I am a big fan of Ian Rankin and was once lucky enough to join him for a whisky (ok so I was with all the other people who had bought tickets but I was in the same room as him!) so when I was asked to join the blog tour for his latest The Dark Remains of course I said yes.
The Dark Remains is actually a joint venture between Rankin and the late William McIlvanney. Rankin took the notes McIlvanney had written and turned them into a fully fledged story. This novel is a prequel to the original trilogy and introduces us to a young DC Laidlaw, who has a great policing sense but isn’t always very good at following orders. When Bobby Carter, a lawyer who works for some dubious but powerful families, is found dead, Laidlaw has to find out what happened before the gang rivalry becomes all out war.
I enjoyed this story alot. I’ve read the McIlvanney books and I’ve read Rankin so was interested to see how this mix would work. For me it takes the best of both and mixes it into an immensely enjoyable read. There is the humour of an Ian Rankin Rebus story overlaid with the grit of the Laidlaw background. The story is set in a Glasgow of the 70’s and I felt that this was portrayed well. The quality of the writing shows in that you are instantly transported to the city at that time and don’t need to be constantly reminded in words. It was enjoyable to read a detective story set in a time before mobile phones, and modern day forensics.
The story itself is what you would expect of a Rebus book, lots of gangsters and Glasgow slang but with characters that are also full of warmth and personality. It was interesting to find out about Laidlaw’s family and I enjoyed this glimpse into how the man became who he was.
The one thing I would say is read this with an open mind. It isn’t an Ian Rankin, and it isn’t a William McIlvanney, what it is, is a very good story!
Find out what others thought by visiting the other stops on the tour:
With less than a week to go until the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival its time to take stock of how the TOPCWFC2013 has gone.
Unfortunately however it looks like I’m definitely more Novak Djokovic than Andy Murray. Even for a reasonably fast reader like me there are just so many authors at the festival it’s impossible to read them all. By my calculations I counted 43 at the beginning of the challenge. That’s nearly a years’ reading at my normal one a week rate, and as much as I do love reading sometimes other distractions just get in the way (a visit to the Great Yorkshire Show this week for one) There has also been a big difference this year in that I have more blog followers, which in turn means I’ve actually been asked by people to review their books. This is not a complaint at all as it is still very exciting to be asked to read someone’s book, and I’ve discovered some very good authors that way. It does mean though that the challenge has come somewhat unstuck.
However when it comes to looking at the ‘TOPCWFC2013 Lite’ then things are a lot more rosy. There are 17 sessions not including the opening party, the quiz (at which we did rather well in last year, our team PTCK came third) or the dinner. Of these 17 I have read authors in all but two of the sessions.
Unusually for me the missing authors are actually two of this year’s ‘big hitters’. Someone recently accused me of sounding like a frog when in a bookshop ‘read it, read it, read it’ and so to admit that I have never read either William McIlvanney or Lee Child is rather embarrassing.
Crime itself is such a huge genre that it can be difficult sometimes to work out which authors to try. Often the easy option is to stay with the tried and trusted such as Val McDermid and Mark Billingham as you know you are going to be getting a great book, and straying away can be disappointing. It can also be a great experience though. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy doing this challenge, sometimes it may take over my life but its also addictive. The more I read the more I want to read and the festival provides such a plethora of new writers it is impossible not to want to try them. It is not even just about showcasing brand new writers such as those in the New Blood session, the festival is also about discovering writers that have been around but somehow slipped through my net, such as Lee Child.
Therefore with a week left to go, its down to the break point I’ve got a William McIlvanney book in my bag ready for a train journey this afternoon, and then I just need to fit in a quick Lee Child next week and its game set and match for the TOPCWFC2013 Lite.