Standing in Another Man’s Grave
Atop my short list of crime or thriller writers whose every work I buy the moment it comes out is Ian Rankin. I had never been a crime novel reader. In August 1999, we were about to leave Scotland for France and I had nothing to read for the remainder of our trip, so I picked up the Rankin novel that had just come out in paperback. I can’t say I liked it that much. A little too violent. I did like its depiction of Edinburgh, though, so I got the next one. And the next, and the next, having fallen in love with Rankin’s great creation, Detective Inspector John Rebus.
Rankin retired Rebus five years ago in Exit Music, introducing in his place a new Edinburgh detective, Malcolm Fox. Fox works in the internal affairs division, and has appeared in The Complaints and The Impossible Dead. (See posts here and here.)
I always order Rankin’s books from the UK, since they are published there well before their US appearances (and for this reason, my links above are to amazon.co.uk). Every so often, I head over to the UK site and look up Rankin to see if future titles are listed. Doing so last month, I discovered that Standing in Another Man’s Grave is due soon. November 8. Better yet, Rebus returns! I immediately pre-ordered it. I gather Fox may be led to investigate Rebus, perhaps because of an old case. I don’t know. And I don’t want to know more, not until I read it.
Standing in Another Man’s Grave will make its US appearance on January 15, for those of you who are content to wait two months rather than paying for overseas shipping. We got into the UK ordering habit years ago with the Harry Potter books, back when UK publication was many months before US publication. Even when Potter became such a huge phenomenon that each new novel was released simultaneously around the world, we would still order the UK version, since it preserved the original language of J.K. Rowling rather than Americanizing large bits of text. That’s not an issue with Rankin, of course, but still, I don’t want to wait.
Speaking of Rankin and Rowling, let me mention the Ian Parker profile of Rowling in the latest The New Yorker. The print issue isn’t out yet, but the article is featured at the top of their website now, freely available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. I’ve read only part of it, but it looks worthwhile. And it mentions Rankin in the opening paragraph:
Ian Rankin, the writer of Edinburgh-based crime novels, became friendly with Joanne Rowling when they were neighbors in another part of the city; he recently described her as “quite quiet, quite introspective.” He recalled urging Rowling to join him for an onstage interview at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, a few years ago. After Rowling watched Rankin being interviewed at a similar event, she told him, “I don’t think I can do that.” Rankin said, “I think she feels uncomfortable in a room full of adults. I’ve seen her in a room of kids, and she’s in her element.” Rankin noted that Rowling, in her writing, retains “the power of life and death over these characters.” She is wary “of situations you can’t always control—in the real world.
Two paragraphs later, we learn the reason for the November appearance of Standing in Another Man’s Grave.
In Britain, Ian Rankin typically publishes a new novel in October, and it tends to go to the top of the best-seller list. He said that, this year, his publisher moved the date to November, fearing that the late-September launch of [Rowling’s] “The Casual Vacancy” will, for weeks, render all other fiction invisible to readers and to the media. Rankin was taken aback but glad for the extra writing time.
Darn that Rowling. If not for her new book, I’d be re-acquainting myself with Rebus a month sooner. Well, I’ll be patient. I’m just glad we’ll meet soon.