The McIlvanney Prize is Bloody Scotland’s annual prize awarded to the best Scottish Crime book of the year. It provides Scottish crime writing with recognition and aims to raise the profile and prestige of the genre as a whole. Scottish roots are a must for competition applications: authors must either be born in Scotland, live there or set their books there. Crime fiction, non-fiction and anthologies of short crime stories are all eligible. The prize was renamed in memory of William McIlvanney, often described as the Godfather of Tartan Noir, in 2016.
For the second year in a row, I was honoured to be a reader for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize for #BloodyScotland.
This involves readers being sent 5 random books to read and score out of 10. The scores are all sent back to the team at Bloody Scotland and the long list is created from the top scorers. It is all done in secret and while some readers know other readers involved we agree not to discuss any of the books that we have read with each other, or with anyone else.
In the run up to #BloodyScotland I’ll be giving #pintsized reviews of the books I was allocated to read for this year’s long list.
Second on my list was “Rather Be The Devil” – Ian Rankin
What the blurb says:
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.
My pint-sized review:
A cleverly crafted and complex plot with a number of sub-plots based on a cold case. I found it pretty slow to start off and at times a little confusing trying to tie it all together in my head. However, it quickly picked up the pace and I loved the dry humour deployed by Ian through Rebus’ narrative. The sense of place created in the novel was an excellent portrayal of the darker side of Edinburgh. A myriad of characters and story lines felt slightly overpowering and muddling although they are all tied neatly together at the end.
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 was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into thirty-six languages and are bestsellers worldwide.
Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthorne 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. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Anthony Award in the USA, won Denmark’s Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and the Deutscher Krimipreis. Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Hull, the Open University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
A contributor to BBC2’s Newsnight Review, he also presented his own TV series, Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts. Rankin is a number one bestseller in the UK and has received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife and two sons.
You can buy the book by clicking the link below: