Ian Rankin: Inspector Rebus will outlast me

The bestselling crime writer has hinted that he would be happy for another author to continue the Inspector Rebus series

Ian Rankin, author of 'In a House of Lies'
Ian Rankin, author of 'In a House of Lies'

Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin believes that Inspector Rebus, the Edinburgh-based maverick cop at the heart of many of his novels, will “outlast” him.

Speaking at the Emirates Festival of Literature, Rankin also hinted that, after his death, he would be happy for another author to continue writing Inspector Rebus novels.

“After I’m gone, somebody might come along and say, ‘I’ve got a great idea for a Rebus book’,” said Rankin. “And I’m sure my son, who will be my literary executor, will go, ‘Give me the cash, let’s talk.’ He won’t be shy about that.

“Rebus will outlast me potentially. You talk about him dying but no fictional character dies. We’re still getting Sherlock Holmes stories after all these years. We’re still getting Inspector Morse stories, though the author is long dead. Hercule Poirot keeps popping up.”

Despite this, Rankin, who was in Dubai to speak about his 23rd Inspector Rebus novel, In a House of Lies, did not rule out killing the detective off. “I don’t have an end game in mind,” he said. “When I start writing a book, I’m never sure if Rebus will be alive or dead at the end. The story will tell me that as I go on. Potentially every book could be the final book.”

Ian Rankin's latest Inspector Rebus novel, 'In a House of Lies'
Ian Rankin's latest Inspector Rebus novel, 'In a House of Lies'

If anything does get Rebus, though, it is likely to be ill health, rather than an Edinburgh gangster. In Rankin’s latest novel, Rebus has developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema. “I quite like the idea of Rebus having a disease, which includes the word ‘cop’,” said Rankin.

Rebus’ deteriorating health is something we can blame on Rankin’s wife. “Rebus has now got health issues and that’s my wife’s fault,” joked Rankin. “She said to me one day, ‘Rebus has had a really easy ride health wise. He drinks, he smokes, he eats fried food, he takes no exercise. Surely his health has got to catch up with him?’

“She introduced me to a friend of hers who is a doctor and we sat down and discussed what horrible, terrible things could be happening to Rebus if he was a real person and we decided on COPD. It is something that makes him realise he’s not superhuman, he’s not going to live forever. But if he makes some lifestyle changes, he will have a longer life.”

Rankin, whose has sold more than 30 million novels worldwide, also confirmed that a new Rebus television series is imminent. “There is a Rebus adaptation potentially coming next year,” said Rankin. “A screen writer has written two hours of what he sees as being a six or eight-hour series, taking plots from a couple of books and blending them. He’s a great screenwriter, he’s done film and stage drama and I trust him. I’ve read the two-hour pilot and I think it’s great.”

A number of Rankin’s novels have previously been adapted for the screen. Ken Stott played Rebus in the popular ITV series that ran from 2000 to 2007. Rankin, however, said that an actor had not yet been approached to play Rebus in the upcoming series.

For more information and tickets, visit www.emirateslitfest.com

Published: March 8, 2019 12:47 PM


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