Search Results for: label/john rebus

John Rebus: The Detective I Hate to Love – and Love to Hate

John Rebus is the literary detective I hate to love.

John Rebus: churlish, self-destructive … brilliant!

John Rebus returns in the 18th full novel featuring the difficult but successful Edinburgh detective.

I’ve been reading Ian Rankin’s John Rebus novels for close to a decade and have always had a love-hate relationship with this Edinburgh detective. I’m not alone. Rebus’s cynical, impulsive, abrasive, self-destructive ways can play like fingernails on a chalkboard, making it hard for all but a few of the other characters to tolerate, much less “like” John – (poor DS Siobhan Clarke, how does she put up with him?).

But despite Rebus’ expertly drawn flaws, the curmudgeon gets his hooks in you. And it becomes obvious, anyone who tries as hard as Rebus to prove he doesn’t care about anyone or anything has to be hiding something … like how much he cares.

When Rankin retired Rebus in Exit Music – the 17th Rebus novel – and introduced a new Edinburgh character (Malcolm Fox) in (and of) The Complaints (think Internal Affairs in U.S. police terms) – it felt like a huge loss. Rebus hadn’t run his course – and of course, Big Ger Cafferty, king of the Edinburgh underworld, was out of jail and needed someone to keep a careful – and obsessive – eye on him. There are lead characters that grow more and more weary with each passing novel – but Rebus was already worn out and washed up when we first met him. If the chain-smoking hadn’t killed him yet, why put him out to pasture?

Maybe Rankin planned for retirement to do to Rebus what Cafferty considered doing countless times but never did. (Grudging respect? A sense of kinship?) I also knew I’d miss the old school rock and roll or blues music suggestions. It’s always been a bonus to read through what’s on Rebus’ playlist in each novel, though he still favors his LPs with the comfortable hiss and pops between tracks over CDs or digital music (horrors!) for his late night melancholy as he looks out the window of his flat, a quickly disappearing bottle of Lagavulin at his side.

Standing In Another Man’s Grave was a fabulous vehicle to bring Rebus back where he belongs, in the middle of a bloody crime scene. Interestingly, I thought Rankin drew a bit much from a theme and process found in my least favorite Rebus novel, Fleshmarket Alley –  (Rebus took a strong and clear and moral political stance, which I thought was out of character – he normally couldn’t be bothered with what the bloody politicians were up to unless it was murder). But having him work as a civilian investigator on cold case files – including a missing person case that may have multiple and current connections – creates the conditions for a triumphant return – even if his boss wishes he would crawl back under a rock.

I would note that Rankin has done as good or better of a job keeping Rebus true to form as any series novelist. That’s why reviewing an individual book doesn’t seem as important to me as asking if Rebus is really back. Is he? He’s still loathed and feared by colleagues and criminals alike. He still won’t give you the time of day unless you have something he needs – then he has all the time in the world. He’s still the character I hate to love or love to hate most in my commercial crime reading. But even if he has one foot in the grave – or both in another man’s grave – he’s back, and that’s what matters.

John Rebus: The Literary Character I Hate to Love

Rude, churlish, obnoxious ... John Rebus is the literary detective I hate to love.

In Exit Music John Rebus retired – but Rankin brought him back. I assume it was due to fan outrage!

The literary character I hate to love – or love to hate – is Inspector John Rebus. Rude, arrogant, churlish – his brilliance in solving Edinburgh murder mysteries is matched only by his self destructive love for booze, cigarettes, and conflict with authority.

I’m a bit like those few who are close to him in Rankin’s novels – loyal and able to see past his coarse exterior – but always wondering what he will do next to get himself in trouble with the bosses – and drag me along with him!

In Exit Music, author Ian Rankin finally put Rebus into retirement and introduced a new series character in The Complaints. I can only assume fan reaction won the day as Rebus made his typically messy but triumphant return in Resurrection Men.

John Adams on America, Democracy, Morality, and More

John Adams brilliant insights on America, democracy, morality, and a wide range of issues and ideas deserve more attention than this almost forgotten – and recently rediscovered – Founding Father has sometimes received.

Our first vice president and second president was John Adams, who stepped out of the shadows of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and other Founding Fathers in the modern consciousness with the surprise bestselling biography by David McCullough and the HBO miniseries based on it.

Here are just a few quotes from the Massachusetts school teacher, lawyer, and politician – who went to Harvard to study for the ministry at his father’s encouragement – and the father of a political dynasty, including his son, John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the United States. But just a warning. Of all the Founding Fathers, perhaps none was more of a curmudgeon than Adams.

I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.

Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.

Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.

John Wooden – RIP

On June 4, 2010, John Wooden died a the age of 99 in Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was named by his peers as the greatest team sport coach in American sporting history. Humble, selfless, caring, he won 10 NCAA national championships – something he never talked about – as coach at UCLA.

He was a three-time All American at Purdue and won a national championship there as a player. He then coached high school and taught English for 11 years before entering the college ranks. During his tenure at UCLA, which began in 1948, he had four perfect seasons, had an 88-game winning streak, won 7 straight national championships, won 38 straight games in the NCAA tournament, was elected into the College Basketball Hall of Fame as both a coach and a player, and many other accomplishments.

But Wooden, a small-town country boy from Indiana never wavered in his values on the road to the bright lights of Tinseltown.

As a teacher, he began every basketball season by showing his players how to put their socks on the right way. He never talked to them about winning or losing; just living their lives with character. He designed a pyramid of success that he felt would make players victors not only on the court but in all of life. It included values like industriousness, loyalty, enthusiasm, initiative, alertness, poise, honesty, confidence, and other traits that were as much about being a good person as a good basketball player. As a coach, he didn’t bully, he didn’t cuss, he didn’t run the most sophisticated systems. “He was really more like a parent than a coach,” said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The theme he spoke of most is love and the great love his life was Nellie, his wife of 53 years. She was his first love and the only girl he ever kissed. After her death, he would sit down on the 21st of each month and write her a love letter that he would then leave on her pillow. Sports columnist Rick Reilly often asked him if he could use the letters as the basis of a book they could write together on making love last. Even decades after her death Wooden, with tears running down his cheeks, would say it was too recent and he needed more time

The Wizard of Westwood was an icon for coaches who are themselves icons. His players speak of him reverentially. Bill Walton said that some of Coach Wooden’s quotes and sayings – Woodenisms – that he snickered at as a player are the words he has on his walls and has taught his own children.

Just a sample of Woodenisms that will endure beyond his death are:

Ability is a poor man’s wealth.

Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

 Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. Courage is what counts.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.

 It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.

Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

John Wooden. RIP.

Confessions of a Book Reviewer

Confessions of a Book Reviewer is a guest blog, written by John Valeri, popular with thousands (and thousands) of writers and readers as a reviewer with the Hartford Books Examiner. Don’t miss John’s thoughts on spoilers and certain Amazon reviews – and his use of the word salacious! Thanks John!
John Valeri's reviews can be found online at Examiner.com.

John Valeri’s reviews can be found online at Examiner.com.

What Mark (probably) didn’t know when he ever so generously invited me to contribute a guest post on the topic of writing book reviews is that this month marks my sixth year of doing so as the Hartford Books Examiner for Examiner.com. Time flies when you’re having fun!

I have a confession to make: I am as daunted by the task of doing so now as I was when I first began. Maybe even more so. You see, I’ve built up a loyal readership through the years, and knowing that these folks might read a book (or not read it) based upon my opinion is … well, heady. While reading is typically a solitary endeavor—and a subjective one, too—I feel a certain responsibility to guide readers accordingly. [Read more…]