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The Dark Remains by Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney

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The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin

This novel was one of the publishing events of 2021. Ian Rankin has completed William McIlvanney’s unfinished manuscript of a prequel to the Laidlaw trilogy – the series credited with establishing the Tartan noir subgenre. (If you’re new to Laidlaw, you can read more about him here.)

The Dark Remains opens in 1972 and Laidlaw is just a detective constable. He’s got a new job, a boss he hates and his own theories on the murder of a local gangster’s fixer found dead on another villain’s turf. If the killer isn’t found quickly, war between the gangs could break out. 

The Dark Remains comes highly recommended and you can read our full review here.

Join our CFL Book Club discussion…

If you’ve read it, leave a reply in the comments below to let us know what you thought of it and/or answer some of our CFL Book Club questions:

1 – On the evidence here, do you think it’s a good idea for an author to take on the work of another writer?

2 – How well do you think Ian Rankin adapted to the character of Laidlaw, the landscape, poetry and politics of the original trilogy?

3 – How much of Ian Rankin comes out in the finished novel, and in what ways is the book not like a William McIlvanney crime novel?

4 – For you personally, what is unique about Tartan noir and how well does this novel fit into that tradition?


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