Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review: Doors Open by Ian Rankin

Book #3 for the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge is Ian Rankin's Doors Open. Until now, I only knew the author by name. I'm pushing out of my comfort zone for this challenge and pulling out titles I might pass over normally. Happily, I wasn't disappointed this time around.

Like wtih The Alehouse Murders by Maureen Ash, Doors Open is a little slow at times with a quieter main character. But plenty happens, and almost worse is the anticipation throughout the entire story that bad things are coming. A relatively normal group of guys have tied up their fates with an Edinburgh gangster and you can bet things are going to go very, very wrong.

What I didn't bet on was liking the characters, especially the the main character, Mike Mackenzie. I don't know why but I went into this novel with the notion that I would hate the characters. I have no explanation for that but there we are. Thankfully, I was wrong. Mike is not what you'd expect for a rich bachelor in this type of novel. He's introverted, intelligent, and bored. I love the fact that boredom with a dose of off-beat sentiment drives him to participate - and ultimately take the lead - in a major art theft.

The whole concept of Doors Open is comfortable but tinkered with. Aspects of the story are a little cheesy and predictable but I really didn't mind. I stayed up late every night to read, and all I could think about the next day was getting back to reading. I finally finished it in the AM hours and just had to sit there for a while to digest. While I always need time between novels, I enjoyed just sitting back and thinking over this one. Part of it is the writer analyzing, and part of it is the reader absorbing.

Did I mention that the story is set in Edinburgh? I've never been to Edinburgh but I want to go now. Rankin makes you feel at home there even if you're all the way on the other side of the Atlantic. That's one thing I love about reading: discovering new places and cultures. This is a good example of a writer using a place he knows (and very, very well) and introducing it to a reader like me. (I'm now more interested in anything set in Scotland.) It's writing like this that has inspired me to make better use of my home state of Massachusetts and other areas I know well.

All in all, Doors Open is an entertaining book and I will definitely be reading more of Ian Rankin's works in the future.

What are your thoughts on Doors Open (or other works by Ian Rankin)? Any suggestions for similar titles?
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