Rankin, Ian 1960- (Jack Harvey, Ian James Rankin)
Rankin, Ian 1960- (Jack Harvey, Ian James Rankin)
Born April 28, 1960, in Cardenden, Fife, Scotland; son of James and Isobel Rankin; married Miranda Harvey; children: two sons. Education: University of Edinburgh, M.A. (with honors), 1982. Hobbies and other interests: Times crossword, rock music, seedy bars.
Home—Edinburgh, Scotland. Agent—Dominick Abel, 146 W. 82nd St., No. 1B, New York, NY 10024; Curtis Brown Group Ltd., Haymarket House 28-29 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SP, England.
Author. Appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Edinburgh, Scotland, 2007. Has worked variously as a swineherd, a taxman, viticulturist, hi-fi journalist, and folktale collector.
International Association of Crime Writers, Society of Authors, Crime Writers' Association (president, 1999-2000).
Hawthornden fellow, 1987; Chandler-Fulbright fellowship in detective fiction, 1991-92; Dagger Award for best short story, Crime Writers' Association, 1994, for "A Deep Hole," 1996, for "Herbert in Motion"; Gold Dagger Award, Crime Writers' Association, 1997, for Black and Blue; Palle Rosencrantz Prize, Denmark, 2000; named Officer of the British Empire, 2002; Grand Prix du Roman Noir, 2003; Whodunnit Prize, Finland, 2003; Edgar Allan Poe Award, 2004, for Resurrection Men; GQ Writer of the Year, 2005; British Book Awards Crime Thriller of the Year, 2005, for Fleshmarket Close; Crime Thriller of the Year, Cartier Diamond Dagger lifetime achievement award, Crime Writers' Association, 2005; Galaxy British Book Awards, 2007, for The Naming of the Dead. Also winner of various short story prizes; Alumnus of the Year, Edinburgh University; honorary degrees from University of Abertay Dundee, University of St. Andrews, and University of Edinburgh.
The Flood, Polygon (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1986.
Watchman, Bodley Head (London, England), 1988, Little, Brown, (New York, NY), 2007.
Westwind, Barrie & Jenkins (London, England), 1990.
"INSPECTOR REBUS" SERIES; DETECTIVE NOVELS
Knots and Crosses, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1987.
Hide and Seek: A John Rebus Mystery, Barrie & Jenkins (London, England), 1991, Penzler Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Strip Jack, Orion (London, England), 1992, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Wolfman, Century (London, England), 1992.
The Black Book: An Inspector Rebus Novel, Orion (London, England), 1993, Penzler Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Mortal Causes, Orion (London, England), 1994, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Let It Bleed, Orion (London, England), 1995, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
Black and Blue, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.
The Hanging Garden, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Tooth & Nail, Orion (London, England), 1998.
Rebus—The Early Years, Orion (London, England), 1999.
Dead Souls, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 1999.
Death Is Not the End, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2000.
Set in Darkness, Orion (London, England), 2000.
Resurrection Men, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.
A Question of Blood, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.
Fleshmarket Close, Orion (London, England), 2004.
Three Great Novels: Capital Crimes (includes Dead Souls, Set in Darkness, and The Falls), Orion (London, England), 2004.
Fleshmarket Alley, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2005.
The Naming of the Dead, Orion (London, England), 2007.
NOVELS; AS JACK HARVEY
Witch Hunt, Headline (London, England), 1993, Little, Brown, (New York, NY), 2004.
Bleeding Hearts, Headline (London, England), 1994, reprinted under name Ian Rankin, Little, Brown, (New York, NY), 2006.
Blood Hunt, Headline (London, England), 1995, reprinted under name Ian Rankin, Little, Brown, (New York, NY), 2006.
The Jack Harvey Novels, Orion (London, England), 2000.
A Good Hanging and Other Stories, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1992.
Herbert in Motion and Other Stories, Revolver (London, England), 1997.
(Editor) Ian Rankin Presents Criminal Minded: A Collection of Short Fiction from Canongate Crime, Canongate Crime (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2000.
Beggar's Banquet (short stories), Orion (London, England), 2002.
(And presenter) Ian Rankin's Evil Thoughts (television program), British Broadcasting Corp., Channel 4, 2002.
The Complete Short Stories: A Good Hanging, Beggars Banquet & Atonement, Orion (London, England), 2005.
(With Alexander McCall Smith and Irvine Welsh) One City, foreword by Lesley Hinds, Polygon (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2005.
