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Rankin, Ian - 'Doors Open'
Hardback: 272 pages (Sep. 2008) Publisher: Orion ISBN: 0752890700

So, this is Rankin's first post-Rebus novel, something I'd been looking forward to. But is it any good?

The plot concerns three friends, three art lovers who decide to liberate some of the art held in storage by the National Gallery in Edinburgh. The main character is Mike McKenzie, a millionaire with far too much time on his hands. He and his co-conspirators - an art professor and a banker, feel that art should be seen and not hidden in storage gathering dust and value. So they decide to take advantage of 'Doors Open', a scheme whereby lots of buildings round Edinburgh throw their doors open to the public for one day a year - including the warehouse where the National Gallery keep their excess paintings.

They're amateurs though, so they draft in local gangster, Chib Calloway for his expertise, little knowing what they were letting themselves in for.

Of course there's a policeman, DI Ransome, doggedly plugging away, a step behind our gallant art thieves. He works out of Rebus's old station and there's a remark about how the place is different now that he's gone. Nice touch.

So, is it any good? Well, it works on a plot level, keeping the tension through to the end, but I thought some of the characterisation was a little weak. I think maybe I had expected something a bit more profound, something with a bit more depth for this first post-Rebus book, and this doesn't deliver on that score. It's a good enough book, but it's not memorable. It's like Rankin-light - not quite as full-flavoured as the original. Perhaps I was just expecting too much. I've since read that this is a rewriting, a lengthening, of a piece originally serialised in the New York Times. So this was never intended to be that great post-Rebus belter I was expecting. And that, for me is a good thing - because it means I still have that to look forward to.

Pat Austin, England
September 2008

Pat blogs at
Mysterious Yarns.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 13/09/2009 09:30