Is there such a thing as a perfect crime?
Mike Mackenzie thinks so. A self-made millionaire who happens to
be bored, Mackenzie is looking for something to excite
him…perhaps something with a bit of danger around its edges.
He gets just what he’s looking for when he’s approached
by Professor Robert Gissing, who proposes to “liberate”
great works of art from the National Gallery of Scotland,
“one of the highest profile targets in the capital.”
Gissing’s beef is that so much art is hidden away in
warehouses and basements, which deprives the public a chance to
view and admire it.
But the plan has a big twist: the real paintings will be
replaced by perfect replicas --- using a student of Gissing’s
who is a master at copying artwork --- so no one will know the
originals are missing. At first, Mackenzie thinks the professor is
only talking theoretically, but soon realizes that the old man is
quite serious. He decides that this is the kind of dramatic crime
that would revitalize him and get his blood rushing again. With the
aid of his friend Allan Cruikshank, a fellow art lover, the scheme
is refined and plans are put in place.
Once a year, Edinburgh treats its citizens to Open Door Day, a
time when places ordinarily off limits to the public are open and
guided tours are offered. One of those places is the warehouse
where the National Gallery’s overflow of artworks is kept.
And that’s when the caper will be put into action. The men
believe their plan to be foolproof.
Mackenzie feels a rush of excitement every time he thinks about
the heist and the piece of artwork each of the gang has chosen to
keep. While the others are more hands on, Gissing stays one degree
removed from them, all the while pulling the strings that keep the
plan in motion. But he seems to be hiding something from the rest
of the men. What could it be?
Additionally, unbeknownst to them, an ambitious Inspector
Ransome senses that something is afoot and begins to keep a sharp
eye out on all the characters involved. The case is not his, but he
insinuates himself into it and eventually comes to some startling
conclusions that could spell doom for Mackenzie and the band of
DOORS OPEN is a fast read. Ian Rankin’s style and prose
are always flawless and his characters interesting. But for fans of
his Inspector Rebus books and other stand-alones, this novel falls
flat. He doesn’t build the kind of tension his readers are
accustomed to or flesh out the themes in a coherent way. His public
can only hope that he decides to revive the Rebus series at some
point in the near future.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 21, 2011