Authors: Ian Rankin
‘Rankin weaves his plot with a menacing ease … His prose is understated, yet his canvas of Scotland’s criminal underclass has a panoramic breadth. His ear for dialogue is as sharp as a switchblade. This is, quite simply, crime writing of the highest order’
‘A series that shows no signs of flagging … Assured, sympathetic to contemporary foibles, humanistic, this is more than just a police procedural as the character of Rebus grows in moral stature … Rankin is the head capo of the MacMafia’
‘Rankin has followed one success with another. Sardonic and assured, the novel has a powerful and well-paced narrative. What is striking is the way Rankin uses his laconic prose as a literary paint stripper, scouring away pretensions to reveal the unwholesome reality beneath’
‘Rankin strips Edinburgh’s polite façade to its gritty skeleton’
‘A teeming Ellroy-esque evocation of life at the sharp end in modern Scotland … Rankin is the finest Scottish crime writer to emerge since William McIIvanney’
‘Rebus resurgent … a brilliantly meshed plot which delivers on every count on its way to a conclusion as unexpected as it is inevitable. Eleventh in the series. Still making waves’
‘His fiction buzzes with energy … Essentially, he is a romantic storyteller in the tradition of Robert Louis Stevenson … His prose is as vivid and terse as the next man’s yet its flexibility and rhythm give it potential for lyrical expression which is distinctly Rankin’s own’
‘Top notch … the bleakness is unrelenting, but it quite suits Mr Rankin who does his best work in the dark’
‘The internal police politics and corruption in high places are both portrayed with bone-freezing accuracy. This novel should come with a wind-chill factor warning’
‘Detective Inspector Rebus makes the old-style detectives with their gentle or bookish backgrounds, Alleyn, Morse, Dalgliesh, look like wimps … Rankin is brilliant at conveying the genuine stench of seedy places on the dark side of Scotland’
‘It’s the banter and energy, the immense carnival of scenes and charaters, voices and moods that set Rankin apart. His stories are like a transmission forever in the red zone, at the edge of burnout. This is crime fiction at its best’
Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel,
Knots and Crosses
, was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into over thirty languages and are bestsellers worldwide.
Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005 and in 2009 was inducted into the CWA Hall of Fame. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar award for
. He has also been shortlisted for the Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark’s
Prize, the French
Grand Prix du Roman Noir
. Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Hull and the Open University.
A contributor to BBC2’s
, he also presented his own TV series,
Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts
. He has received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh. He has also recently been appointed to the rank of Deputy Lieutenant of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons. Visit his website at
I lived in London for four years, from 1986 to 1990, during which time my home was a maisonette in Tottenham, not far from the River Lea. When I left for France in the summer of 1990, some friends took on the maisonette. We kept in touch.
Tooth & Nail
was eventually published in the spring of 1992, only it wasn’t called
Tooth & Nail
; it was called
, the name of the serial killer who stalks the book. A few months after publication, my friends in Tottenham sent me a photo they’d taken of a subway between my old home and the river (where the first murder in the book takes place). The subway’s gloomy interior comprised white tiles, and on this surface, in six-foot-high black capitals, someone had painted the name ‘Wolfman’.
I keep the photo close at hand even now, to remind myself that there are some fans an author just doesn’t want to meet.
It was my editor in the USA who mentioned that
made my story sound like a horror novel, and it was his idea to rename the book
Tooth & Nail
for the American audience. The title seemed resonant, and chimed with my first two Rebus adventures. When my current publisher Orion got hold of the rights to the book, I persuaded them that it should become
Tooth & Nail
in the UK too.
The book is set in London, the only Rebus novel so far to take place outside Scotland. Basically, I wanted Rebus to be more of an outsider than ever. In London, he’s a fish out of water. He can’t begin to comprehend the city, doesn’t even know what a bagel is, and no one around him understands his accent and dialect (to such an extent that passages from the book have become teaching aids in some Scottish primary schools). In essence, I was using Rebus to explore my own feelings about the London I had known, just at a time when I was preparing to leave the place.
From the early 1970s until May 1990, I’d kept a page-a-day diary. For whatever reason, I stopped soon after arriving in France. However, an entry for 11 March that year reads: ‘I’ve started, half-heartedly, a new Rebus novel, though I know I should plan more and research more before I really get into it. It’s going to be called
, if it ever gets off the ground.’ I think some of the impetus for the book came from the spectacular success of the American author Thomas Harris. I’d spent a sleepless night reading
The Silence of the Lambs
from cover to cover. The man had a huge talent and sales to match, and I wanted some of the latter. The serial killer was in vogue and there seemed an endless fascination with the psychology and pathology of evil. It was fortunate for me that my editor, Euan Cameron, was not as easily seduced by trends. I remember that when I sent him the first version of the manuscript, he told me there was far too much sex and violence in the story and asked for cuts in both departments. I’d learned a valuable lesson: that the two can be suggested without having to show either in graphic and voyeuristic detail.
During my time in London, I’d served jury duty at the Old Bailey, a bizarre and unsatisfactory experience which was to provide me with an abundance of detail and anecdotes for the Old Bailey scenes in
Tooth & Nail
. The trial I’d attended had been full of farcical moments, starting with an arresting officer called De’Ath, a prosecutor who didn’t know the difference between 180° and 360°, and a juror who said, ‘I think he done it, but I don’t want him going to prison for it’, then voted Not Guilty, leading to the prisoner escaping sentence. (The police foul-up in the book which allows Tommy Watkiss to go free actually happened during my trial, but in real life no one noticed except we jurors.)
I took lots of notes about the Old Bailey – its interior layout; security issues; the route from the courtroom to the jury room – and was stopped one day by a security guard as I left the building. He asked to see my notes, seemed horrified by them, and tore them up in front of me. I thanked him and stepped outside, where I proceeded to write them all down again as he watched helplessly through a window.
Tooth & Nail
is notable for introducing the character of Morris Gerald Cafferty – aka ‘Big Ger’ – the gangster who runs Edinburgh. In this book, he has a cameo only, but it was enough to persuade me that I could do more with him. I also started to introduce Scottish words into the text, perhaps to ensure that I wouldn’t lose them entirely. After all, living in rural south-west France, I had few opportunities to say things like ‘wersh’ (meaning sour), ‘winching’ (going steady) and ‘hoolit’ (drunk). In time, some of these words would even start to creep into the Oxford English Dictionary, with the Rebus novels cited for reference.