Ian Rankin

Ian James Rankin OBE DL FRSE FRSL (born 28 April 1960) is a Scottish crime writer, best known for his Inspector Rebus novels.

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin in August 2007
BornIan James Rankin
(1960-04-28) 28 April 1960
Cardenden, Fife, Scotland
Pen nameJack Harvey
ResidenceEdinburgh, Scotland
GenreCrime fiction
Notable worksDI John Rebus novels
Malcolm Fox novels
Dark Entries
Miranda Harvey (m. 1986)

Early life

Rankin was born in Cardenden, Fife. His father, James, owned a grocery shop, and his mother, Isobel, worked in a school canteen.[2] He was educated at Beath High School, Cowdenbeath. His parents were horrified when he then chose to study literature at university, expecting him to study for a trade.[2] Encouraged by his English teacher, he persisted and graduated in 1982 from the University of Edinburgh, where he also worked on a doctorate on Muriel Spark but did not complete it.[3] He has taught at the university and retains an involvement with the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lived in Tottenham, London, for four years and then rural France for six while he developed his career as a novelist.[4] Before becoming a full-time novelist, he worked as a grape picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist, college secretary and punk musician in a band called the Dancing Pigs.[5][6][2]


Rankin did not set out to be a crime writer. He thought his first novels, Knots and Crosses and Hide and Seek, were mainstream books, more in keeping with the Scottish traditions of Robert Louis Stevenson and even Muriel Spark. He was disconcerted by their classification as genre fiction. The Scottish novelist Allan Massie, who tutored Rankin while Massie was writer-in-residence at the University of Edinburgh, reassured him by saying, "Do you think John Buchan ever worried about whether he was writing literature or not?"[7]

Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels are set mainly in Edinburgh. They are considered major contributions to the tartan noir genre. Ten of the novels were adapted as a television series on ITV, starring John Hannah as Rebus in series 1 and 2 and Ken Stott in that role in series 3–5.

In 2009, Rankin donated the short story "Fieldwork" to Oxfam's Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Rankin's story was published in the Earth collection.[8]

In 2009 Rankin stated on Radio Five Live that he would start work on a five- or six-issue run on the comic book Hellblazer, although he may turn the story into a stand-alone graphic novel instead. The Vertigo Comics panel at WonderCon 2009 confirmed that the story would be published as a graphic novel, Dark Entries, the second release from the company's Vertigo Crime imprint.[9][10][11]

In 2013, Rankin co-wrote the play Dark Road with Mark Thomson, the artistic director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre.[12][13] The play, which marked Rankin's play-writing debut,[14] premiered at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, in September 2013.[15]


Rankin is a regular contributor to the BBC Two arts programme Newsnight Review. His 3-part documentary series on the subject of evil was broadcast on Channel 4 in December 2002. In 2005 he presented a 30-minute documentary on BBC Four called Rankin on the Staircase, in which he investigated the relationship between real-life cases and crime fiction. It was loosely based on the Michael Peterson murder case, as covered in Jean-Xavier Lestrade's documentary series Death on the Staircase. The same year he collaborated with folk musician Jackie Leven on the album Jackie Leven Said.

In 2007, Rankin appeared in programmes for BBC Four exploring the origins of his alter-ego character, John Rebus. Titled "Ian Rankin's Hidden Edinburgh" and "Ian Rankin Investigates Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde," Rankin looks at the origins of the character and the events that led to his creation.

In the TV show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, he takes a trip through Edinburgh with writer/cook Anthony Bourdain.


Rankin is the singer in the six-piece band Best Picture, formed by journalists Kenny Farquharson (The Times) and Euan McColl (The Scotsman) in 2017, and featuring Bobby Bluebell on guitar.[16] They released a single "Isabelle" on Oriel Records in October 2017.[17] They made their live debut at the Kendal Calling music festival on 28 July 2018.[18]

Personal life

He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Miranda (née Harvey), whom he met at university and married in 1986, and their two sons: John Morgan "Jack" Harvey-Rankin (born 1992) and Christopher Connor "Kit" Harvey-Rankin (born 1994). They lived for a number of years in the Merchiston/Morningside area,[19] near the authors JK Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Kate Atkinson,[20] before moving to a penthouse flat in the former Royal Infirmary building in Quartermile.[21] The couple also own a house in Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands.[22] Rankin appears as a character in McCall Smith's 2004 novel, 44 Scotland Street.

