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British crime fiction used to be so quaint. You had your grannies and your eccentric gents - we're looking at you Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes - solving murders ever-so politely.
And then along came Ian Rankin.
With his Inspector Rebus character, he rewrote the rules of mysteries. For one thing, he was Scottish; for another, he was a bit of a maverick - both of which Ian could relate to. He grew up in Cardenden, Fife, in a rough coal-mining town. He wrote poems and short stories in secret, idolizing rebels like The Rolling Stones, whose music would wind up in his books, in a way. Ian was the first in his family to go to university, studying literature at the University of Edinburgh. He fell in love with the darker side of the city, which would later practically become a sidekick for his famous detective. While working on his PhD, Ian got distracted by his own writing, and the first Rebus novel, 'Knots and Crosses', came out in 1987. Twenty books later, Ian's the best-selling crime author in the UK and his work has even been turned into a TV show.
The success hasn't come easy, however; Ian's mum died early and his second son has a rare developmental disability. But writing has always been like therapy, an escape. In his latest books, 'The Complaints' and 'The Impossible Dead', Ian's branched out with a new anti-hero: Malcolm Fox, a cop so tough he polices the police. Rebus may have retired, but Ian is still on the case.