Best known for his books about Detective Inspector John Rebus, Ian Rankin has written a suspenseful winner with The Complaints, our March Mystery of the Month. Starring Malcolm Fox, a member of the internal affairs department of the Edinburgh police force, BookPage's Whodunit columnist calls The Complaints "superb on every level."
Get to know Rankin a little better in his Q&A with BookPage—in which he shares his "words to live by," his proudest moment and more:
Name one book you think everyone should read (besides your own!).
The book everyone should read is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark—a perfect, short novel, in turn hilarious and terrifying.
How did you approach writing stand-alone novels after so many books with Detective Inspector John Rebus? Were you nervous about disappointing fans?
A lot of fans were sad to see Inspector Rebus retire, but I have enjoyed the challenge of presenting them with new characters and stories. The Complaints has been well received, which gives me hope that I continue to exist, even without my shadow twin!
Describe The Complaints in one sentence.
The Complaints: An internal affairs cop fights for his job and his sanity in a city on the edge of physical and moral bankrupcy.
Where do you write?
I write in a room in my house. The house is a large, Victorian-era property in a leafy suburb of Edinburgh. My office would have been one of the bedrooms. I have a desk, a sofa and a hi-fi system in there. That's about all I need.
What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
There have been many highlights, from the thrill of first publication, to (eventual) success, the Gold Dagger, Diamond Dagger and Edgar. But I was probably most pleased with a letter from the Queen. She intended to award me with the OBE (Officer of the British Empire) for "services to literature." It was proof that the mystery novel was regarded as literature—who am I to argue?
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you want it to be?
Not Rebus—we'd just fight. Maybe Molly Bloom from James Joyce's Ulysses—a fascinating, earthy, practical human being. I'm sure she'd have stories for the campfire.
What are your words to live by?
Words to live by? Words are my life—I love all of them equally.