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October 10, 2008
Doors Open: Ian Rankin
Doors Open: Ian Rankin. Orion Books 2008
Cover of Doors Open
One thing about being poorly is that you get a chance to read a few novels. I haven't read any Ian Rankin crime thrillers before and I must admit haven't visited this genre for a while but I'm only in the mood to read intelligently written but not too intllectually challenging material. I hav to say this recently released novel by Rankin fitted my bill precisely. Only a few pages in I could immdiately understand why he has become a celebrated author in the crime fiction world having won numerous prizes in recent years.
Many of his novels centre around Rebus who is a core detective creation of Rankin's however this book is a standalone one and nothing to do with the Rebus books.
The novel centres upon a complex heist initially organised by a bored ex-director of a successful software company which made him rich, a banker for High Net Worth clients and an Art Professor. The heist involves accessing the Scottish National Galleries Art collection that is kept in storage and substituting some fakes - a crime which nobody else will ever know about. The novel itslf developed out a New York Times serialisation from 2007 (see link below).
However things soon get more complicated than that and in the compact if not incestuous world of Edinburgh more and more people become drawn into the scheme. Rankin's Edinburgh in both its geographical and social sense is convincingly related by Rankin in a thoroughly enjoyable way. The general cultural world is nicely mapped out with nice little in jokes about films such as Reservoir Dogs and Trainspotting. The girlfriend of one of the protagonists works in an Arts Cinema and somebody else works for an art auctioneer's.
Rankin has researched Scottish artists as well. Utterson has a confusing status for the Independent claims that the artists involved are both real and imagined:
The paintings that his trio aim to lift come from both real and imaginary Scottish artists. Among the latter is a certain "Utterson" – the name of the friend who, in the classic tale of Scottish dualism that lurks around foggy tenement corners in much of Rankin's work, discovers the identity of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. (Independent see link below)
There is an Utterson though with a work in the Scottish National Gallery! Read the book and check out some more of the refrerences! It is a good read, the characters are believable and well contextualised. The plot gets increasingly more tortuous and twisted building to a good climax. It all goes to show that the best laid plans..... Overall strongly recommended if you like this genre and if you were already a Rankin fan I think you will be pleased by this post Rebus effort. Certainly I will be checking out some more of Rankin's work.
New York Times: Sunday serialisation of Doors Open