Thursday, January 11, 2007

Having trouble with Ian Rankin again

Can somebody help me, regarding Ian Rankin's novels? I repeatedly see blurbs for his books that describe them as "noir" or dark thrillers in any case. But I'm currently reading Resurrection Men, to see if I like Rankin's books any better than I did early on in his career--but I don't. Am I reading the wrong ones? Do I have false expectations? I've seen a bit of the 2 different BBC series about Detective John Rebus (two very different actors in the part, the most recent far the more accurate about the character), and they're OK. In fact, the novels read like a TV movie. Plenty of to and fro, but not much insight or emotional investment--I don't really care about the characters or what happens to them, nor about the investigation (I like police procedurals, when they're well done, but the Rebus books hardly seem to be about procedure--Rebus is more often relying on his "connected" informants than doing anything on his own. I originally had a hard time with Rankin because I was reading Peter Turnbull at the same time--and his Glasgow was a lot more interesting to me than Rankin's Edinburgh. Turnbull is more interested in ordinary people--Rankin is always getting involved with the top brass and the big gangsters. Turnbull's background as a social worker coming out, perhaps. But Turnbull's reputation seems to have faltered and Rankin just keeps going and going. So help me out--am I just wrong? Is there any point in my finishing Resurrection Men?


Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Turnbull is excellent. I read about 4 or 5 of his books via the public library. Because I read them at the same time, the formula was evident after a while, but that's a quibble. They are good. I haven't read any since then (maybe 5 years ago) but you are right, they don't seem well known.
Rankin/Rebus -- I like the Rebus books. Rankin's early (pre-Rebus) novels were reissued a while back and I do not like those. Amateurish, "spy/thriller" stuff. But Rebus I do like, especially the various political corruption angles. Some are better than others, but if you've read a couple and don't like them, I'd advise stopping and going elsewhere, because they are all similar enough that they are unlikely to grow on you if you haven't enjoyed a couple.

Anonymous said...

I've struggled with Rankin as well, I have to say the only one of his I enjoyed was an abridged audio version with Bill Paterson reading it, which I listened to in the car.

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of Rankin and his Rebus books, but I agree with maxine. If you tried one or two and didn't like them then you won't like the rest.