I first met Ian Rankin in 1995, at the Nottingham Bouchercon, but by that time I had read and enjoyed several of his novels. In those days, he was living in France and his work was relatively little known. I remember picking up a first edition of his debut short story collection, A Good Hanging, in a gathering of remaindered hardbacks. A couple of quid then, perhaps one hundred now – if you can lay your hands on a copy. When I was asked to take over the editorship of the Crime Writers Association’s annual anthology, Ian was one of the first potential contributors I approached. He promptly obliged with the excellent ‘Herbert in Motion’ – written in a single day and I still recall with appreciation the enthusiastic encouragement he gave me after reading my fourth Harry Devlin novel, Yesterday’s Papers. Following its appearance in Perfectly Criminal, ‘Herbert in Motion’ became a worthy winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger. A few years later, he contributed an equally brilliant story to the CWA’s Golden Jubilee collection, Mysterious Pleasures.
The turning point in Ian’s career came with the publication of Black & Blue in 1997. The first edition had a very small print run, but the book took the Rebus series to fresh heights and from then on, he has never looked back. Ian shares my taste for pop music, and for borrowing titles from songs for crime novels. Hence the inscription to my copy of this terrific novel: ‘From one song title fan to another – long live the 60s!’ And it’s accompanied by his noughts and crosses doodle – a reference to the title of the first Rebus, Knots and Crosses.