Fiction & Biography
CRIME DRAMA IAN RANKIN
Resurrection Men (Orion 5,717.99) 0.00
The trouble with any series of fictional works is that, after a time, things can get a bit samey. These series creators, especially those of a crime fiction persuasion, can often find themselves either producing the same book over and over again or heading off towards the other extreme and trying far too hard to be different
from what has gone before.
Ian Rankin has managed quite nimbly to fall into neither of these traps so far, and Resurrection Men, the thirteenth full-length novel in his Rebus strain, is yet another example of a well-balanced and thoughtful crime story with trademark darkly philosophical overtones.
So here, Rankin’s anti-hero copper John Rebus has been sent back to school. Fed up with his continual insubordination and general maverick tendencies, the powers-that-be have sent Rebus to be retrained at police college Tulliallan. There, he hangs out with a bunch of other anti-authority coppers, all of them drinking in the Last Chance Saloon of their careers.
This ‘Wild Bunch’ of hard-bitten policemen are given an unsolved case to work on in an attempt to re-establish a sense of co-operation and team spirit in their embittered hearts, although
inevitably all is not as it first seems.
The case the team is working on is the death of Rico Lomax, an unsolved murder from a few years back which awakens ghosts from Rebus’ past as well as bringing his arch enemy Gerald Cafferty back into the forefront of his mind.
Back in Edinburgh, the case which Rebus has
been thrown off, an enquiry into the killing of a well-to-do art dealer, has been taken over by his
previous understudy, the newly promoted Detective
Sergeant Siobhan Clarke.
It will come as a surprise to no one on earth who has ever read a crime novel that these two cases, although initially unrelated, become intertwined and intermingled. Also of little surprise is that Rebus is yet again right up to his armpits in dirt, bending rules to breaking point if not beyond and generally fumbling his way somehow through his life and faltering career, pint
of 80/- in one hand, fag in the other.
But all this, as always, is handled with no little amount of skill by Rankin, whose narrative pace and plotting are spot-on once again. The themes of inescapable past misdemeanours and the possibility of
MINI GUIDES POCKET ESSENTIALS Various (Pocket Essentials f‘9.99i O... The warm mo— Mme. Mood m'm. PW WWI
Shrinking Freud for fun
82 THE LIST ii ti' (Jan 73/)?
Rankin’s skill is present and correct
redemption through your current actions are dealt with
subtly and never over-dramatised, and the lack of moral
absolutes within his characters is still a refreshingly
Also credible is Rankin’s obvious grooming of DS Clarke for higher profile roles in future novels, something which goes in tandem with a general lessening of Rebus’ influence over proceedings. That change of emphasis aside, it’s business as usual in
Resurrection Men, with Edinburgh an ever-present
In these bitesi/e. mini—cultural times. anything that shrinks a wealth of Information into digestible chunks is Immediately a bad thing. right? Well. not when they're from the Pocket FssentIa/s series, little slivers of knowledge which both entertain and Inform III an always Intelligent. sometimes head scratchineg tough way.
Apparently. the Idea came when Pocket Essentials editor Paul Duncan was III the shower. pondering over comments from friends that films made before 1980 didn't really matter. while another proclaimed Quentin larantino as a paragon of Innovation and originality. Duncan's response. once he'd dried himself. was to set out on a project .’/lll(2ll took the past more seriously Without alienating the modern ‘thInker'.
And so. the end of 1999 saw compact histories and film analyses of Stanley Kubrick and Alfred l-lItchccck being published. albeit to little acclaim Willi particular cI'ItIcIsIII taigeted at
backdrop, and all the usual in-jokes on Scottish culture present and correct. Not a book that’ll change your life, but a damn good read nonetheless.
their breVIty: the booklets succeed in stating a case Within 100 pages.
A year later and the format was being adapted to take In the unrelated social and historical likes of conspiracy theories. Freud and psychoanalysis (the section on mourning and melancholia Is a gasi. Philip K. Dick and the American CiVIl War while remaining true to Its origins Willi books on Blaxploitation. filming on a microbudget. David Lynch and the Oscars.
for the year 2002. there will be four Pocket l’sse/ItIa/s coming out each month. turning the enterprise Into a mInI empire of knowledge. This month sees (Ilint Eastwood. New labour. Ancient Greece and Steven Soderbeigh anthologised while upcoming topics through the year Include a history of the Internet. Spike lee. terrorism and Madchester. When It comes to getting to the heart of culture. there's no need for being sI/eist about Pocket [7ssentia/s.
Classic novels revisited. This issue: A Clockwork Orange
Published 40 years ago. What’s the story? Anthony Burgess' Classic is narrated by fifteen-year-old Alex III 'Nadsat'. a mix of corrupt Russian and slang. He and his ‘droogs' terrorise the public With 'ultraviolence'. raping women while listening to Beethoven and fighting with razors. Alex is imprisoned for murder and treated with mind altering drugs and horrifying visuals to the point where he cannot bear the thought of violence. sex or music.
What the critics said 'I do not know of any other writer who has done as much with language as Mr Burgess has. the fact that this is also a very funny book may p; ss unnoticed.‘ (William Burroughs): 'A terrifying and marvellous book.’ (Roald Dahli.
Key moment The final chapter. cut from Kubrick's notorious film, Is the most poignant expression of Burgess” theme of moral choice versus determinism. Alex. now eighteen and lonely. meets the only droog not to have betrayed him. He covets Pete's new wife. and considers ‘fInding some devotchka' to father his son. but wonders if his child can be protected from the seductiveness of 'ultraviolence'.
Postscript Burgess began writing professionally In 19:59. having been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The diagnosis turned out to be wrong. and Burgess stayed with his new career for 35) years. writing novels and criticism.
First line test "‘What's It going to be then. eh’?"'
I A Clockwork Orange s published by Penguin priced 526.99.
A: I l IIONY BURGESS
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