In 2011 a group of ten book sculptures were deposited around Edinburgh as gifts to cultural institutions and the people of the city. Many of the sculptures made reference to the work of Rankin, and an eleventh sculpture was a personal gift to him.[23]

Awards and honours


To date, he has published 25 novels, two short story collections, one original graphic novel and one novella, and a non-fiction book. He has also written a Quick Reads title.

1986The Flood
1987Knots and Crosses1st Inspector Rebus novel
1991Hide and Seek2nd Inspector Rebus novel
1992Tooth and Nail3rd Inspector Rebus novel
Strip Jack4th Inspector Rebus novel
A Good Hanging and Other StoriesShort stories
1993Witch HuntWriting as Jack Harvey
The Black Book5th Inspector Rebus novel
1994Bleeding HeartsWriting as Jack Harvey
Mortal Causes6th Inspector Rebus novel
1995Blood HuntWriting as Jack Harvey
Let it Bleed7th Inspector Rebus novel
1997Black and Blue8th Inspector Rebus novel
won Macallan Gold Dagger for Fiction
Herbert in Motion & Other StoriesLimited edition chapbook with 4 stories, 2 original to this collection
1998The Hanging Garden9th Inspector Rebus novel
1999Dead Souls10th Inspector Rebus novel
2000Set in Darkness11th Inspector Rebus novel
2001The Falls12th Inspector Rebus novel
2002Resurrection Men13th Inspector Rebus novel
won The Edgar Award
Beggars BanquetShort stories
2003A Question of Blood14th Inspector Rebus novel
2004Fleshmarket Close15th Inspector Rebus novel
2005Rebus's Scotland: A Personal JourneyNon-Fiction
Awarded CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger
The Complete Short StoriesShort stories; omnibus including the contents of A Good Hanging & Other Stories and Beggar's Banquet plus one new story, Atonement
2006The Naming of the Dead16th Inspector Rebus novel
2007Exit Music17th Inspector Rebus novel
won ITV3 Crime Thriller Award
2008Doors Open
2009A Cool HeadQuick Reads 2009
The Complaints1st Malcolm Fox novel
Dark EntriesVertigo Crime featuring John Constantine
2011The Impossible Dead[43]2nd Malcolm Fox novel
2012Standing in Another Man's Grave[44]18th Inspector Rebus & 3rd Malcolm Fox novel
2013Saints of the Shadow Bible19th Inspector Rebus & 4th Malcolm Fox novel
2014Dark RoadStage play, with Mark Thomson
The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories Short stories
2015Even Dogs in the Wild20th Rebus & 5th Malcolm Fox novel
2016The Travelling CompanionLimited edition bibliomystery; No 26 in a series of short stories by crime writers Death Sentences
Rather Be the Devil21st Rebus & 6th Malcolm Fox novel
2018Rebus: Long ShadowsStage play, with Rona Munro (part of the Inspector Rebus series)
In A House of Lies22nd Rebus & 7th Malcolm Fox novel

Other publications

Edited anthology

  • Criminal Minded (2000) (edited and with an introduction by Rankin)


Graphic novels

Graphic novella

  • The Lie Factory, illustrated by Tim Truman. Published as part of a CD package, Kickback City, featuring Rory Gallagher songs fictionalized in the novella and with narration by Aidan Quinn


