On Rebus

27 01 2008

The Rebus books by Ian Rankin

Have not mentioned the Rebus series before but in the past four or five years have read them all. OK, only just. Iwas going to wait for Exit Music to appear in paperback but then just couldn’t delay any longer and have just finished it. Generally, I avoid the Waterstones’ crime section, but was finally persuaded by the weight of highbrow reviews of Rankin to give him a go.

And am pretty glad I did. Despite the often grim subject matter I have found them all to be an easy read with really strong characterisation, not only of Rebus and those closest to him but other more transient individuals too. And a gritty and real Edinburgh is pretty prominent in most of the books too.

So, overall, good fun and really great entertainment. The soundtrack to Rebus’ life is not one I would choose for a minute (generally stuck in the early 70s) but despite this he is a genuinely interesting and sometimes almost likable rather than an annoying and curmudgeonly rebel (which is generally others’ view of him).

This is, I think, the full list in order

Rebus Series:
1 Knots and Crosses (1987)
2 Hide and Seek (1991)
3 Tooth and Nail (1992)
A good hanging (short stories)
4 Strip Jack (1992)
5 The Black Book (1993)
6 Mortal Causes (1994)
7 Let It Bleed (1996)
8 Black and Blue (1997)


9 The Hanging Garden (1998)
10 Dead Souls (1999)
11 Set in Darkness (2000)
12 The Falls (2001)
13 Resurrection Men (2003)
14 A Question of Blood (2004)
15 Fleshmarket close (2005)
16 Naming of the Dead (2006)
17 Exit Music (2007)

All highly recommended but don’t ask me to remember which one is which.

A bit tired

20 01 2008

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

After dark

Really not that interesting, unfortunately. Coiuple of people stay up late. Someone else is asleep. Elements of interconnectedness. All is dark. Nighty night.

Unfortunately, this lacks the bite, vigour and sheer spookiness of other Murakami outings so really rather disappointing.

2 star

You’ll have your eye out…

18 01 2008

All fun and games until somebody loses an eye by Christopher Brookmyre


An entertaining thriller involving a recent grandmother facing a middle-age crisis who gets recruited into an international edge-of-legal trouble-shooting outfit of quasi-superheroes after brilliantly fighting off kidnappers trying to remove her grand-daughter. She is then embroiled in elaborate activities and plots around attempts to rescue a missing scientist who just happens to be her son. Predictable outcome and some dully excessive detail on some of the technology but otherwise really entertaining, rip-roaring, page-turning stuff.

3 star

How many TVs?!!

17 01 2008

A delightful piece from Beeb about “affluenza”

The best bit of which is this quoted “fact”:

In the past, having a TV was seen as an indicator of wealth and class. Now, according to a study carried out by marketing and information group CACI, the average UK home has 4.7 television sets. A study by Lloyds TSB found that seven out of 10 children have a TV in their rooms and half of them have a DVD player too.


4.7!! That means that every person in every household in the UK has around 1.7 TVs each (ave of 2.7 people per household according to last census). Of course that figure is equally spurious but this is just such an absurd stat, can’t get over it. What are they doing with the things? Given lots of households only have one or possibly two, this must mean that lots of others have five, six or more? Gawd.

Hooray holiday blues

13 01 2008

Christmas Holiday by Somerset Maugham


A terrific book just brilliantly written and executed. Charley, fresh-faced, charming and yet utterly naive heads for Paris for a jolly Christmas break and fun with his oldest friend, Simon. He’s introduced by Simon to Lydia, exiled Russian and prostitute with whom he ends up spending almost his entire holiday (entirely chastely). During his introduction to the seedier side of Parisian life he hears the extraordinary tale of Lydia’s criminal husband, imprisoned overseas, and is changed in ways he struggles to understand.

In between these subterranean adventures he discovers Simon has turned into a revolutionary zealot but Charley finds his attitudes and behaviour incomprehensible. Finally he returns to the comfort of his secure middle class English family home but changed in many ways. Written just before the outbreak of WWII, Maugham was trying to shake the middle classes out of their complacency about the changes underway in continental Europe.

Compelling and really well written – it’s a long time since I read any Maugham and I’d forgotten just what an outstanding author he was.

4 star

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