A graceful appreciation from one master to another.... P.D. James reviews the new Ian Rankin novel, which appears to be the first of a new series of Edinburgh-based procedurals. Her review could be a manifesto: why does a certain kind of crime novel appeal?
Sez Lady James:
Rankin is predominantly a crime novelist of realism. He eschews even the convenient convention that a detective does not age and may talk of retiring but seldom does. Each book is set unambiguously in place and time. In The Complaints we are given precise dates at which the narrative moves forward. The story is told chiefly in dialogue which is terse and realistic. We meet Malcolm Fox on Friday 6 February 2009, and part company on Tuesday 24 February. We travel with him through the sinister underground of the city and the haunts of the rich and powerful, knowing the pubs, the offices, the hotels he enters, what he eats when he is alone, where he does his shopping and the food he buys. And always human lives are seen against the thread of history.Rankin is a master at what, for me, is one of the important aspects of a crime novel: the integration of setting, plot, characters and a theme which, for Rankin, is the moral dimension never far from his writing.