Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin

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Title: Rather Be The Devil

Author: Ian Rankin

Genre: Crime

Publisher: Hachette

Published: 3rd November, 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 310

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: Some cases never leave you.

For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind. Murdered in her hotel room on the night a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there, Maria’s killer has never been found.

Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs. A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, and an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position. Has old-time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost, or is he biding his time until Edinburgh is once more ripe for the picking?

In a tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries, RATHER BE THE DEVIL showcases Rankin and Rebus at their unstoppable best.

~*~

ian-rankin-2In Rebus’ twenty-first outing, Rather Be The Devil, which marks thirty years since the misanthropic detective who investigates the dark underside of Edinburgh and the crimes it tries to conceal. In Rather Be The Devil, Rebus is retired, though rather unwillingly, and is haunted by an unsolved murder from forty years ago: Maria Turquand. Alongside this, a crime syndicate is trying to evade justice and capture. Naturally, a retired Rebus becomes embroiled in these cases, assisting his former colleagues as he grapples with health issues that he is hiding from those who care about him.

Told in third person, most scenes involve Rebus but there are a few that are seen from the perspective of another character, giving the reader insight into the world Rebus lives in. It is a world of history and darkness, in a city I have visited and could picture in my mind: Princes Street lined by old buildings, the Royal Mile and cobblestones leading up to Edinburgh Castle. Even the names of some of the surrounding areas of Leith were familiar. It is set in a place that has a varied history, an interesting one, that towers architecturally over Rebus and his colleagues as they uncover the unsavoury figures that seek to destroy lives.

Rather Be The Devil refers to events that have occurred in earlier books, and though some things may follow on from what has come before, they do not have a large impact on the story. Hints of what has made Rebus who he is made me want to find out more, so hopefully I can track down some more of the books but overall, I was able to follow the plot as a stand alone story.ian-rankin-2017a

It is a dark and gritty story, but not overly violent. Ian Rankin has taken a beautiful city and placed a gritty misanthrope within it, and contrasted the beauty of Edinburgh with the horror of crime and rankled Rebus, and this works well. The contrast allows for an ongoing story to be told, and for immersion in Edinburgh and the world of Rebus.

With an interesting character, and a mystery that refuses to be let go until it is solved, Rather Be The Devil marks the thirtieth anniversary of Rebus well. Fans new and old will enjoy this outing of Rebus.

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Ian Rankin will be appearing at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, held between the 22nd and the 28th of May. Appearances are:

Conversation: Ian Ranking – Rather Be The Devil, Saturday, 27th of May, 2017 7.30 – 8.30 PM at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/ian-rankin-rather-be-the-devil-parramatta/

Ian Rankin: Who Says Crime Doesn’t Pay?

Friday, 26th of May , 6.30-7.30 PM at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/ian-rankin-who-says-crime-doesnt-pay/

Special Event: SWF Gala – Origin Story

Wednesday , 24th of May, 2017 6pm to 7pm at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/swf-gala-origin-story/

Booktopia

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Title: King’s Cage  kings-cage

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

Published: 7th February 2017

Format: paperback

Pages: 512

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: The highly anticipated new novel from New York Times Number One bestselling author of Red Queen.

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal.

Now a king, Maven continues weaving his web in an attempt to maintain control over his country – and his prisoner.

As Mare remains trapped in the palace, the remnants of the Red Rebellion continue organising and expanding. As they prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows, Cal – the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart – will stop at nothing to bring her back.

In this breathless new novel from the bestselling author of the Red Queen series, blood will turn on blood and allegiances will be tested on every side. If the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

~*~

King’s Cage starts with Mare Barrow in the prison of Maven, and at the mercy of the Silvers. The third in the Red Queen series, it continues the story that began in Red Queen, of the battle between Reds and Silvers, and how the Newbloods – those with special abilities – fit into the war. The ongoing war, and forced conscription ahs led to rebellion and infiltration, with Mare’s undercover position in the castle where Maven lives now undone, with her in prison, and under the influence of Silent Stone to suppress her lightning powers, but also Maven, and his obsession with her, and with using her. Set in a dystopian world where magic and technology work together, and where royalty has replaced politicians, this series is gaining fire as it moves towards the war that is coming, and threatening their world.

Starting a series mid-way through is not something I ordinarily do, however, I am tempted to go and read the first two books now – to get the full story, even though I could understand what was going on and work out the characters. I did enjoy it – it was a different take on the fantasy/science fiction/dystopian stories and tropes that abound in Young Adult literature. As the rebellion works away, Mare must suffer the indignity of being paraded around as Maven’s pet to his court, and journey to collect his bride, and unite two Houses against the rebels. It is on this journey that everything Mare has feared comes to a head, and the world she knows, and the people she knows – her family, her friends, and Cal, Maven’s exiled brother – will never be the same again.

