Sunday, September 14, 2008

On The Nightstand

by Ian Rankin

I've been buried under work for the last few weeks, but I've still found some time to do a fair amount of reading. Having been on a bit of a mystery kick lately, I decided to read the first few John Rebus mysteries by Scottish author Ian Rankin.

My parents are both voracious mystery readers and love the Rankin books. Come to think of it, I suspect I've bought them a few as presents over the years.

The best part of having readers for parents is that they'll often loan you the books you gave them after they've finished with them, which is how I came to read some of the later books in the Rebus series. But I've never read the first one, KNOTS & CROSSES.

Rankin's mysteries are always interesting and complex, driven more by the characters than the twists and turns of the plot. And I've always enjoyed the descriptions of Rebus' crumbling home turf, Edinburgh. But while KNOTS & CROSSES has plenty of atmosphere, Rankin is obviously just starting to master his craft.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good book, with a lot of great characterization and atmosphere, but it doesn't have the same polished prose as the later books in the series. Still, John Rebus is a fascinating character, and he appears here nearly fully formed. My only complaint is that Rankin's technique gets far smoother over time, which really isn't much of a complaint at all.

I've already set the next two books in the Rebus series on my nightstand. Deadlines permitting, I'm hoping to dip into them very soon.

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