Rebus's Scotland: A Personal Journey, photographs by Tricia Malley and Ross Gillespie, Orion (London, England), 2005.
Contributor to anthologies, including Once City, Polygon (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2005. Author of novella Doors Open, serialized in the New York Times, 2007. Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine; contributor of articles to periodicals. Books have been translated into twenty-three languages.
The Inspector Rebus books Black and Blue, The Hanging Garden, Dead Souls, and Mortal Causes have been televised on ITV; author's books have been adapted for audio, including Fleshmarket Alley, Brilliance Audio, c. 2005, and The Naming of the Dead, Hachette Audio, 2007.
Ian Rankin has "established himself as one of the most talented … British crime novelists" writing today, according to a Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers essayist. Rankin is best known for his series of crime novels featuring Detective Inspector John Rebus. In these works, which are often referred to as "police procedurals" for their focus on solving a crime, Rankin combines the dialect and setting of his native Scotland with poetic prose and gritty realism. The "Rebus" stories are set in Edinburgh, and the essayist noted that they "often exploit the stark contrast between that city's genteel facade and some of its squalid realities." Rebus himself is a complex character, in the opinion of numerous reviewers. He is sensitive, brooding, and somewhat insecure, but he is also tough and relentless. He is aware that even when he solves a case, the triumph of justice is fleeting; there will always be more evil and corruption. Booklist contributor Emily Melton once noted that "Rankin is a genius at finding the perfect blend of curmudgeonly guile, stubborn gruffness, and unsuspecting vulnerability for Rebus, who … is a refreshing if lonely champion of truth and justice." Melton also praised Rankin for delivering "sparkling wit, superb plotting, and a host of surprising twists."
Rankin introduced readers to Rebus with his second novel, Knots and Crosses. In this work, the detective attempts to find the murderer of several young girls with the help of his policewoman girlfriend and reporter Jim Stevens. A contributor to Books dubbed Knots and Crosses a "well constructed, exciting" story, and a Kirkus Reviews reviewer praised Rankin's "solidly drawn characters, [and] keen psychological insights." Reporter Stevens makes a brief appearance in Rankin's next effort, Watchman, in which British Secret Service agent Miles Flint struggles with IRA terrorists. Although a contributor to Kirkus Reviews found this work "slightly disappointing" in comparison to Knots and Crosses, the reviewer still enjoyed the book's "tense, convincing finale."
In Wolfman Rebus is temporarily reassigned to the London office to help in the investigation of a serial killer whose signature mark is the bite he takes out of his victims. A reviewer for Books remarked that "Rebus is a character drawn in the round, and realism is the hallmark of the book." In Strip Jack, Rankin's next mystery to feature Rebus, a popular member of the British Parliament is found in a brothel during a police raid, shortly after which his wife is beaten to death. Critical response was generally positive to what New York Times Book Review contributor Marilyn Stasio dubbed an "intricately knotted murder plot." In the Chicago Tribune, Dick Adler singled out Rankin's "crisp, refreshing prose," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor highlighted Rankin's "offbeat characters and … eccentric but appealing narrative style."
In Hide and Seek Rebus investigates a modern-day Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde case. Male prostitutes are the victims, and their killer appears to be a devil worshiper. "For all its modern grit, this multilayered story is as deeply moralistic as Stevenson's classic horror tale about the divided passions of the human soul," mused Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review. "In Mr. Rankin's subtle treatment of the theme, every character seems to have two faces—or a Cain-like brother—to reflect his corrupt dark side." Black and Blue finds Rebus looking into another serial killer case—this one involving a "copycat killer" who imitates the grisly crimes of another murderer Rebus was involved with thirty years earlier. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Black and Blue Rebus's "biggest and most grueling" case and added: "Rankin's dexterity in juggling plots and threats and motives lights up the darkness with a poet's grace. Reading him is like watching somebody juggle a dozen bottles of single malt without spilling a drop."
Rebus's adult daughter, Sammy, is depicted throughout the series as one of the few bright points in his personal life. In The Hanging Garden Sammy is almost killed in a suspicious hit-and-run accident. Rebus believes the incident is related to some of his recent work. With his daughter threatened, Rebus's "ferocity is ratcheted up a notch," according to Bill Ott in Booklist. Ott continued: "Nobody does grit like Rankin. The Rebus novels live on texture; the taste of cold coffee and the grinding edges of frayed nerves take on a visceral reality as the cops slog toward answers that only bring more questions. Against the unremitting grayness of this world, Rebus's beleaguered humanity shines in bold relief."
