An analysis of much-lauded crime writer Ian Rankin’s relationship with his iconoclastic detective John Rebus.
Journalist Cabell draws on a dozen interviews with Rankin, an exhaustive study of the Rebus TV series and an assessment of the Rankin literary oeuvre—all of them attesting to Rankin’s love for his adopted city of Edinburgh. Cabell concludes that the author and his principal character aren’t much alike, except in their knowledge of the underbelly of Edinburgh life. Rankin wrote a doctoral thesis on Muriel Spark; Rebus has no higher education. Rankin is a devoted family man; Rebus is incapable of emotional commitments. Rankin opted out of military and police careers; Rebus underwent SAS training. Granted, the two share minor attributes, especially a love of music, alcohol and the same local, the Oxford Pub. The closest connection, suggests Cabell, is Scotland, specifically Edinburgh. After 20 years, Rankin still can’t understand why no one ever connected his first two Rebus books with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Whereas Rankin’s favorites among his novels are Knots and Crosses, Hide and Seek, Let It Bleed and Black and Blue, Cabell identifies Dead Souls as the author’s seminal work. He argues that as Rankin has matured as a writer, he has come to resemble Rebus’s female cohort Siobhan Clarke more closely than Rebus himself. Rankin wonders whether she’ll headline a series of her own now that Rebus has retired.
More appreciation than critique. Cabell’s biggest achievement is an annotated guide to Rankin first editions and comprehensive cast lists and episode summaries of the TV series.