Ranking Rankin

I’ve finally read the first book in Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series, Knots and Crosses. Paul had told me about the series when I was living in Edinburgh – the setting for most of the series – then a couple of years later, we watched a BBC documentary called Ian Rankin’s Hidden Edinburgh after which Paul reminded me again that I needed to read the books. Last Easter we had a conversation about it yet again and I promised him that I would order them and get to reading straight away. But a couple of weeks later Paul was gone and it didn’t seem important…

Well, I finally got around to ordering the books this Easter and I must say: Paul was right! I really did enjoy the first book and am looking forward to the rest of the series! I was very impressed with the small details Rankin gave to personality traits. Specifically, I am intrigued by the religious conflicts that Rebus has and am interested to see how his spiritual quest unfolds throughout subsequent books. I’m sure that as I continue reading, I will find more character conflicts that pique my interest.

There was one problem I’ve found with the book, and I’m not certain if I’ve read it wrong. Early on, Rankin describes Detective Inspector Jack Morton as 35 years old. On the next page, it is noted that Morton has been a policeman for two decades. Currently, one must be 18 years of age to sign up with the Lothian and Borders Police, the department for which Morton and Rebus work.

In fairness, the book was written in 1987, meaning that Morton would have signed up in 1967. I suppose that there is a possibility that in ’67 you could sign up at the age of 15 or it is possible that Morton began with a different department that allowed for younger recruits.

The other issue I have with the book is not one with the writing, but rather one with the translation editing. You see, I purchased a book that’s been (sort of) copy edited for an American audience. But the copy editor didn’t fully pay attention.

The words and sentence structure are British without a doubt, but much of the punctuation is done by American standards. I say much because there are several places where the editor missed the addition of the Oxford comma. Now, in America, different publishing houses opt to use – or not use – the troublesome little bit of punctuation. But its use (or not) is meant to be standardised throughout a publication. In this instance, it’s not. They’ve just thrown Oxford commas in willy-nilly. Very disappointing!

Anyhow, I have two more books in the series and have decided that I will order the next few from Amazon.co.uk so that I can get the original punctuation. After all, I am nearly fluent in British so it shouldn’t be a problem!

To summarise: Excellent start to what’s meant to be an excellent series. Next up: Hide and Seek.

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