Ian Rankin reflects on ‘weird year’ as he shares his cultural highlights of 2020 in end of year message to fans

For fans of Ian Rankin, the bestselling author’s annual end of year message has become as much a part of the festive season as bauble-filled trees and mince pies.
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Every December, the Fife-born, Edinburgh-based writer pings an email to his fans, in which he gives a summary of the year gone by and shares some of his cultural highlights.

As well as listing his favourite books and albums of 2020, Rankin also hinted that his most famous creation, Inspector John Rebus, could return in the near future.

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“It’s been great to see Dark Times earn so many warm words and plaudits,” wrote the 60-year-old, reflecting on his recently published 24th Inspector Rebus novel, A Song For The Dark Times. “Rebus not only perseveres but grows more interesting to me (and, I think, to readers) with each passing year.

Bestselling author Ian Rankin, pictured outside his favourite Edinburgh pub.Bestselling author Ian Rankin, pictured outside his favourite Edinburgh pub.
Bestselling author Ian Rankin, pictured outside his favourite Edinburgh pub.

"I very much doubt we’ve seen the last of him," he added. “Once the virus passes, he’ll be out there again, sticking his nose in where it’s not wanted and making trouble for himself and others.

“I don’t suppose we’d want him any other way.”

Before then, Rankin will complete The Dark Remains by the late William McIlvanney, an author best known as the godfather of “tartan noir” and for his much read Laidlaw detective books.

“I was approached by the estate of novelist William McIlvanney,” recalled Rankin. “Many of you will know that he was a huge early influence on me and on the creation of John Rebus.

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“At his death, Willie left behind copious notes and scenes for a fourth book in his Laidlaw series.

“A huge responsibility – I’ve never tried to capture another writer’s voice and world before – but what a thrill it was to walk alongside Jack Laidlaw through the streets of early-70s Glasgow, a city where poetry is as likely to break out as violence.

“The book is pretty much done. The people who’ve seen it thus far love it to bits. It’ll be published in the autumn of 2021, all being well.”

As for his cultural highlights of a year in which the entertainment industry was decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Rankin said: “It has been a weird year, of course. I’ve hardly seen any films. Record shops were closed for long periods. The last gig I attended was in March (Blanck Mass). As for pubs… let’s not even start.”

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Rankin revealed his favourite books of the year include Robert Webb’s first novel Come Again, Ragnar Jónasson’s The Mist and Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five.

“As I say, I didn’t get to see much at the cinema, but The Lighthouse (which I saw pre-lockdown) was amazing.

“And I wore a face mask between shutdowns to allow me into The Filmhouse to see Saint Maud.”

Finally, Rankin listed his Top 10 albums of the year.

They are as follows:

Isobel Campbell – There Is No Other

worriedaboutsatan – Time Lapse

Erland Cooper – Hether Blether

Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

Sparks – A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip

Andrew Wasylyk – Fugitive Light & Themes of Consolation

Colin Steele Quartet – Joni

A Certain Ratio – ACR Loco

Catherine Anne Davies and Bernard Butler – In Memory of My Feelings

Brian Eno – Film Music 1976–2020

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