Short stories

  • "Summer Rites" (1984) (published in Cencrastus, No. 18 - actually a section of Rankin's first novel)
  • "An Afternoon" (1984) (published in New Writing Scotland No. 2) (slightly revised version published in OxCrimes, 2014)
  • "Voyeurism" (1985) (published in New Writing Scotland No. 3)
  • "Colony" (1986) (published in New Writing Scotland No. 4)
  • "Scarab" (1986) (published in Scottish Short Stories 1986)
  • "Territory" (1987) (published in Scottish Short Stories 1987)
  • "Remembrance" (1988) (published in Cencrastus, Spring)
  • "Playback" (1990) (Rebus; published in Winter's Crime 22; reprinted in A Good Hanging & Other Stories, 1992)
  • "Talk Show" (1991) (Rebus; published in Winter's Crimes 23)
  • "The Dean Curse" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "Being Frank" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "Concrete Evidence" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "Seeing Things" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "A Good Hanging" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "Tit for Tat" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "Not Provan" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "Sunday" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "Auld Lang Syne" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "The Gentlemen's Club" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "Monstrous Trumpet" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
  • "In the Frame" (1992) (Rebus; published in Winter's Crimes 24)
  • "Trip Trap" (1992) (Rebus; published in 1st Culprit)
  • "Marked for Death" (1992) (published in Constable New Crimes 1)
  • "Well Shot" (1993) (Rebus; published in 2nd Culprit; not included in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
  • "Video, Nasty" (1993) (published in Constable New Crimes 2)
  • "Castle Dangerous" (1993) (Rebus; published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, EQMM, October)
  • "Someone Got to Eddie" (1994) (published in 3rd Culprit)
  • "Facing the Music" (1994) (Rebus; published in Midwinter Mysteries 4)
  • "A Deep Hole" (1994) (published in London Noir)
  • "The Serpent's Back" (1995) (published in Midwinter Mysteries 5)
  • "Adventures in Babysitting" (1995) (published in No Alibi and in Master's Choice Two)
  • "Principles of Accounts" (1995) (published in EQMM, August)
  • "Window of Opportunity" (1995) (Rebus, published in EQMM, December)
  • "Natural Selection" (1996) (published in Fresh Blood)
  • "Herbert in Motion" (1996) (published in Perfectly Criminal)[26]
  • "The Wider Scheme" (1996) (published in EQMM, August)
  • "My Shopping Day" (1997) (Rebus; published in Herbert in Motion & Other Stories [limited edition chapbook of 200 copies]; not included in the UK edition of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories, but included in the U.S. edition)
  • "No. 79" (1997) (published in Herbert in Motion & Other Stories)
  • "Glimmer" (1998) (published in Blue Lightning)
  • "Unknown Pleasures" (1998) (published in Mean Time)
  • "Detective Novels: The Pact Between Authors and Readers" (1998) (article; published in The Writer, December)
  • "Death is Not the End" (1998) (novella later expanded into Dead Souls)
  • "The Missing" (1999) (published in Crime Wave, March)
  • "Get Shortie" (1999) (Rebus; published in Crime Wave 2, Deepest Red, June; not included in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
  • "The Acid Test" (1999) (Rebus; published in EQMM, August; not included in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
  • "The Hanged Man" (1999) (published in Something Wicked (UK) and EQMM, September/October)
  • "The Only True Comedian" (2000) (published in EQMM, February)
  • "Unlucky in Love, Unlucky at Cards" (2000) (published in EQMM, March)
  • "The Confession" (2000) (published in EQMM, June)
  • "The Slab Boys" (2000) (published in Scenes of Crime)
  • "No Sanity Clause" (2000) (Rebus; originally titled "Father Christmas's Revenge, published in The Daily Telegraph, December)
  • "Tell Me Who to Kill" (2003) (Rebus; published in Mysterious Pleasures)
  • "Saint Nicked" (2003/2004) (published in The Radio Times, 21 December 2003 & 4 January 2004)
  • "Soft Spot" (2005) (published in Dangerous Women)
  • "Showtime" (2005) (published in One City)
  • "Not Just another Saturday" (August 2005) (written for SNIP, a charity organisation; people in attendance of the event were provided with a "typescript" of the story)
  • "Atonement" (2005) (written for the anthology Complete Short Stories, which combined the contents of A Good Hanging & Other Stories and Beggar's Banquet, but was far from "Complete")
  • "Sinner: justified" (2006) (published in Superhumanatural)
  • "Graduation Day" (2006) (published in Murder in the Rough)
  • "Fieldwork" (2009) (published in Ox-Tales)[8]
  • "Penalty Clause" (2010) (Rebus; published in Mail on Sunday, December)
  • "The Very Last Drop" (2013) (Rebus; written to read aloud at an Edinburgh charity event to help the work of Royal Blind; published in the US and UK editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
  • "Dead and Buried" (2013) (Rebus; published with Saints of the Shadow Bible)
  • "In the Nick of Time" (2014) (Rebus; published in Face Off)
  • "The Passenger" (2014) (Rebus; published in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
  • "A Three-Pint Problem" (2014) (Rebus; published in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
  • "Cinders" (2015) (Rebus; published in the US edition of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
  • "The Travelling Companion" (2015) (novella, published by the Mysterious Bookshop, NYC; signed, lettered limited cloth edition of 26 copies and 100 numbered copies; softcover edition of 1,000 copies)
  • "Meet & Greet" (2015) (published in The Strand XLVI)
  • "The Kill Fee" (2015) (published in The New Statesman December 18, 2015—January 8, 2016)
  • "Cafferty's Day" (2016) (Rebus; published with Rather be the Devil)
  • "Charades" (2017) (Rebus; published in Country Life December 13/20)


