Created by Ian Rankin

REGAN is a hard-boiled American private eye right out of central casting–or at least an American pulp mag from the forties, very much in the Chandler mold, full of world-weariness, wisecracks and similes, is hired to investigate a woman’s murder, in Scottish author Ian Rankin’s 2012 illustrated novella “The Lie Factory.”

“The Lie Factory,” is, in fact, the name by which Regan refers to the city he lives in–we never actually find out what it’s real name is.

The story would be noteworthy enough–Rankin, author of the bestselling Inspector Rebus series, is not known for his private eye fiction, although even a quick glimpse through his work shows he’s more than aware of Hammett, Chandler et al.

Hard-boiled? He’s soaking in it.

But what really rocks the boat is that “The Lie Factory” was inspired by the music of blues-drenched songwriting of the late Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher, who was also apparently a fan of hard-boiled detective fiction, and frequently worked its themes and references into his music, perhaps most notably on the song,  “The Continental Op.”

And sure enough, Rankin worked snippets of the rocker’s lyrics and characters from some of his songs into the story.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Regan drinks too much, and is awash in a sea of guilt, bad memories and bottomed out self-esteem. It’s not just Regan himself, though, that dips into the hard-boiled pool–the plot itself boasts sardonic, smart ass first-person narration (by Regan, of course), a pair of sisters, mistaken identity, a treacherous dame or two, plenty of over-boiled dialogue and even class issues–Regan, we are told, came from Poortown, and certainly has little use for the rich.

Good stuff!

There are a few ways to get “The Lie Factory,” but if you’ve got the bucks, the Kickback City Box Set by Rory Gallagher is the way to go. The deluxe package features three CD’s (two  featuring live and studio cuts of some of Gallagher’s best crime-related stuff) and the third is an audio recording of the novella, narrated by Aidan Quinn, plus three postcards boasting pulp-style illustrations (complete with ads) by Timothy Truman, and a forty-page booklet featuring the novella itself, also illustrated by Truman, who likes to read.




  • April 29, 2023
    The Bottom Line: Rankin steps into the Shamus Game, with a down-and-dirty eye steeped in 40s American pulp, in an illustrated novella that comes with a Rory Gallagher soundtrack.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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