Eating Crow (sort of)
I finally yielded a couple of weeks back and bought an Ian Rankin novel. My former roommate from Montreal, the serious minded poet and literary critic, is a big fan of Rankin's writings - most of which are detective/crime stories. I have a thing about reading current writers, I don't. At least not typically. It took a friend of mine a year to goad me into reading "Neuromancer". I read it, loved it despite its literary deficiencies and consumed Gibson's other works in short order. That said I am very leery of books that are popular.
I tried reading popular novelists like Stephen King, John Grisham and Tom Clancey in the past and just put the books down never to return. Bad writing that sometimes gets made into decent films. I also tried reading one of Anne Rice's abominations, which I threw across the room and cursed at after getting only four pages in. My ex-roommate had told me that one of Rankin's books had been named after a Cure song, which instantly set off the warning bells. I had this image of darkcast, mopey alabaster skinned girls in spider-web dresses, wearing too much eye make-up and black lipstick pouring over Rankin's work. Rankin, in my mind, had become the Anne Rice of crime lit.
I have, however, bought a Rankin novel. I was killing time in the Chapters in Coquitlam. My Mom lives in Port Coquitlam and I was going over to her place to have dinner. I wanted something to read, but wasn't seeing anything that I wanted. There was no Graham Greene in stock and no copy of Orwell's Burmese Days to be had either. Walking past the sales table I saw copy of Rankin's spy novel, Watchman. I looked at it, read the back cover and took it to the counter. It might have been crap, but at $5.99 it wasn't a huge risk.
It isn't flawless by any means, but I have to say that I am fairly engrossed by the book. I have attempted to read some of the pulpier spy novels out there, but only succeeded in finishing Fleming's Casino Royale. (Len Deighton's The Ipcress File is unreadable, though the film is excellent) Watchman is not pulp, it is a fairly realistic look at the intelligence game. It is an interesting period piece as well. Set in 1986, it makes me realise how much I have come to take technological advances for granted.
And yes, it probably means that I will be eyeing up one of Rankin's Rebus novels sooner or later, though I would be more interested in reading any other spy novel he has out there.
In addendum - Rankin is also a Graham Greene fan, which is a big plus in my books. Greene's work is a favourite of mine.