In Fleshmarket Close the crusty policeman discovers that he has sympathy for the collectively oppressed. Senay Boztas wrote in the London Sunday Times: "The case forces [Rebus] … to confront the plight of refugees and the conditions in which they are held at a detention camp, based on the notorious Dungavel centre in Lanarkshire," and described Fleshmarket Close as Rankin's "most overtly political novel to date."
In more recent years, Rankin has continued adding to his "Inspector Rebus" series, all of which have received more than favorable reviews. Rebus is tracking a serial killer and dealing with his increasing nihilism in Dead Souls. Bill Ott observed in Booklist that the author "ups the ante here by finding in his hero's soul traces of the same gangrene that eats away at society." Death Is Not the End, finds Rebus on a personal case as he looks for the missing son of an old friend married to a past flame. "Taut exposition, wry dialogue and deft plotting, together with an insider's view of the seedy underside of Edinburgh, combine to make a superior thriller," reported a Publishers Weekly contributor. Set in Darkness finds Rebus drinking heavily and on the case of a decades-old murder that leads him to a confrontation with crime boss Big Ger Cafferty. "Nobody writes darker than Rankin," asserted Ott in a Booklist review, while a Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the author "has woven a plot grittier and tighter than ever."
In Rankin's 2003 police procedural, A Question of Blood, Rebus investigates a murder-suicide and then finds himself the object of suspicion when his partner's stalker is found dead in a fire and Rebus turns up with burnt hands. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the series entry an "immensely satisfying police procedural." Commenting on Rebus's inner torment, Ott wrote in Booklist: "Even if his demons have become familiar, his rants are like poetry to kindred souls." The Falls features Rebus growing increasingly disenfranchised with his colleagues and people in general as he tries to find a missing coed and discovers that she is only the latest missing person in a series of connected disappearances spanning thirty years. A Kirkus Reviews contributor believed that "readers will find … no characters in the genre more provocative or sharply delineated than Rankin's ongoing cast." Booklist's Ott appreciated how "the suspense builds to a remarkably exciting finale."
In Fleshmarket Alley, called a "superb crime novel" by Ott, Inspector Rebus investigates the death of a Kurdish refugee. The trail ultimately leads him to a modern-day slave trading operation. In the meantime, Rebus's colleague Siobhan Clarke is investigating the disappearance of a woman whose sister was raped and subsequently committed suicide. As the two pursue their individual cases, they begin to realize that they are connected. A Publishers Weekly contributor was convinced that "Rebus remains one of the more compelling characters in crime fiction." Ott especially enjoyed the author's "remarkably perceptive analysis of the contemporary immigration dilemma at its most achingly human level."
Rebus is on the case of an international conference attendee who supposedly has committed suicide in the next book featuring the inspector, The Naming of the Dead. Among the conference attendees are such world leaders as Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush. As Rebus investigates, he discovers that the death was actually one of a series of murders committed by a serial killer. "The focus on international events adds thematic heft to the novel," according to Ott. Janet Maslin, writing in the New York Times, com- mented: "A book with … many plot elements risks becoming amorphous and overcomplicated. But Mr. Rankin doesn't get lost that way. In his backhanded, reluctant way Rebus winds up uniting all the book's loose ends, and seeing how he accomplishes this is a pleasure."
Rankin is also noted for his short stories, such as his collection A Good Hanging and Other Stories. The collection's twelve short stories all feature Inspector Rebus. "The short story format works perfectly in showcasing Rebus unraveling a series of old-fashioned puzzles," reported Connie Fletcher in Booklist. For example, among the stories is the classic dead body found in a totally locked and secure room. In another tale, Rebus comes upon what appears to be the perfect murder. A Kirkus Reviews contributor betrayed a preference for the novels featuring Rebus, but added that "any time spent with Rebus is quality time."
A series of standalone thrillers first published under the pseudonym Jack Harvey in the mid 1990s appeared in the United States nearly a decade later using Rankin's real name. Witch Hunt, like the other Harvey novels, does not feature Rebus but rather tells the story of the female assassin named "Witch." Both Scotland Yard detectives and a young intelligence technician are on her trail as her plan for revenge unfolds. "Regardless of locale, Rankin's hard-boiled tales are compelling, original, and chilling as a Scottish mist," wrote Allison Block in Booklist.
