Ian Rankin, Beggars Banquet

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Ian Rankin’s creation, Inspector John Rebus is a popular hero that transcends the stereotypical detective figure. Rankin uses the form to fill out a rounded character, a sense of place and the wider social reality. Beggars Banquet is his first short story collection and this edition contains an appreciation by the highly regarded American mystery writer Lawrence Block.

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Ian Rankin‘s Inspector John Rebus is probably the best known contemporary British detective series apart from Morse. The first Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses (1987) was originally conceived as a one-off, and was followed by two non-series book before the second installment arrived in 1991. In the early 90s Ian Rankin was little known and although his thrillers showed promise he lacked a market for them. This changed when he decided to work on a book twice the usual length with multiple story lines, a back story rich in Scottish heritage, with overlapping contemporary concerns. Black and Blue (1997) was critically acclaimed, received the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger and created the confidence and space for Rankin to develop and take the Rebus series to new levels; bringing significantly added zest to the growing book trade interest in a detective that was more about shadows and contradictions than solutions – thus noir came out of the shadows.

The combination of the seedy side of Edinburgh with the hand-drinking, tough but vulnerable policeman with humanity, and deft narratives paced like adventure stories was noted by television producers. Once the right leading man was found Rebus on the small screen came to rival other detective adaptations such as Wexford, Resnick and Morse.

Blurb from the Ian Rankin site: Collected together for the first time, these short stories from the modern-day master of crime writing represent the very best of Ian Rankin’s repertoire. Selected from ten years’ worth of material, they are taken from magazines, radio and journals. They include seven tales starring Rankin’s outstanding creation, Inspector John Rebus and this paperback edition includes the novella ‘Death is Not the End’. Stretching from suburban murders of loved ones to the sinister workings of a serial killer’s mind and from a bent cop with a terminal approach to his work to a hitman who gets more than he bargained from in a crowded fairground, these tales not only explore the inner life of a city like no other. For the streets of Edinburgh have seen more than their fair share of blood. With Beggars Banquet, Ian Rankin once again demonstrates all the powers that have made him a consistent number one bestseller. Including two CWA Dagger-winning tales, these stories show a writer of incredible range and a storyteller at the height of his powers.

The Scorpion Press edition was issued with an Appreciation by highly regarded American mystery writer Lawrence Block. Mr Block points out that in the old days the craft was learned through the short story form; these days few big-name writers have ever tried it. Possibly Rankin is the better writer for his evident skill at the shorter format. Our print run was 99 numbered and signed copies with 15 lettered for presentation purposes.

5.00 out of 5

2 reviews for Ian Rankin, Beggars Banquet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Lawrence Block on May 26, 2012 :

    Extract from the Appreciation by Lawrence Block

    “I’m not going to natter on about the stories themselves. You’ll read them yourselves, and you’ll like some more than others, depending on what you bring to the table. Because this book is, as its name implies, a feast, with a great assortment of dishes gracing the table. Several of the stories are about Inspector Rebus, but three times as many are not, and the range is considerable. But what I’m moved to comment on is not the particular virtues of these stories, but the mere fact that their author wrote them in the first place. Fifty years ago this would have been considerably less remarkable. Writers generally, and crime writers especially, began their careers by writing short stories. Many made their reputations, and much of their income, publishing short fiction in magazines. Well, the world has changed. There’s precious little economic incentive to write short stories nowadays. What magazines still exist are a parsimonious lot indeed. They aren’t even an easy way to get a foot in the publishing door; it is, generally speaking, easier to get a novel published than a short story. As a result, one can point to a surprising number of established contemporary writers of crime fiction who have never written a short story, and will tell you they haven’t a clue how to manage the trick. (Start writing, I tell them, and when you’ve produced three or five or seven thousand words, stop.) Some of these writers get coerced into trying a short story after they’ve made their reputations, and sometimes the stories they turn out are all right, and sometimes they are not. In either event, they tend afterward to heave a sigh of relief, regard the experiment as a frivolous indiscretion not to be repeated, and resume writing long books. A writer who has written short fiction throughout, and who continues to do so after his novels have won him a measure of fame and fortune, is, if not a rare bird, at least a candidate for the endangered species list. He’s also someone who quite evidently loves writing for its own sake. That love for the work is evident throughout Beggars Banquet”.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Karen on Goodreads on May 26, 2012 :

    Karen on Goodreads
    “A banquet indeed–loads of short stories, and a surprising number of gems. Even the few somewhat clichéd and cheesy stories are executed far better than most entries in this genre. Rankin has an excellent sense of setting, interesting characters, and usually good plotting. He doesn’t usually experiment with writing style or different ways of presenting the story–just straightforward story-telling.

    About a third of the stories (NOT arranged in chronological order) feature a recurring character in his mysteries, but you don’t need to read his novels to follow the stories. Figuring out the character’s timeline is a bit annoying though.”

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