Doors Open is Ian Rakin’s first novel since he ‘retired’ Rebus in Exit Music and if Rebus fans were expecting a new detective to begin anther series of novels, then Rankin has surprised them. Firstly, Doors Open is a crime novel, rather than a murder novel and, whilst a new dtective, in the shape of D I Ransome, is introduced to us, he takes somewht of a backseat in proceedings. The central character is instead a dot com millionaire, Mike MacKenzie (an unlikely hero for Rankin, one would have thought), who finds himself forming an unlikely band of crooks with a soon-to-be-retired professor of art and a private banker. Together tey are intent on stealing works of art from the arcives of the Scottish National At Gallery. Once the reader has overcome this raher unbelievable scenario (which lends the novel an element of Ealing comedy) then the rest of the story is realtively understated and entirely credible. Before long the threesome recruit a local gangster to their scheme, introducing some real edge (and violence) to the narrative.
The novel is divided into two halves – the first half in which the heist is plotted and executed, and the second half in which the whole thing starts to unravel, proverbial pigeons come home to roost and the general nastiness begins. With Doors Open Rankin has not fallen into the trap of trying to replace Rebus, but instead gives us more of a yarn, told with his usual wit, pace and flair. There is one oblique reference to Rebus in the book – just to remind us that this world is the same world. In time we might begin to recategorise the Rebus books as being part of a larger collection of work from Rankin – his Edingurgh novels.