Being introduced to a series in the middle can be confusing – at first it was, which is why I hope to read the first two, and it is not something I recommend, however, I was sent a review copy, and at first, did not realise it was part of a series. That said, I did enjoy this – any romantic relationships were there but weren’t as important as the rebellion storyline, and uniting everyone against a common enemy. As a reader, I enjoyed this because they had just enough focus to be enjoyable and gain insight into the characters and motivations, and at the same time, didn’t take over what I saw as the more interesting aspects to the novel – the rebellion and coming together from various places to take on the other side.

Even though Mare is the main character, a few other characters get to tell their story – each chapter is told in first person, with the name at the top, making it easy to identify who is telling the story. Each voice is different too – with varying emotions and views that ensure each character’s chapter is identified easily from the others.

A great read for fans of the series, and Young Adult fans. I am looking forward to trying to get the first two as well.

Booktopia

RebusFest: Thirty Years of Ian Rankin and John Rebus – 1987-2017

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2017 marks the thirtieth anniversary of John Rebus in print. Rebus’s first outing, Knots and Crosses, came out in 1987, and his thirtieth adventure, Rather Be The Devil, came out on the third of November 2016, so keep an eye out for my review of this soon. To celebrate this anniversary, Edinburgh, Rebus’s hometown, will be hosting RebusFest – all things Rebus. It will be a festival of literature, music, art and film, and will be on between the 30th of June and the 2nd of July.

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Rather Be The Devil, published in November 2016 – thirtieth Rebus title

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This festival will give fans – old and new – the chance to explore the town Rebus lives in, and discover the story behind this iconic character of crime fiction in the modern world. When I read Rather Be The Devil, this will be my first Rankin novel, and my first outing with Rebus. Edinburgh is a great place to set a detective series – the old and new combine to create a world shrouded in mystery, set in the historic town, where shadows and mist hide crimes that a detective like Rebus can uncover.

Ian Rankin has curated the festival of music, talks about the historic and contemporary influences on Rebus – I am looking forward to discovering these as I read. Other activities at the festival include walking tours, screenings, food and drink, and experts, performers and artists, who will give more insight into the character of Rebus with Ian Rankin.

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Knots and Crosses, first published 1987

I look forward to reading my first Rebus novel, and hopefully will read more from there. The upcoming festival sounds like it will be exciting and a fabulous experience for readers of this series.

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The full festival line-up will be announced on the seventeenth of March, in just over a month’s time, so keep an eye out for that too if you are interested in going.

As well as RebusFest in Edinburgh, Ian Rankin will be touring Europe, North America, the Antipodes (Australia and New Zealand) and South East Asia.

Use one of these links to purchase the titles in Ian Rankin’s John Rebus series:

or

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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Title: Magpie Murders

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Orion/Hachette Australia

Published: 11th October 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She’s worked with the revered crime writer for years and his detective, Atticus Pünd, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It’s just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway…

But Conway’s latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript there lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.

From Sunday Times bestseller Anthony Horowitz comes Magpie Murders, his deliciously dark take on the cosy crime novel, brought bang- up-to-date with a fiendish modern twist.

~*~

With Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz delivers a novel within a novel, a mystery within a mystery. The novel begins with editor of Cloverleaf Books, Susan Ryeland, sitting down to read to read the latest from her company’s most popular author, Alan Conway, the ninth book in the Atticus Pünd series. Horowitz has included the manuscript for the reader to read along with the editor, Susan.

The first chunk of the book is dedicated to this manuscript, and as such, the pages are numbered unconventionally – going backwards once Susan has read what she has of the manuscript, sans the closing chapters that reveal the conclusion to the mystery. Conway’s mystery revolves around two deaths: Mary Blakiston, and her employer, Sir Magnus Pye. As Susan Ryeland settles in to read the story, and as I did, it was not evident that Susan’s life and the mystery of the missing pages would soon come to mirror the story she was reading.

Horowitz has taken the cosy crime genre, made popular by Agatha Christie and Poirot, who rate several mentions, along with television shows the author has worked on himself, and refreshed it. An amateur detective, following the trail of clues left from a manuscript, and interactions with people involved. Slowly, and
without extensive police involvement and technology, Susan’s story reaches a climax alongside that of the closing chapters of the mystery of Alan Conway, and the final chapters of his book.

Anthony Horowitz has written a work that is meta. That is, a creative work that is self-referential. It refers to the conventions of the cosy crime genre through the story Susan Ryeland is reading and the mystery she becomes embroiled in, and in making reference to television shows Horowitz himself has worked on and the imprint, Orion, Horowitz has referenced his own world of writing and the world of publishing.

This was a book that I wanted to devour and savour at the same time – the deaths are not seen on the page, but rather mentioned, both in the Conway story and the over-arching story by Horowitz, homage to the genre conventions. As the last few pages ticked over, everything fell into place. The detail, down to reviews for the fictional series by Alan Conway at the beginning of the manuscript, to Anthony Horowitz writing as himself and as a friend of Alan Conway, all make this a worthy read of any fan of the genre, or author.