Tuesday, May 01, 2007

We Now Interrupt for a Moment’s Gushing

Wow! I’m not often blown away by individual issues of magazines (blame my cynicism on having edited a variety of slicks over the years), but the latest edition of Mystery Scene, with cover boy Ian Rankin, is chockfull of absolutely terrific stuff. Standouts include Steven Hockensmith’s feature on the enduring influence of Edgar Allan Poe (both as a stylist and as the star of recent crime novels); Elizabeth Foxwell’s short introduction to the PBS series Rosemary & Thyme; Art Taylor’s piece about “10 comic crime films,” paired with Donna Moore’s story about comic crime novels; Rap Sheet contributor Anthony Rainone’s look at hard-boiled and noir poetry; and Kevin Burton Smith’s retrospective on the late Richard S. Prather’s private-eye prose. Oh, and of course there’s that Rankin feature, by Oline Cogdill, in which the author (who this year is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first Inspector John Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses) is described as “bemused by the worldwide success of his Rebus stories.” Cogdill quotes her subject as saying:
I didn’t think they would be easy books to read if one wasn’t familiar with Scotland, Edinburgh, our humor, psychology and philosophy. What interests me is what a person in Idaho or Tokyo finds in the books. They may start reading thinking they know Scotland is tartan, whiskey, golf and just north of London. Or they have the Brigadoon notion of Scotland. But it is a real country with real problems.
Editor Kate Stine ought to frame this issue. It’s the closest to a cover-to-cover must-read I’ve seen come off her desk yet.

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Speaking of Knots & Crosses, in the new 20th-anniversary “Collector’s Edition” of that 1987 novel, I came across this introductory note by Rankin. He’s explaining the changes that have occurred in the series since its start, especially those concerning his protagonist, and writes:
One other thing about Rebus: he dies at the end [of Knots & Crosses]. Not in the final draft, obviously, but that was my original plan. If I’d stuck to it, I don’t know what I’d be doing now.
Am I the only one who didn’t realize that Rebus had been (thankfully) spared this execution?

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