Even Dogs in the Wild, is the 20th novel in the successful Rebus series and is a great book club choice.

In his teens Ian Rankin devoured books borrowed from his local library in Fife. Amongst his favourites were A Clockwork Orange, The Godfather and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Later he immersed himself in the works of James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard. You will find some strains of them all in his acclaimed distinctive style with words and storytelling. He also enjoyed the works of his fellow compatriot Robert Louis Stevenson and used the Jekyll and Hyde story as a template for his first Rebus novel Knots and Crosses published in 1987. 

What’s the story?

Even Dogs in the Wild is the twentieth Rebus story. The Rebus novels are steeped in the splendour and squalor of Edinburgh and its brooding presence provides a wonderful background to all the stories. Rankin is quoted as recognising that; “The city’s haunted and violent past is all around you; it’s impossible to escape.”

He inhabits the dark reality of crime and justice, frequently weaving immorality into the lives of the most moral and finding morality in the midst of evil. He leads us deftly through the beauty and glory of Edinburgh into the underworld alleyways of violence and deceit. It becomes an enthralling journey.

“The characters’ relationships prove oddly moving, especially the uneasy father-­and-son bond between Rebus and Cafferty.” – NY Times

Rankin has been showered with Literary Awards from around the world and has received the OBE for his services to literature. His books have been translated into 26 languages. He, and Rebus, will keep important places in our literary history. 

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I always come back to Rebus knowing that he will be the same. That he will make promises that he knows he will not keep, and that from time to time he will hide himself away even from those that he most loves and trusts. He is so difficult to like, but you can’t help but admire and respect him despite his blemishes and his constant self deprecation. You are compelled to be inspired by his dedication and to be entranced by his commanding individuality.

He has friends and lovers and from time to time he will find respect and loyalty for and from those in the sordid world that he has spent his life fighting against. There are many who care for him, but his loneliness is profound.

“This taut, dark and expertly crafted tale has plenty to satisfy the most exacting Rebus fan.” – The Guardian

In Even Dogs in the Wild he is easily drawn from his retirement into the mysteries of inexplicable and unrelated murders. He goes to Ullapool in the north in search of a missing link and having found it, and dissolved it, then sets out along the jagged north coast to visit his only daughter and her only child.

His granddaughter is now two years old. He saw her in Inverness on the day after her birth and only once since. After a period of shyness she crawls to his feet and scrambles up his legs and stays contentedly in his lap.

Soon afterwards he climbs into his car to drive through the hours of solitude back to his cold Edinburgh flat. It soon emerges that much of the conflict in the streets is between Glasgow and Edinburgh gangsters. Even in crime these two cities are at war.

Watch Ian Rankin discuss his latest book (Image and video credit: Ian Rankin/Facebook)

There are no punches or bullets held back and the sophistication of street dirt will enthral you. Rebus unexpectedly finds himself protecting and defending his lifelong adversary Ger Cafferty the number 1 crime boss of Edinburgh. They know each other very well. They survive and succeed through shared experience and trust, but there are many shudders along the way.

The story begins to grip when it is slowly discovered that apparently unrelated deaths are retribution for grievous sexual exploitation by those in ‘very high places’ many years before.  

“Rebus returns and he’s lost none of his bite.” – The Independent

Ian’s final verdict

You will be captivated by Rebus, his cohorts and the many characters who live and die in this vibrant life of a city and its people and you will find that a kind of justice is done.


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This WYZA generation Scot was born in 1960 and had a number of unique jobs before become a best-selling crime writer including working as a grape-picker, a swineherd, a journalist for a hi-fi magazine, and a taxman. Ian Rankin has received an OBE for services to literature and lives in his home city of Edinburgh, with his wife and two sons. 

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