Ian Rankin – The Beat Goes On (#14 of 26)

I have a Ian Rankin novel (Let It Bleed) which has been lying with me for a while now but I somehow never got around to reading. Amazon has forever been pushing ‘And The Beat Goes On’ to me as something ‘I might like’ or under ‘this was bought by people who also bought something else which I happened to buy’. I was tempted but didn’t bite because there already was one of his works lying in wait for me. Until, there was some super sale and I got a 500 odd rupee book for a 100 odd rupees. As an Indian, I’d like to think that I know a good bargain when I see one so I latched on to the bait. And boy, am I glad.

Background for the uninitiated (as I was until a few months ago) – Ian Rankin is the author of the best-selling series of novels all based around the central protagonist Deputy Inspector Rebus (DI John Rebus), set in and around Edinburgh, Scotland – part of a genre which is now known as Scottish Noir.

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The Beat Goes On is a collection (a large collection at that) of short stories about Rebus from over the years – an omnibus of sorts. The wonderful part about the character is that he’s aged over the years as a normal person would do, when Rankin started writing about him in 1984 – he was a forty something detective, divorced and with a young daughter. Over the years he’s grown in rank, experience and curmudgeon-liness perhaps? Rebus is a fascinatingly normal character though – refreshingly free of any Hercule Poirot-ish behavioural quirks and Sherlock Holmes-ish genius. He has at best a discerning eye, a keen sense of intuition for who’s a bad penny and what’s wrong but at no point does he seem like superman which is what made him so endearing for me. His overall character is also well roundedly normal – a world weariness and cynicism towards his job, a love for music which goes deep into indie territory, an affinity for some drink with special mention for IPA, a platonic friendship with a junior detective.  And in a way an omnibus of stories like The Beat Goes On is the best way to see this transition over the ages – the adjusting to technology, time, age and the world around you in general.

A fine fine read, the perfect kind of book to curl around with a cup of tea on a Saturday evening. DI Rebus, you’ve got me hooked for your longer works.

Entertainment Quotient : ★★★★★
Education Quotient : ★★★★
Readability : ★★★★★

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