In an effort to understand the Ian Rankin phenomenon, I borrowed a book called Rebus: The Early Years, consisting of the three first Rebus novels; Knots & Crosses, Hide & Seek and Tooth & Nail. I can now say that I do get the fuss. Rebus, the way he is portrayed here, with his unfulfilled religious feelings and dysfunctional relationships is a much more appealing figure than I found him in Dead Souls. And btw, how the feck do you link when blogging anyway? It's driving me around the bloody bend, and I can find feck all useful in the so-called "help" section. Anyway, in these three I can even cope with the eternal whisky (sic).
This compilation comes complete with foreword by Rankin. He claims that when he wrote Knots & Crosses he had didn't have a clue that he'd written a crime novel. "When the book was published, I found to my astonishment that everyone was saying I'd written a whodunnit, a crime novel. I think I'm still the only crime writer I know who hadn't a clue about the genre before setting out. There were crime sections in bookshops and libraries - news to me - and a healthy number of practitioners extant." Two bones to pick with this though; firstly, if he has no knowledge of the genre, he could hardly have Rebus refer to the plot he finds himself in as something reminiscent of a "cheap thriller" somewhere half-way through the book (QED and all), and secondly, who in their right mind would call this a whodunnit? Beggars belief, dahlinks.
Methinks he is having us on a little. Well, not about other people calling it a whodunnit, but about himself knowing absolutely nothing of the genre. Although, he might be in earnest, and the cheap thriller comment only shows how much of the crime fiction what's-the-word-I'm-looking-for-can't-concentrate-worth-a-damn-here um, attributes perhaps have become such common knowledge that people refer to them without actually knowing them first-hand.
Knots & Crosses: Introduces Rebus, who is carrying some sort of dark secret from his days in the SAS. Young girls are being abducted and killed. Rebus is receiving crank letters. We understand in five seconds that the two things are connected, Rebus doesn't, because he is daft. Interesting homosexual theme, am left unsure if Rebus actually had sex with his army friend or not.
Hide & Seek: Junkie found dead, something not right, Rebus finds out junkie hid possibly incriminating photos.
Tooth & Nail: Least favourite novel. A bit complacent. Author looking for television rights? Rankin goes to London to help out on serial killer case. Portrait of killer not bad. Ends with pathetic car chase - God almighty, I do hate car chases. Better on paper than on film, but nevertheless.