness. I wasn't exactly glowing about it the first time I wrote about it, and I'm afraid I can't be much more enthusiastic about it now.

As I wrote earlier, it's all a bit formulaic - not at all what one would expect from one of Britain's bestselling authors. Of course, maybe I'm out of touch and his public like what I would consider as "formulaic", (which is fine) but with all due respect: to be blunt - I don't. Or maybe the earlier novels are better (...and maybe Rankin feels it...the next Rebus novel is scheduled to be the last)?

I suppose I'd have to read another to find out.

Rebus, again as I said earlier, doesn't seem to have much to differentiate him from amongst all the other detective-novel sleuths, nor does he have a more prominent "sidekick" in the manner of Liebermann from the eponymous Liebermann Papers (of which the novel Vienna Blood, over which I eulogized earlier, is the second installment). Not even the fact that (as the book reveals) Rebus is, like myself, a prog rock fan can save him from being basically, rather dull - I mean, outside the music critic community, how uncommon is that, really? Especially among people Rebus' age.

So just about the only thing I can say to recommend this book over any other is that, in a nice twist, the prime villain of the story is actually likeable - not the sort of culprit you usually find in Dalziel and Pascoe novels, for instance, which tend to be a haven for the sort of down-and-out- or failure/social outcast-villain about whom you wonder how they ever got close enough to anyone to bump them off in the first place. Not that I'm knocking D&P, you understand: I like those.

So, for any Rankin fans, if you read this I'd be interested to know whether it matches up to his earlier stuff. For anyone else, honestly, don't bother.

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