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on 29 September 2008
You're a celebrated crime author and you've just retired your most famous character - DI John Rebus, as if you didn't know - so what do you do next? Answer, you write an old-fashioned heist caper.

You'll have read the plot synopsis so I'll not summarise it again, I'll simply confine myself to making a few general points about the book:

First of all, this originally ran as a serial in the same publication that first printed Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch-lite `The Overlook' before it was published as a novel last year. I don't know if Ian has padded out `Doors Open' prior to publication, but it doesn't read like a novella stretched beyond its natural length.

I found `Doors Open' to be a satisfying read, even if it doesn't come close to approaching the quality of the best of the Rebus novels. For anyone else it would be decent little book, but Rankin has set his own standards so high, that you're perhaps looking for a bit more. I personally suspect that he wrote this as a bit of light relief after creating the increasingly complex plots of the `you know who' series for the past twenty years. That and the large wad of cash he was apparently paid for writing it.

His policeman here, DI Ransome could not be less like John Rebus if he tried. For a start, he doesn't rush bull-headed into things with no care for insulting his betters - or anyone, else for that matter. Ransome has a facility for diplomacy when among his peers (his counterpart from another station is the one officially investigating the art theft) and has subtle plans for his own advancement. He's no less effective than Rebus, but like I say, his methods are totally different. However, in local Edinburgh gangster Chib Calloway he's created a baddie cut from the same cloth, or perhaps that should be, hewn from the same block of granite, as 'Big Ger' Cafferty from the Rebus novels.

There are a few times in this novel where Rankin has his characters spit things out... as in "`Blah, blah, blah', he spat". This despite the fact that the sentences often contain no sibilants. This is a bit lazy, and proves to me that Ian himself regards this as no more than a frippery; a break from the real day job. Having said that, it's still a professional effort and contains a good number of decent twists.

In summary, this is an effective and efficient little thriller. It's Ian Rankin writing in a much lighter vein - but it's no less enjoyable for that. If I'm going to be picky, there are writers around like Christopher Brookmyre who, frankly, do this kind of thing much better. Still it's a nice enough stab at something different, and it's never less than entertaining. But it isn't major league Rankin and anyone approaching it with that expectation is going to be disappointed.
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on 15 January 2009
I'm a great Ian Rankin fan. At least, I thought I was. I realise now that I'm a great Rebus fan. I came to this book desperately wanting to like it and I couldn't. How can any press reviewer say it shows Rankin's ability to move beyond Rebus? What it shows is the exact opposite. The exposition is overdone, heavy, leaden. The characterisation is hopeless (Big 'Ger Cafferty was always a questionable gangster -- risible, in fact -- but one accepted him because Rankin wrote him. But Chib Calloway -- Chib Calloway is the most unbelievable gangster in the history of crime fiction). This book is terrible. It's awful. Until now, when Rankin published a book I bought it. I may never buy another.
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on 20 January 2009
I found myself wondering whether this was a very early effort that had found it's way from the top of the wardrobe - how else to attribute this poor work to the author of the excellent Rebus novels.

The plot was completely unbelievable - everyone seemed to know everyone else. The heist itself - blink and you'd have missed it... The arch-villain - why didn't he nick all the paintings for himself if he was so unscrupulous...he was supplying the crew with the guns after all?

As well as the telegraphed ending, what really upset me were the glowing recommendations on the back cover. Sunday Telegraph; Mail on Sunday; Scotland on Sunday... until you realise after reading, that THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT OTHER BOOKS!

Come on Ian Rankin - you should be above this malarky! Have a quiet word with the publishers...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 September 2008
Ian Rankin is at something of a turning point in his writing career. Although he wrote other novels early on, he is mainly known for the Inspector Rebus series which has enjoyed enormous critical and popular success in recent years. Now Rebus is taking a break, at least temporarily, and Rankin has just released his first stand-alone novel since the Inspector retired. After such a popular series has ended, it can be difficult for the author to win over former readers with an entirely new book, but 'Doors Open' suggests that Ian Rankin still has what it takes to entertain us even without his most famous creation.

It seems he has intentionally set out to create something as different as possible from his previous work. 'Doors Open' is, for want of a better word, a 'caper.' The tone is lighter than the Rebus novels (although things take a serious turn towards the end), and the book reminded me of a modern Scottish version of the classic film 'The League Of Gentlemen'. Mike Mackenzie has made a fortune from computer software at an early age; now he's bored and looking for a bit of adventure. When his friend Robert Gissing suggests 'liberating' a series of paintings from the National Gallery storage vaults in Edinburgh, it's just what he's been looking for. With his other pal Allan and a student forger in tow, Mike approaches gangland boss Chib Calloway (who was at school with Mike) to aid them in their plan. Needless to say, some major complications ensue - greedy partners, an obsessed policeman out to nail Calloway and a monstrous Scandinavian debt-collector called Hate are drawn in to the situation and Mike and friends quickly find themselves completely out of their depth and in serious danger from both the police and the criminal underworld.