  • "Oxford Bar" (2007) (Essay published in the anthology How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors)[47]
  • "John Rebus" (2007) (Mysterious Profile #8, a chapbook published by the Mysterious Bookshop in NYC in a signed limited hardcover edition of 100 copies and 1,000 softcover copies; reprinted in the UK edition of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories as "Rankin on Rebus")
  • Ian Rankin interviews Arthur Conan Doyle (2013), published in Dead Interviews[48]


  • Alegre, Sara Martin., "Aging in F(r)iendship: 'Big Ger' Cafferty and John Rebus", in Clues: A Journal of Detection 29.2 (2011): 73-82.
  • Horsley, Lee, The Noir Thriller (Houndmills & New York: Palgrave, 2001).
  • Lanchester, John, "Rebusworld", in London Review of Books 22.9 (27 April 2000), pp. 18–20.
  • Lennard, John, "Ian Rankin", in Jay Parini, ed., British Writers Supplement X (New York & London: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004), pp. 243–60
  • MacDonald, Erin E., "Ghosts and Skeletons: Metaphors of Guilty History in Ian Rankin's Rebus Series", in Clues: A Journal of Detection 30.2 (2012): 67-75.
  • Mandel, Ernest, Delightful Murder: A Social History of the Crime Story (Leichhardt, NSW, & London: Pluto Press, 1984).
  • Marshall, Rodney, Blurred Boundaries: Rankin's Rebus (Amazon, 2012)
  • Nicol, Christopher, "Ian Rankin's 'Black & Blue'", Scotnote No.24 (Glasgow: ASLS Publications, 2008)
  • Ogle, Tina, "Crime on Screen", in The Observer (London), 16 April 2000, Screen p. 8.
  • Plain, Gill, Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue (London & New York: Continuum, 2002)
  • Plain, Gillian, "Ian Rankin: A Bibliography", in Crime Time 28 (2002), pp. 16–20.
  • Robinson, David, "Mystery Man: In Search of the real Ian Rankin", in The Scotsman 10 March 2001, S2Weekend, pp. 1–4.
  • Rowland, Susan, "Gothic Crimes: A Literature of Terror and Horror", in From Agatha Christie to Ruth Rendell (Houndmills & New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 110–34.


