Ian Rankin with Shane Maloney

Ian Rankin with Shane Maloney

'To me, the character of a detective is the same as the character of a writer … We’re trying to find the shape from something that seems quite chaotic.'

At Melbourne City Conference Centre, the king of tartan noir talks mystery, mythology and literary cities with Shane Maloney.

Edinburgh, like Melbourne, is a City of Literature and home to a disproportionate number of brilliant writers – from Muriel Spark, Robert Louis Stevenson, Irvine Welsh, to best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin. Rankin’s most famous fictional creation, Inspector John Rebus, is woven into the city’s character and mythology. The cranky, dram-swilling Rebus has starred in a staggering 21 crime novels set in Edinburgh, written by Rankin over the course of 30 years; in recognition, Edinburgh is this year hosting a festival, RebusFest, to celebrate the anniversary.

But Rankin’s enormous creative output is by no means limited to one series. He has also written plays, graphic novels, featured in TV series and documentaries and even collaborated on an album. Across a huge body of work, Rankin has revealed a gift not just for telling cracking stories, but also for chronicling social shifts in modern-day Scotland.

'All crime fiction forever and a day is predicated on this one question: why do we keep doing terrible things to each other?' says Rankin. 'We can’t answer that question, but we can keep asking that question in different ways, and making you, the reader, think about it. Is it a natural thing about being a human, or living in a capitalist society, that human beings will keep doing things again and again?'


Portrait of Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin's first Rebus novel was published in 1987. The Rebus books are now translated into 36 languages, and are bestsellers worldwide.

Rankin is a number one bestseller in the UK and has received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons.

Portrait of Shane Maloney

Shane Maloney

Born in Hamilton in western Victoria in 1953, Shane Maloney is one of Australia’s most popular novelists. His award-winning and much-loved Murray Whelan series – Stiff, The Brush-Off, Nice Try, The Big Ask, Something Fishy and Sucked In – has been published around the world. 

In 1996, The Brush-Off won the Ned Kelly Prize for Crime Fiction. In 2004, Stiff and The Brush-Off were made into telemovies starring David Wenham as Murray Whelan. In 2009, Shane Maloney was presented with the Crime Writers’ Association of Australia Lifetime Achievement Award.

Listen to Ian Rankin with Shane Maloney