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Book Nook: The Dark Remains: Laidlaw's First Case" by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin


Vick Mickunas' 2021 interview with Ian Rankin

The Scottish novelist Ian Rankin considered his fellow Scot William McIlvanney to be a mentor. When Rankin was just starting out on his writing career he met McIlvanney and over the course of the rest of McIlvanney's life they stayed in touch. After McIlvanney died his widow was going through her husband's papers and she found the notes he had been making as he worked on two more books featuring his Glasgow homicide cop Laidlaw.

The three original Laidlaw books were groundbreaking, they laid out a path for a literary movement in Scotland, for crime novelists like Ian Rankin, who write what is sometimes referred to as Tartan Noir.

After his notes were found McIlvanney's publisher contacted Rankin to inquire if he would be willing to examine those materials to see if there was enough there to possibly write any more Laidlaw novels. Rankin decided that there was just enough material to do so. In this interview Ian Rankin describes the challenges he faced in taking on this posthumous collaboration with an author he had so greatly admired. The book is a prequel and Rankin had to try to write it in the voice of William McIlvanney.

The result is "The Dark Remains: Laidlaw's First Case." Before I read it I went back and read the original three books. I don't expect anybody else to do that. But if you do so I can promise that you'll find the experience most rewarding. And then when you read "The Dark Remains: Laidlaw's First Case" you'll better understand the daunting task Rankin took on and the extraordinary way in which he handled it.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library, Clark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.