Sunday 26 August 2012


Ian Rankin is classed as one of the leading British novelists in crime fiction – his Inspector Rebus novels in particular get rave reviews – but I have never read any of them. One of life's little mysteries. But I was keen to give him a go. This novel is post-Inspector Rebus but it is a crime novel and still set in Rankin's Edinburgh.

However, I started to read Open Doors having just finished Steig Larsson's trilogy: The girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc and this novel seemed tame in comparison, particularly the rather far-fetched plot of three friends who plan to stage a theft of art masterpieces. So, I put it to one side and read a Nora Roberts novel instead (reviewed in an earlier post).

But recently I decided to give it another go and I'm glad I did.

The three friends are Mike Mackenzie, a highly successful and extremely rich business man who is bored with his life and looking for a project to spice things up, Allen Cruickshank, a banker, and Robert Gissing,  head of Edinburgh's College of Art.

It is Gissing's idea to use counterfeit paintings to replace the originals stored in a warehouse during an Open Day to the public. Neither Mike nor Allan need much persuasion since they are interested in fine art and the idea of owning their own originals blind them to the fact that it's a highly risky enterprise which they can't carry out by themselves. They need not only a highly talented artist to paint the counterfeits but also professional gangsters to carry out the heist.

Gissing has such an artist in mind: Westie, who is one of his students. And Mike persuades Chib Calloway, a particularly brutal gangster, to provide the heavies and firearms.

And add to the mix Westie's vacuous girlfriend Alice, Laura Stanton, who is involved in the art world and (whoops, can't remember her name and I don't have the book any more) who Mike is particularly keen on, D.I. Hendricks who is in charge of the case after the heist has been successfully completed and his rival detective D.I. Ransome who is keen to to put caraway behind bars. And then, of course, is the ominous figure of Hate who has been sent to retrieve the money Calloway owes his boss.

I found the characterisation rather shallow but the plot did improve as the story unfolded and there were enough twists and turns to keep me wanting to read more. So I would say that this is a good read but not a particularly brilliant novel.

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