Well, I'm back from my holidays. It wasn't a classic reading break - it's difficult to read on the beach when one kid is hitting you over the head with a cricket bat asking to play and the other is pouring sand in your mouth because her own is already full, but I did get through some bits and pieces.
I really enjoyed Ed Lynskey's Dirt-Brown Derby, featuring PI Frank Johnson and a cast of Virginian characters that made me wonder whether that state isn't stuck somewhere between Victorian England and 1960s Alabama where divisions in class, servitude and eccentricity are not so much tolerated as openly encouraged. 30 pages in I wasn't sure this was a book for me but I really warmed to Johnson and all the weirdness, and I look forward to getting stuck into Lynskey's follow up, the Blue Cheer, which I have ordered today.
Tedy Bruschi's book about how he overcame a stroke to return to playing duty in the National Football League was also very enjoyable, and I plan to review that soon, as I do Nicola Monaghan's The Killing Jar.
But by good fortune, on my way out of the door on Saturday for a weekend away I picked up a book I've been hoarding for some time - The Riverman by Alex Gray. The author is one of a the growing band of Scottish crime writers to have been dubbed the new Rankin, or in this case, "doing for Glasgow what Rebus did for Edinburgh".
My timing was good because Ian Rankin - about to sign off from Rebus after 20 booze-fuelled, insubordinate years - himself was all over the newspapers over the weekend. First off he managed to get himself into either a storm-in-a-teacup row or massive spat with fellow Scot Val McDermid as he claimed that women wrote more violently than men (something I agree with - see Reichs, K; Slaughter, K, Cornwell, P etc etc), and that lesbian women mostly were the source of all this gore. (Something I have no opinion on not being privy to the sexuality of most of these women.)
Even before that row more or less blown over as a very good Sunday Times interview with Rankin cleared a couple of things up, a new story had started as Rankin said his wife had seen JK Rowling working on her Edinburgh crime novel in the same cafe she used to write her Harry Potter stuff.
If true, of course, that was the literary scoop of the decade. The world and his eleven year old kid is waiting to find out what JK does next, but as it turns out, Rankin was joking. But not before the story had gotten all aroubnd the world and various great minds had pronounced on how good Rowling might be as a crime fiction writer.
The heir to Rankin? Probably not. In fact he may not even need one. Although we know Rebus is about to retire, there are no guarantees that that is the end of him. And then what of Siobhan, or others in the dark places in Rankin's mind?
But if he does need one, it might be Alex Gray. I hadn't appreciated when I bought this book, or indeed when I started reading it, that this was number four in the DCI Lorimer and Dr Brightman series. I'm sorry to have missed the first three. The opening 50 pages of The River Man are utterly compelling. And I'm off home to read some more.