Greetings! As it states in the “About,” I decided that one of the ways to keep myself sane for the remainder of my grad school career was to do a blog about books, which I love, and drinking, which I also love only more moderately (this is probably healthy). I went from inspiration to putting on the coffee, pulling up WordPress, and sitting down with my trusty laptop Dax in the space of 5 minutes, so it’s not as if I thought this through carefully. So we will see what happens.
I know this isn’t a brand new idea (a quick Google turned up a number of other lists of books-and-booze, mostly from 2011 for some reason. What was going on that year?). However, I am doing this reading challenge so it’s going to be an interesting assortment of books, which will lead in turn to an interesting assortment of drinks.
So! That’s taken care of, let’s move on to the books.
The Beat Goes On by Ian Rankin
My first book of the New Year fulfilled the “A Murder Mystery” item on the challenge. It’s a collection of short stories featuring Rankin’s detective John Rebus, who has so far been the focus of 20 novels. I’ve read probably half of the novels, which are largely dark, intense, and feature an abrupt denouement. They are set in Scotland, in Edinburgh for the most part but with side trips from time to time. Rebus is the central character and boy, is he ever central: he’s kind of a selfish bastard, but you do feel for him. Everyone around him gets frustrated with him, even his colleague (or protegee, depending on which book you’re reading) Siobhan Clarke.
The novels are extremely engaging, or at least I find them that way. They want to be devoured in one sitting, which is difficult because they also tend to be in the 350-400 page range. The short stories are also engaging, and the good news is that they can in fact be finished fairly quickly. There are TWO featuring Santa Claus (I can only assume written originally for inclusion in some kind of mystery holiday anthology) and one that occurs at Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve. The New Year’s Eve story, “Auld Lang Syne,” is for me the best of the bunch, perfectly paced and – well, atmospheric, although I hate to use the word. Some of the stories are on the lighter side for Rebus, such as “Monstrous Trumpet” (which I liked in spite of its flirtation with Straw Feminism). Overall, I enjoyed the whole thing, which I can’t say about many short story collections. I’d recommend it for Rebus fans, but it might also be a good, bite-sized introduction to the detective.
Suggested Pairing: Well, obviously a Scotch or a lager. Because I’m mostly a beer girl and most of these will probably be beer recommendations, I’m going to go with a Scotch. Something peaty. Have a nice Laphroaig or an Ardbeg with this one.
There it is, my first entry. Second one coming pretty soon, maybe later today, because I’ve already finished 3 books this year and I want to get caught up.