Third degree: Ian Rankin

Ken Stott as Rebus with Claire Price as Siobhan Clarke

WE’VE dragged one of Britain’s major crime practitioners in for questioning. Multi-award-winning Ian Rankin is the creator of Edinburgh detective inspector John Rebus, the tenacious but chippy hero of bestsellers such as Black and Blue, Fleshmarket Close and Resurrection Men. The character was turned into a series by STV with first John Hannah and then Ken Stott portraying him. ITV filmed Rankin’s standalone novel Doors Open in 2012. After retiring Rebus in Exit Music, he introduced his readers to Malcolm Fox in The Complaints, before bringing Rebus back in 2012’s Standing in Another Man’s Grave.

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?

Edge of Darkness.

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?

Hill Street Blues.

Do you watch much TV these days, and if you do, which crime series are you enjoying?

I don’t watch much TV. Other media seem to get in the way. I find myself stockpiling DVD box sets for that elusive rainy day.

All-time top TV cop?

Top TV cop has to be Jack Regan. No, wait – Columbo. Or Jane Tennison…

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
I’d love to see Adrian McKinty’s Troubles-era Northern Ireland books on TV or film.

Rebus has already been filmed by ITV, but what about Malcolm Fox? Which actor would be good playing him?

I never have a clear idea of my main characters’ faces and physiques so it’s hard for me to say who
the perfect actor would be. Sean Connery once told me that if he’d been 20 years younger he’d have jumped at the chance to play Rebus.

Least favourite cop show/thriller?

I thought TV made a right hash of Liza Cody’s terrific Anna Lee books.

Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?

The Sopranos probably edges it, despite the ending.

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?

Never a huge fan of Agatha. So it has to be Sherlock. I was very impressed by the modern reworking of the character and stories.

Wallander – BBC or the Swedish version?

Ooh, tough. Branagh is always watchable, even when not doing very much. But I have to plump for the original, don’t I?

US or British television crime dramas?

Robbie Coltrane as Cracker

I like both, but I’m feeling patriotic, so I’ll say UK. Prime Suspect, Life on Mars, Cracker – all British, all class.

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?

To be comprehensive, it would be a very long list. It would include Ruth Rendell, Lawrence Block, Leo Malet, Michael Connelly, but also Pascal Garnier (who I’ve just discovered), etc etc…

Have you read a crime novel that’s really knocked you out lately?

Pascal Garnier’s The Islanders. Is it crime? Psychological suspense? His books are like non-Maigret Simenon novels.

Favourite non-crime/thriller author?

Again, there are so many: Muriel Spark, Thomas Pynchon, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson…

Favourite crime movie or thriller?

The Third Man. Or The Godfather. Or The Maltese Falcon. Maybe The Long Good Friday. Or Get Carter…

You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective/sleuth would you want to call up?

It would have to be Rebus. He knows the territory and has a pretty solid record.

Ian’s latest Rebus novel is Saints of the Shadow Bible, which is out now in paperback. For all the latest on him, check out ianrankin.net

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