  1. "Ian Rankin". Desert Island Discs. 6 November 2011. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. Sturgis, India (26 December 2015). "If I Could See Me Now... What Your Younger Self Would Make of you Today – Ian Rankin". The Daily Telegraph (Weekend supplement).
  3. "Ian Rankin 1960- Biography". BBC Two; Writing Scotland. September 2004. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  4. Rankin, I. (1998) Tooth & Nail. London: Orion. p. vii.
  5. "Profile: Ian Rankin", January Magazine
  6. "Ian Rankin", Bookslut, April 2005.
  7. Barnett, Laura (11 December 2012). "Ian Rankin, Author—Portrait of the Artist". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  8. "Ox-Tales". Oxfam.org.uk. Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  9. "WC: Vertigo - Innovative and Provocative". Comic Book Resources. 1 March 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
  10. "Starting Vertigo's Crime Line: Ian Rankin on Dark Entries". Newsarama. 25 March 2009.
  11. Duin, Steve (7 April 2009). "Ian Rankin vs. Brian Azzarello". The Oregonian.
  12. "Mark Thomson Discusses Dark Road, the First Play by Ian Rankin". list.co.uk. The List. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  13. "Lyceum Aims for Top Rankin with Dark Road". scotsman.com. The Scotsman. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  14. "Ian Rankin Turns His Pen from Rebus to Stage Play". heraldscotland.com. The Herald. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  15. "The Lyceum to Host Ian Rankin's Debut Play as Part of New Season". news.stv.tv. STV. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  16. Farquharson, Kenny (24 October 2017). "The six dads about to rock salute you". The Times. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  17. Ross, Peter (15 October 2017). "Rebus and roll: Ian Rankin's new gig as a 'dad rock' singer". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  18. "Best Picture - Kendal Calling". Kendal Calling. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  19. Williams-Akoto, Tessa (5 October 2005). "My Home: Ian Rankin, crime writer". The Independent. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  20. Mitchell, Hilary (10 May 2019). "Welcome to the 'Writer's Block' - spotlight on exclusive Edinburgh area after Ian Rankin sells house". Edinburgh Live. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  21. MacDonald, Stuart (10 May 2019). "Author Ian Rankin cashes in on Edinburgh mansion after £2.1 million sale". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  22. Reece, Alex. "My Coast: Ian Rankin". Coast Magazine. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  23. Scott, Chris. "Mysterious paper sculptures". Central Stn. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  24. "Ian Rankin". BooksfromScotland.com. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  25. "Ian Rankin". The British Council. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  26. "The CWA Short Story Dagger". Crime Writers Association. 5 July 2012. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  27. "The CWA Gold Dagger". Crime Writers Association. 5 July 2012. Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  28. THES Editorial (26 November 1999). "Glittering Prizes". The Times Higher Education Supplement. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  29. "University honour for award winning author". University of St Andrews. 3 February 2000. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  30. "University of Edinburgh Honorary Degrees 2002/03". University of Edinburgh. 28 August 2003. Archived from the original on 1 September 2012.
  31. "The Cartier Diamond Dagger". Crime Writers Association. 5 July 2012. Archived from the original on 3 December 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  32. "Doctor of the University 1973-2011" (PDF). The Open University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  33. (in French) Guide des Prix littéraires, online ed. Le Rayon du Polar. Synopsis of French prizes rewarding French and international crime literature, with lists of laureates for each Prize. Grand Prix de littérature policière: pp. 18-36.
  34. "The University of Hull awards Honorary Degrees for Inspirational Achievements". University of Hull. 27 January 2006. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  35. "Rankin gives hand to Edinburgh Award". The Herald. 19 February 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  36. Allen, Katie (6 October 2008). "Rankin and P D James pick up ITV3 awards". theBookseller.com. Archived from the original on 9 April 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2008.
  37. "Shortlist for Theakston's Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". digyorkshire.com. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  38. Alison Flood (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  39. "New Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh" (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  40. "Ian Rankin to be UEA visiting professor". University of East Anglia. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  41. "Current RSL Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  42. Natasha Onwuemezi, "Rankin, McDermid and Levy named new RSL fellows", The Bookseller, 7 June 2017.
  43. "Ian Rankin latest news, Exit Music, Ian Rankin Rebus novels, Doors Open novel, Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year, Galaxy British Book Awards". Ianrankin.net. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  44. "Rebus is back! Ian Rankin reveals his famous detective will return in new novel". Daily Record (Scotland). 5 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  45. "Ian Rankin Newsletter". Ianrankin.net. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  46. "Karen Berger On The Vertigo Crime Line". Newsarama.com. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  47. "Publication Listing for How I Write:The Secret Lives of Authors". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  48. Dan Crowe (editor) (2013). Dead Interviews: Living Writers Meet Dead Icons. Granta, London. pp. 143–153. ISBN 978-1-84708-827-7.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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