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Crime Fiction

The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney & Ian Rankin

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

the dark remains by ian rankinwilliam mcilvanney - The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney & Ian RankinThe Dark Remains Published by Canongate Books on September 2, 2021
ISBN: 9781838854126
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense, Crime, Mystery & Detective, Police Procedural, Private Investigators, General, Humor
Pages: 288
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Publisher, NetGalley
Buy on Amazon
five stars - The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney & Ian Rankin

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER 'Fantastic' Lee Child 'Absolutely brilliant' Mick Herron If the truth's in the shadows, get out of the light . . . Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he’s dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter’s left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow? DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes. William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw books changed the face of crime fiction. When he died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw’s first case. Now, Ian Rankin is back to finish what McIlvanney started. In The Dark Remains, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and Laidlaw’s relentless quest for truth.

The Dark Remains is undeniably authentic and a true testament to everything Glasgow was in the ’70s and ’80s.  I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the Laidlaw series by the late and great William McIlvanney but I will be rectifying that as soon as possible.  Gangland Glasgow and its brutal violence and its territorial wars, the tone was set and it was addictive as it was horrifying.  Ian Rankin had massive shoes to fill but he laced them up, took pen to paper, and paid homage to Scotland’s father of Tartan Noir. 

The Dark Remains is just that, dark.  It doesn’t pull any punches, it doesn’t pretty anything up, it is just straight up potent.  Bobby Carter, a notorious lawyer operating under Cam Colvin’s gang is found dead behind a bar on the rival gang’s turf.  This discovery is going to cause an all-out war between the rivals, tearing down the streets of Glasgow and all that stand in their way.  DC Laidlaw and DS Lilley have to find who the perpetrator is before everything goes to hell in a handbasket.  I liked these two as an investigating duo, Laidlaw isn’t particularly likable but his sense of humour drew me to him like a moth to the flame.

The story portrayed Glasgow as a sentient being, the feeling that all is being watched, nothing goes unnoticed, nothing is left to chance.  It never forgets.  DC Laidlaw is a bit of a loose cannon.  He doesn’t dance to the beat of anyone’s drum but his own.  He has the measure of his superior officer, DI Milligan.  He’s blindly ambitious but sleekit.  He won’t think twice about bending the rules to serve his sense of entitlement.  He can’t keep tabs on DC Laidlaw, a man that stops at nothing to get his man – even staying in a hotel for the duration of the case leaving his unhappy wife, Ena, and their three children, he’s a one-man-band.

McIllvaney’s view of Glasgow is unapologetic.  The sectarianism, misogyny, and street politics are everywhere you turn.  DC Laidlaw is a hindrance in DI Milligan making his name and cracking this case, and he doesn’t want him preceding him.  Laidlaw is frustrated with the door-to-door house calls that Milligan would have him carry out, so decides to think outside the box.  He reexamines the bystanders, who are not immediately obvious, and puts the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle that has pieces scattered throughout the dingy streets of Glasgow. 

The Dark Remains is an uncompleted novel by McIlvanney handed over to the publishers and Ian Rankin being asked to complete it.  It was an effortless read, you certainly couldn’t tell where one author’s writing finished and one commenced.  It is an honest and sincere last hurrah to one of Scotland’s greats.  Any crime fan will be in their element.


William McIlvanney 005 cropped scaled - The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney & Ian Rankin

William McIlvanney (25 November 1936 – 5 December 2015) was a Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet.[1] He was known as Gus by friends and acquaintances.[2] McIlvanney was a champion of gritty yet poetic literature; his works LaidlawThe Papers of Tony Veitch, and Walking Wounded are all known for their portrayal of Glasgow in the 1970s. He is regarded as “the father of Tartan Noir” and as Scotland’s Camus.[3]

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Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature.

After university and before his success with his Rebus novels, Ian had a number of jobs including working as a grape-picker, a swineherd, a journalist for a hi-fi magazine, and a taxman. Following his marriage in 1986, he lived briefly in London where he worked at the National Folktale Centre, followed by a short time living in France, before returning to Edinburgh.

Ian’s first novel Summer Rites remains in his bottom drawer, but his second novel, The Flood, was published in 1986, while his first Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses, was published in 1987. The Rebus series is now translated into twenty-two languages and the books are bestsellers on several continents. In addition to his Rebus and Malcolm Fox novels, he has also written standalone novels including Doors Open, which was televised in 2012, short stories, a graphic novel – Dark Entries – and a play (with Mark Thomson, the Royal Lyceum Theatre’s Artistic Director) Dark Road, which premiered at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, in September 2013. A second play, Long Shadows, starring John Rebus, was co-written with Rona Munro and staged in 2018. There are also a number of novels under the pseudonym ‘Jack Harvey’ and in 2005 he collaborated with singer Jackie Leven on a CD. His non-fiction book Rebus’s Scotland was published in 2005.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark’s Palle Rosenkrantz prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and Germany’s Deutscher Krimipreis.

Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Hull, Abertay, St Andrews and Edinburgh as well as The Open University. In 2019, he donated his archive of over 50 boxes of manuscripts, letters and paperwork to the National Library of Scotland.

A regular contributor to BBC2’s Newsnight Review, he also presented his own TV series, Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts on Channel 4 in 2002 and Rankin on the Staircase for BBC Four in 2005. In 2007, Rankin appeared in Ian Rankin’s Hidden Edinburgh and Ian Rankin Investigates Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde also for BBC Four. Ian has been the subject of ITV’s South Bank Show and BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs where his choice of music included Joy Division, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison.

Ian has received an OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife and two sons.1988 Elected Hawthornden Fellow
1991 Chandler-Fulbright Award
1994 CWA Short Story Dagger for A Deep Hole
1996 CWA Short Story Dagger for Herbert in Motion in Perfectly Criminal
1997 CWA Gold Dagger for Fiction for Black and Blue
1999 University of Abertay Dundee honorary doctorate
2000 University of St Andrews honorary doctorate
2000 Palle Rosencrantz prize (Denmark)
2002 OBE for services to literature
2003 University of Edinburgh honorary doctorate
2003 Whodunnit Prize (Finland)
2003 Grand Prix du Roman Noir (France)
2004 Edgar Award for Resurrection Men
2005 CWA Lifetime Achievement Award (Cartier Diamond Dagger)
2005 The Open University honorary doctorate
2005 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (France) for Set in Darkness
2005 Deutscher Krimipreis (Germany), for Resurrection Men
2006 University of Hull honorary doctorate
2008 ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Author of the Year, for Exit Music
2012 Specsavers National Book Award, Outstanding Achievement
2015 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh2016 RBA Prize for Crime Writing for Even Dogs in the Wild2016 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature2019 Ian donates his archive to the National Library of Scotland2019 Double award win at the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards: Best Mystery and Best Crime Novel for In A House of Lies

five stars - The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney & Ian Rankin

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