I love when characters that I love turn up in other books that I am reading. I have mentioned before that this happens often in Maeve Binchy books; Marian Keyes is another author that does this. I love when these instances provide a way for the reader to find out a little bit about how characters are faring after the final chapters in their own books.
Generally this is a delightful run-in and only serves to further solidify my love for a particular character. Normally it makes me smile.
But I’m in the middle of reading Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin and for the first time ever, a run-in with another character isn’t making me smile. It might actually be changing my perspective on said character.
Standing in Another Man’s Grave is an Inspector Rebus book. It is the most recent, the 19th in a long-running, popular series. In it, Rebus is retired but working on cold cases as a civilian while he tries his best to get back onto the force (they’ve raised the retirement age). He’s helping his former protégé Siobhan Clarke work on the disappearance of a young woman, that may or may not have something to do with a few other disappearances of young women going back to 1999.
So Rebus is being his usual crusty, rule-breaking self and loving it when Malcolm Fox starts sticking his oar in.
Malcolm Fox is the hero in Rankin’s The Complaints and The Impossible Dead. I haven’t read The Complaints but I did just read The Impossible Dead and I liked Malcolm Fox! He didn’t have much of a life outside of the job but do any book detectives ever have a great life outside of the job? He was just trying to make sure that the police held their end of the bargain you know? He seemed like an OK dude.
Well so far in Standing in Another Man’s Grave? Malcolm Fox is a d*ck. He’s all up in Rebus’ business, asking him why he’s been having drinks with this former gangster, warning him about trying to get back on the force. He’s even getting Siobhan Clarke to talk sh*t about Rebus. I thought they were friends! Rebus isn’t friends with the gangster guy – it’s complicated OK?
Obviously I’m only halfway through so this could still turn out great and Fox could turn out to be a hero. But right now I don’t care for the cut of his jib and it’s making me question whether or not I event want to go back and read The Complaints. Maybe all those other (fictional) police officers were right and Malcolm Fox is just a jerk.
4 thoughts on “When Good Characters Annoy You”
I’ve never experienced this before… Maybe something happened in the intervening years/books to change him? (I am one of these people btw who definitely thinks that people can change.) Maybe Rankin forgot how he wrote him before… although this is unlikely. I’ve heard Rankin on the radio and he comes across as a really bright guy.
Maybe that’s what’s happened and there’s a book coming to explain it? As far as I know there are only 2 Malcolm Fox books currently and I read the later one. So frustrating! I keep telling him ‘you’re a good guy Malcolm! What’s going on with you?’
I should maybe be less invested in fictional worlds…
On the other hand maybe it’s a case of the author breaking his unofficial contract of fiction with the reader… the success of their business lies in you investing in their worlds!
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