The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin
|The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A combination of two iconic authors produces a readable if not exceptional book. Cautiously recommended if you can bring yourself to care about the characters.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288/6h55m||Date: September 2021|
|External links: Author's website|
Bobby Carter was a lawyer and consigliere to one of the major crime families in nineteen seventies Glasgow. DC Jack Laidlaw is on the CID team charged with the investigation. I say on the team but Laidlaw never really seems to be a part of it. He does his own thing, goes his own way and The Dark Remains uncovers the truth of why Bobby Carter's body was found behind one of Glasgow's seedier pubs.
The original author of the Laidlaw series, William McIlvanney, died in 2015, leaving a hand-written manuscript which was about half of a prequel to the Laidlaw trilogy, fleshing out Laidlaw as a man and explaining why his marriage failed. Ian Rankin has picked up the baton and completed the novel. I'll confess that I'd never read any of the Laidlaw books and I decided to read The Dark Remains because I have a lot of respect for Rankin's unfussy books and I was intrigued to see how his writing would marry with McIlvanney's more poetic, flowery style. The marriage works rather better than I expected, mainly because Rankin does not attempt to replicate McIlvanney's style but allows his own to shine through.
Rankin's talent for characterisation comes to the fore and all the actors come across as individuals, which isn't easy when they're all much of a criminal muchness.
It's a good, if not particularly exciting, story particularly if you like novels about criminals being set against criminals and living perpetually on the edge of open warfare. Personally, I found it difficult to care about who had been killed or was likely to kill, particularly as much of the action takes place in police interviews which I found somewhat tedious and sometimes difficult to follow. The resolution was satisfying and clever. Did it tempt me to go on and read any of the original trilogy? I'm afraid not.
As well as reading the book, I listened to a download (which I bought myself) of the audiobook, narrated by Brian Cox. I found Cox to be occasionally hesitant but he managed to breathe individual life into the characters and I was never in any doubt about which of the protagonists was speaking.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. My expectations of the book were probably unreasonably high but I wish that I could have been more enthusiastic about it.
If you're looking for more about crime in the seventies in Glasgow, we can recommend Bobby March Will Live Forever (Harry McCoy) by Alan Parks.
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