Best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin is the author of The Impossible Dead (Orion, $37.99).

The book I love most is ... Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, especially the copy she inscribed for me at the Edinburgh Book Festival. This is a sublime, elegant yet chilling book which definitely punches above its weight.

The book I'm reading right now is ... Nine Inches, by Colin Bateman, who writes about his native Northern Ireland. He is laugh-out-loud funny, but also perceptive about the state of life in Belfast.

The book I'd like to read next is ... The Fear Index by Robert Harris. He's a terrific novelist who writes contemporary thrillers with the same ease and depth of research he brings to his books set in the ancient world.


The book that changed me is ... Laidlaw by William McIlvanney. I read this in the early 1980s when I was a student but also trying to become a published novelist. It's beautifully written, with taut plotting and a clean style. Laidlaw made me think I could maybe write my own crime fiction.

My favourite bookstore is ... Murder By the Book in Houston, Texas. Knowledgeable staff and a great selection of new and secondhand books.

The book I wish I'd never read is ... The Gates of Janus, by Ian Brady. Brady is an infamous serial killer and this book is his credo. I read it only for research purposes and it made my skin crawl.