It tells us important things about the world in which it is set.
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Just as The Maltese Falcon immediately throws its reader back to s San Francisco, and Sherlock Holmes is one of the first reference points for late 19th-century London, Rebus does the business for his generation in Edinburgh. But he admitted that he understood something of the appeal. Crime fiction is going through a second golden age. It seems to me … that the literary novel is actually looking back.
He might also have added that few other books are so good at capturing small moments of day-to-day life. The Falls is full, for instance, of telling passing references to developments in the Scottish capital.
Towards the end of the story, we see a character called Jean Burchill walking in the centre of town: In the novel these things seem strange, new, flimsy and possibly even a little daft. Will that hotel have the resonance of the old Scotsman building?
10 Great Rebus Novels
And this question seems all the more interesting just over a decade later, when the new parliamentary setup has become such a fixed part of a Scotland dominated by Holyrood. The action also takes place in that curious period around the turn of the millennium when the dotcom boom had been and gone, but social media and smartphones were barely imagined. One of the weaker strands in the book relates to an online role-playing game that needs participants to be able to connect to the internet remotely and often.
This might seem fairly contemporary, except that this is presented as an unusual and expensive behaviour full of protocols and intricacies that need to be explained to the non tech-savvy. There are also WAP phones.
The Rebus Books in Order - Ian Rankin
Hood held up his mobile phone. Sends emails, the lot. I find it hard to imagine many other novels featuring WAP phones. Likewise, few other histories will recall that many similar conversations were going on around the UK at the same time, how ridiculous everyone thought the WAP evangelists were, and how quickly those poor souls became embarrassed. Who wants to be bothered by the internet on a phone, after all?
In an article like this one, such particulars may seem fleeting and inconsequential, but in the novel itself, where there are so many other flashes of memory, they start to feel brightly illuminating. Rankin never lets his details get in the way of the story, but they accumulate beautifully. To give another example, The Falls is full of unhealthy living, especially involving alcohol. A quick ebook audit revealed:. Plus an additional Talisker and four Ardbegs.
A low number, but quality makes up for the lack of quantity: Having nursed his pint while Rebus downed two double whiskies and two beers, Grant was dismayed to find another half poured into his glass as soon as there was room for it. A non-caffeinated tea drink, which does not go down well with the person made to drink it.
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Return to Book Page. A brilliant box set of the first ten Rebus novels. Kindle Edition , pages.
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