Bleeding Hearts features paid assassin Michael Weston. Called the "Demolition Man" because of his tactic of using a diversionary explosion while he takes out his target, Weston finds that he has been set up after making a kill and has the police, a P.I. named Leo Hoffer, and an unknown adversary after him. Keir Graff, writing in Booklist, called the novel "plenty good." Entertainment Weekly contributor Jennifer Reese predicted that the thriller "will keep you flipping pages into the night."
Blood Hunt is another stand-alone novel, first published under the Harvey pseudonym and then under the author's real name. This tale revolves around an ex-soldier named Gordon Reeve, who trains people in combat skills. When Reeve's brother, an investigative reporter, supposedly commits suicide, Reeve decides he was murdered. His investigation leads him to a chemical conglomerate. Library Journal contributor Craig Shufelt wrote: "Rankin's skill is evident" here, while Graff, once again writing in Booklist, commented that "those who like their thrillers fast and chilling will be in miserable bliss."
Rankin once told CA: "My Inspector Rebus books are Scottish novels first, and mysteries second. I want to write about contemporary Scotland, and particularly contemporary Edinburgh, showing how the past infuses (and infects) the present. A novel like The Black Book: An Inspector Rebus Novel depends more on the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson and James Hogg than it does on any whodunit forebear. Edinburgh is schizophrenic; it exhibits a definite dual personality. A look into history told me that this was nothing new, and hinted that in writing about my nation's twisted present, I might be saying something about its past psychoses too. A critic with an eye for an oxymoron once stated that I'd invented ‘Tartan Noir.’ Maybe that's not so far from the truth."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Book, January-February, 2003, review of Resurrection Men, p. 23.
Booklist, December 1, 1996, Emily Melton, review of Let It Bleed, p. 643; October 1, 1997, David Pitt, review of Black and Blue, p. 309; August, 1998, Bill Ott, review of The Hanging Garden, p. 1977; September 15, 1999, Bill Ott, review of Dead Souls, p. 238; May 1, 2000, Bill Ott, review of Dead Souls, p. 1590; May 15, 2000, Bill Ott, review of Death Is Not the End, p. 1734; August, 2000, Bill Ott, review of Set in Darkness, p. 2122; August, 2001, Bill Ott, review of The Falls, p. 2052; January 1, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of A Good Hanging and Other Stories, p. 819; September 1, 2002, Bill Ott, review of Resurrection Men, p. 7; December 1, 2003, Bill Ott, review of A Question of Blood, p. 627; August, 2004, Allison Block, review of Witch Hunt, p. 1871; December 1, 2004, Bill Ott, review of Fleshmarket Alley, p. 619; January 1, 2006, Keir Graff, review of Blood Hunt, p. 24; September 1, 2006, Keir Graff, review of Bleeding Hearts, p. 8; February 1, 2007, Bill Ott, review of The Naming of the Dead, p. 6.
Books, April, 1987, review of Knots and Crosses, p. 32; March, 1992, review of Wolfman, p. 12.
Bookseller, February 2, 2007, Gilies Elliott, "Rankin Novella in NYT," p. 12.
Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1994, Dick Adler, review of Strip Jack, p. 6.
Entertainment Weekly, January 30, 1998, Nikki Amdur, review of Black and Blue, p. 61; February 13, 2004, Karyn L. Barr, review of A Question of Blood, p. 77; February 4, 2005, Michael Endelman, review of Fleshmarket Alley, p. 137; November 17, 2006, Jennifer Reese, review of Bleeding Hearts, p. 132.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 3, 2003, review of Resurrection Men.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1987, review of Knots and Crosses, p. 1117; May 1, 1991, review of Watchman, p. 568; January 1, 1994, review of Strip Jack, p. 22; September 1, 1994, review of The Black Book: An Inspector Rebus Novel, p. 1171; October 1, 1996, review of Let It Bleed, p. 1430; October 1, 1997, review of Black and Blue; August 15, 2001, review of The Falls, p. 1172; December 1, 2001, review of A Good Hanging and Other Stories, p. 1650; December 15, 2004, review of Fleshmarket Alley, p. 1169; January 1, 2006, review of Blood Hunt, p. 19.
