Ian Rankin

Arresting classics selected by a master of crime fiction.



Best known for his acclaimed Inspector Rebus series, Ian Rankin is a Scottish author of mystery novels who pens brooding police procedurals that upend convention and set pulses racing. His new book, The Impossible Dead, is the sequel to the bestselling The Complaints and features Inspector Malcolm Fox -- an Edinburgh cop tasked with investigating his colleagues. This week, Rankin points us to "the three books that I love." Enjoy!


Books by Ian Rankin



The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

By Muriel Spark


"This is a novel short on length but long on entertainment. It is witty, poetic, comic, but also raises large questions about morality and our place in the world. At its heart is the figure of Miss Brodie, a teacher in Edinburgh just before the outbreak of World War Two. She is larger than life and we, like her pupils, are likely to fall under her spell. But is she dangerous, a fantasist, or merely living her life vicariously through the girls she teaches? I've probably read this novel more than any other, and I keep coming back for more."



The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

By James Hogg


"Not a companion piece to Brodie exactly, but it is also set largely in Edinburgh and deals with characters who are not always what they seem. Robert, a zealous believer, meets a charismatic stranger who tells him that he is one of the 'elect' and so everything he does must be all right -- up to the act of murder. This odd and challenging book, first published in 1824, was an influence on Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde, and its themes of dualism and good versus evil continue to be played out in Scottish fiction (including my own) to this day."




By Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö


"This is where the current wave of Scandinavian crime fiction all started. The husband and wife team of Wahlöö and Sjöwall started their series of Stockholm-based police procedurals in 1965, and ended after ten terrific books charting the changing nature of Swedish society. Roseanna was the first. It still seems very modern, the prose crisp and clear, the crime nasty and portrayed with unflinching realism. The main detective, Martin Beck, is as humane a character as you'll find in mystery fiction, and hopefully like me you will want to spend more time with him. One of the truly great writing teams of world literature."

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Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.

Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet

Amara Lakhous delivers a mystery novel with its finger on the hot-button issues of today's Europe.  Immigration and multicultural conflicts erupt in the Italian city of Turin, as journalist Enzo Laganà looks to restore peace to his native burg.

Papers in the Wind

In this insightful novel by Eduardo Sacheri, a young girl left destitute by the death of her soccer-playing father is uplifted by the bold schemes of her uncle, his pals, and one newbie player to the professional leagues.