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Best of the Book Nook: Exit Music by Ian Rankin


"Exit Music" by Ian Rankin was a pivotal book in his series that features Detective Inspector John Rebus. It was book #17 and Rebus was facing mandatory retirement from the Scottish Police. Thus, the title. Rankin was keeping his options open though. While Rebus is always aging in real time the author was considering ways that he might continue the series and he talked about those potential scenarios during this interview.

After this book came out Rankin started a new series that featured Malcolm Fox who worked for The Complaints, the Scottish version of what we would call the Department of Internal Affairs over here. If you are one of the millions of fans of these stories you already know that Rebus came back with his own books again after a brief hiatus and that Malcolm Fox has now become a major character in the Rebus series.

When an author is allowing fictional characters to age in real time it can create some issues. Once Rebus turned 60 and had to retire Ian Rankin had to figure out how to keep the series going, and he did. In the most recent book (2020) "A Song for the Dark Times," Rebus is showing his age. But he's still getting involved in murder investigations despite the best efforts of the police who are always trying to prevent him from nosing around in their cases. I hope that this series will continue for a long time but one has to wonder what Rebus will be doing when he becomes an octogenarian. I'm picturing him racing around in an electric wheelchair. James Lee Burke found a way to give his popular character Dave Robicheaux a new lease on life. The last three Robicheaux novels have been flashbacks to 20 years ago. Perhaps Ian Rankin might be taking that approach, too. I would love to read a few prequels with a really young John Rebus.

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.