Ranking on Rankin ...
I've read and heard some harsh opinions of Ian Rankin's writing recently, notably on The 10 Greatest Detective Novels, and, to tell the truth, I'm not the world's biggest fan of his novels. They can be plotty, joyless, willfully morose, and glutted with detail. Oddly enough, the first Rankin that I read, the short story "The Dean Curse," was precisely the opposite: pointed, witty and sharp. I mean, you can tell by the title that the man has a sense of humor. That tells me he's capable of wonderful things.
So, Rankin fans, what's the deal with him? Has he been writing so prolifically with so much success for so long that he sometimes feels an irrepressible urge to try something different? Is the wit of "The Dean Curse" an occasional break from the gloom and detail that he shovels on elsewhere? Or is the reverse the case? And what is Celtic noir, anyway? Does the term have any meaning beyond the blurbs? If I recall correctly, I've seen the term applied to Rankin, to Ken Bruen and maybe even to Bill James, and I don't see a heck of a lot in common among those writers.
Is there an anti-Rankin backlash? I mean, we couldn't possibly be jealous of the man because he's been an acclaimed novelist since he was in his mid-twenties and has already won an award for lifetime achievement and is still probably younger than a lot us are, could we?
© Peter Rozovsky 2006