I think it was this series, 5 Paintings in Edinburgh That Might Make Ian Rankin Pull Off A Heist, on the Reagan Arthur Books Blog that finally pushed me to track down a copy of his book and give it to read. Though normally not a seasonal reader, late summer and fall have seem me gravitate toward classic scary tales and mysteries.
Summing up Doors Open is relatively easy. Three unlikely art thieves and friends -a bored wealthy former computer guy, banker, and art professor- decide to “liberate” some unfortunate paintings whose beauty the world never gets to experience because they are locked away from the public in vaults. Their premise for doing good with these thefts is so super flimsy that I have no idea how even they themselves found it plausible. Get real guys, you were just bored and greedy. If you steal the paintings and agree to never show them to anyone or to never let them surface on the open market, no one else gets a chance to see them anyway! Little do they know that a chance rekindled acquaintance of one of their group has already put them in the sights of an Inspector determined to bring down a criminal enterprise.
Doors Open is an interesting choice for me because it’s basically a heist/detective novel with strong elements of the mysterious at play, but it was one that I thoroughly enjoyed and was entertained by. Rankin starts the book with a scene that leaves you with no doubt that everything has already gone terribly wrong- lives are at stake. I spent all my time wondering how it had gotten to that point and of course how the situation would resolve itself, favorably, for the characters I had come to care about. And care about them I did, in spite of the fact that we have already established them as delusional, greedy and needing to go to jail. Alas, I didn’t want that for all of them initially.
Rankin does a good job of exploring how the men take to their walk on the wild side. One becomes flush with the type of power that he has never experienced but has secretly coveted, while another realizes that he has quite probably bitten off more than he can chew. As they changed my feelings for them became more mixed, but still I didn’t want all of them to go to jail! Bad me. I did feel a little for the Inspector chasing them, but there was also something a little unsavory about him whether he was trying to do the right thing or not.
Ian Rankin is widely known for his Inspector Rebus series, which I am glad that I haven’t read, yet! I got to enjoy this standalone without having any pesky comparisons to make or feelings of disappointment over it falling short of anything that I was used to. I wasn’t terribly surprised by anything that happened here, but I enjoyed it all the same.
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