Library Journal, December, 1996, Rex E. Klett, review of Let It Bleed, p. 151; August, 1997, review of Let It Bleed, p. 168l; September 1, 2000, Bob Lunn, review of Set in Darkness, p. 256; September 15, 2001, Wilda Williams, review of The Falls, p. 117; February 15, 2002, Wilda Williams, review of A Good Hanging and Other Stories, p. 182; January, 2003, Wilda Williams, review of Resurrection Men, p. 158; January, 2004, Bob Lunn, review of A Question of Blood, p. 166; January 1, 2005, Lisa O'Hara, review of Fleshmarket Alley, p. 85; February 1, 2006, Craig Shufelt, review of Blood Hunt, p. 74.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 10, 1994, review of Hide and Seek: A John Rebus Mystery, p. 8.
M2 Best Books, February 4, 2004, "MWA Edgar Award Nominees Announced"; May 3, 2004, "Ian Rankin Wins Edgar Allan Poe Award"; August 27, 2004, "Edinburgh Bids to Become World City of Literature."
New Statesman and Society, November 13, 1992, John Williams, review of Strip Jack, p. 36.
New York Times, April 2, 2007, Janet Maslin, "Scottish Cop Isn't Fazed by Protests or Bagpipes," review of The Naming of the Dead, p. 1; August 20, 2007, "Ms. Rowling Is Up to Something," p. 2.
New York Times Book Review, April 17, 1994, Marilyn Stasio, review of Strip Jack, p. 19; July 3, 1994, Marilyn Stasio, review of Hide and Seek, p. 17; October 9, 1994, review of The Black Book, p. 34; January 21, 1996, review of Mortal Causes, p. 3; January 5, 1997, Marilyn Stasio, review of Let It Bleed, p. 20; December 14, 1997, Marilyn Stasio, review of Black and Blue, p. 30; February 9, 2003, Marilyn Stasio, review of Resurrection Men, p. 17; February 22, 2004, Charles McArthur Taylor, "Paint It Noir," p. 7; November 19, 2006, Natalie Moore, review of Let It Bleed, p. 29.
Orlando Sentinel, March 10, 2004, review of Resurrection Men.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 22, 2007, "Author Ian Rankin's Popularity Has Swept Him in Unexpected Directions."
Publishers Weekly, January 17, 1994, review of Strip Jack, p. 410; September 12, 1994, review of The Black Book, p. 85; October 7, 1996, review of Let It Bleed, p. 64; August 25, 1997, review of Black and Blue, p. 48; September 6, 1999, review of Dead Souls, p. 85; May 15, 2000, review of Death Is Not the End, p. 92; October 2, 2000, review of Set in Darkness, p. 62; October 1, 2001, review of The Falls, p. 40; January 14, 2002, John F. Baker, "LB Takes Rankin," p. 14; December 9, 2002, review of Resurrection Men, p. 64; January 5, 2004, review of A Question of Blood, p. 43; January 5, 2004, Time Peters, "The Puzzle of Detective Inspector John Rebus," p. 45; August 23, 2004, review of Witch Hunt, p. 38; January 10, 2005, review of Fleshmarket Alley, p. 41; January 2, 2006, review of Blood Hunt, p. 34; September 18, 2006, review of Bleeding Hearts, p. 32; January 22, 2007, review of The Naming of the Dead, p. 155.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 18, 2000, review of Set in Darkness; November 30, 2001, review of The Falls; January 28, 2003, review of Resurrection Men; April 14, 2004, review of A Question of Blood; May 2, 2007, review of The Naming of the Dead.
Spectator, April 7, 2001, Harriet Waugh, review of The Falls, p. 35; January 12, 2002, Allan Massie, review of Resurrection Men, p. 35; September 6, 2003, Allan Massie, "The Puzzle of Rebus," p. 44.
State, February 7, 2003, review of Resurrection Men.
Sunday Times (London, England), March 28, 2004, Senay Boztas, "It's PC Rebus as Detective Finds His Conscience," p. 14.
Times Literary Supplement, May 2, 1986, review of The Flood, p. 478; September 23, 1994, review of Mortal Causes, p. 22; February 28, 1997, Liam McIlvanney, review of Black and Blue, p. 22.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 6, 1994, review of Strip Jack, p. 6; January 5, 1997, review of Let It Bleed, p. 4.
UPI NewsTrack, November 23, 2006, "Rankin: Death Not in John Rebus' Future."
Weekend Edition Sunday, April 22, 2007, "Author Ian Rankin Makes Crime Pay Nicely, Thanks."
Wilson Library Bulletin, April 1994, Gail Pool, review of Strip Jack, p. 98.
Contemporary Writers,http://www.contemporarywriters.com/ (September 19, 2007), biography of Ian Rankin.
Ian Rankin Home Page,http://www.ianrankin.net (August 15, 2004).