Fans of Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin have two new reasons to be cheerful.
First is the longed-for return of his police detective hero John Rebus in Standing in Another Man’s Grave, set for U.K. publication in November and U.S. release in January 2013.
It’s been 25 years since Rebus was introduced in Rankin’s Knots and Crosses. He quaffed and slugged his way through quite a number of cases after that, but five years ago, in the novel Exit Music, Inspector Rebus retired. It was time. He had reached 60, the mandatory retirement age for Scottish police—even though, at the time, a Scottish MP jokingly asked if the age could be raised to 65 simply so Rebus could stay on. (Rankin later remarked that he’d heard from real cops in Scotland who weren’t terribly amused by that suggestion.)
But times change—and so did that mandatory retirement age!—and Rankin recently told an audience at the Hay Festival of Literature & Art at Hay-On-Wye in England and Wales that when he sat down to write a new novel earlier this year he could see Rebus’s face and hear his voice. That was a pretty clear sign that Rebus wanted back in. After all, as Rankin said in an interview a few years back, “Rebus is merely retired not dead. He is working with the police department as a civilian. He lives in a compartment in my head, waiting patiently to be brought back to life.”
Devotees know Rebus was momentarily revived in The Very Last Drop, a 2010 short story Rankin wrote to benefit Royal Blind—Services for the Blind. More recently, Rankin said that he and Rebus still had some “unfinished business” to settle. He’d always known that Rebus would return and apparently he’d always known how. The “when” is now no longer in doubt.
Standing in Another Man’s Grave brings us up to date with Rebus, who’s been working in the cold case squad, and it places him in the path of another of Rankin’s recurring characters, internal affairs investigator Malcolm Fox of the Professional Standards Unit—a sober straight-arrow whom Rankin has dubbed “the anti-Rebus.” Per Rankin’s website: “[N]ot only is Rebus as stubborn and anarchic as ever, but he finds himself in trouble with Ian Rankin’s latest creation, Malcolm Fox of Edinburgh’s internal affairs unit. In the meantime his protégée Siobhan has stepped from under his shadow and is forging ahead in her own career.” Safe to say, sparks will fly.
Reason to Be Cheerful Number 2 is the upcoming two-hour TV adapation of Doors Open, based on Rankin’s 2008 stand-alone novel about a trio of unlikely suspects plotting the “perfect” art heist.
What we know thus far: It stars Douglas Henshall as businessman Mike Mackenzie, Stephen Fry as art expert Robert Gissing, and Kenneth Collard as banker Allan Cruickshank. The cast also includes Lenora Crichlow and Brian McCardie. Filming in Edinburgh is wrapping up about now. The U.S. broadcast date hasn’t been set yet, but look for it sometime this fall on the Ovation television network.
Image via lottie tea’s Tumblr
Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.
Read all posts by Leslie Gilbert Elman on Criminal Element.