I’ve been thinking some more about Rebus since I wrote that last post, and wondering if Rankin is trying to kill off the golden goose. It’s odd to think of Rebus as in any way golden, since he’s such a curmudgeon. Contrary, bad-tempered, aggressive, unhealthy (almost terminally so) and yet somehow always on the side of the angels, Rebus has kept us all guessing for nearly thirty years, since ‘Knots and Crosses’ first appeared in 1987.
And yet in this latest book I can’t help wondering if Rankin’s heart is really in it – or whether, like his revered predecessor Conan Doyle (there are a number of references to Sherlock in his work, including the character Brian Holmes and the Chief Inspector ‘the Farmer’ Watson) he is looking for a way out. It wouldn’t be surprising; there must be a limit to the number of falls Rebus can take; the number of fights he can survive and – latterly – the number of ways in which, as a retired policeman, he can inveigle his way into an investigation. In ‘Rather be the Devil’ he nearly cops it (no pun intended) once more as a shadow on his lung is being investigated – but instead of being a force for suspense it’s a background detail, as though his survival were never in question. Which maybe it wasn’t: you can’t imagine Rankin’s publishers being happy about Rebus dying. Not unless there was a handy waterfall nearby…
A propos of which, I am very happy to note that the BBC series ‘Sherlock’ is due to return very soon:
Can’t wait for that.
In the meantime, I shall re-read ‘Rather Be The Devil’ before I spend my Waterstone’s voucher.