At first I was unsure about the book; it seemed to me rather unconvincing the way that Mike and Allan almost immediately fell in with Gissing's plan despite being normal, law-abiding citizens previously. However, as the day of the heist approaches that niggle was swiftly forgotten. Despite the change in subject and tone, Rankin has lost none of his ability to grip the reader. He also knows how to create likeable but fallible characters - readers will be willing Mike and his cohorts to succeed in their plan and get away with it. One of the author's favourite themes - the duality of the public and private sides of Edinburgh - is once again to the fore, complete with allusions to Jekyll and Hyde. In fact, there is enough that's familiar in this book to reassure Rebus devotees, but the fresh approach keeps it from seeming stale or repetitive.

I must admit I hope Ian Rankin will write more Rebus books at some future date, but I still thoroughly enjoyed 'Doors Open'. The end of the novel offers the possibility that we may see some of the characters again, and I would definitely welcome their return.
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on 13 October 2008
The best way I can describe reading this book after Rebus is it's like watching Bonekickers after Life on Mars. I know Ian Rankin can write well without Rebus - I first read his watchman stuff - but this has the feel of meeting deadlines and fulfilling contractual obligations. The characters are cardboard, no one to like or care about, the plot is thin. I think this is probably the first time I have needed more than one sitting to read any of his books - I really struggled to finish it and I don't think it was worth it. From anyone else I would have given this two stars - so this may be really unfair - but the disappointment is all the more. Let's hope this is a blip, back to form next time, and that this isn't the start of a series.
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on 31 August 2009
This was the worst book by Ian Rankin I have read - in fact I became so fed up with it that I abandoned it before the end. It was difficult to believe it was actually written by him; the characters were cardboard cutout and the plot was, frankly, laughable.
It seems that he has now found a new person on which to write his next series. Thank goodness.
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on 15 September 2009
This could have been a fun and frivolous fable, but ended up being dreary and dull. Characterisation is poor and plot is contrived and unoriginal. I can hardly believe this is from Rankin - surely one of the most effective writers of crime-fiction writing today.

This disappoints severely - avoid.
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on 1 December 2009
Having read all the Rebus books and rating them highly I bought Doors Open because it was a 'Rankin'. Hence the great disappointment and the feeling that I should ask for my money back. It was made all the worse because I very much like the work of Christopher Brookmyer (also Tartan Noir) and Doors Open is a very very pale effort when compared to the Sacred Art of Stealing by Christopher Brookmyer. The Sacred Art is creative and amusing and kept me entertained from beginning to end. Doors Open lacks pace, is rather dull, and only really gets going in the last 20 pages.

I will not buy the other 'newish Rankin' (Complaints) - or any other new Rankin - in future until I have read the reviews (that is customer reviews and not Waterstones employees views or publishers blurb).

As another reviewer judged - it is pedestrian.
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on 27 August 2015
I'm a big fan of Rankin's novels, particularly the Rebus series, and was looking forward to reading this. The basic idea of this book is good, but there is a terrible, naïve flaw that anyone with any knowledge of painting will find ruins the book. I don't want to ruin this for anyone who might enjoy it and not notice the error and so won't identify the slip up, sufficient to say that it ruined the book for me.
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on 20 June 2013
Doors Open was the first book Ian Rankin wrote after the he retired John Rebus in Exit Music. It was also Rankin's first standalone novel in ten years and all in all it was in my opinion a success.

Rankin tells the story of four middle aged men who for a variety of reasons decide to liberate some of the art kept in storage and hidden away from the public. What starts as a pipe dream talked over with a few whiskeys late at night soon becomes a forming plan, and in order to pull off the job the four men reach out the a variety of other people with varying degrees of success.

All in all I found this to be an enjoyable read. The main character Mike McKenzie was interesting to learn about and I enjoyed seeing his character evolve and react to situations as they occur. Rankin also introduces a new gangster called Chib Calloway who was also a very good character in my opinion. The pacing of the book was very good and I seemed to read the book in just two or three settings.

The only real issue I have with the book was the ending. I will not go into details so as to avoid spoiling it for anyone reading this that has not finished yet but I did find the ending frustrating and for that I am knocking a star off.

Despite this I found the book to be a good read and would recommend it to other fans of the crime genre.
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