Book Review: Even Dogs in the Wild – Ian Rankin

By Sam Chambers

You say you can’t keep a good man down, and that sentence has never been truer than of Ian Rankin’s curmudgeonly detective, John Rebus, who makes a triumphant return in Even Dogs in the Wild, the Scottish crime-writer’s 20th novel to feature the former detective inspector.

In and out of retirement for his last few outings, Rebus is – thankfully to us – akin to a police boomerang. Even Dogs begins with him back in retirement – through Police Scotland requirement, not personal choice – and struggling to adjust to life as a civilian, kicking his heels and contemplating what lies ahead for him on the Thin Blue Scrapheap.

However, when someone takes a pot-shot at Rebus’s old adversary and sometime-associate Big Ger Cafferty, the retired policeman’s former apprentice DI Siobhan Clarke and foe-cum-friend DI Malcolm Fox turn to the only man they can think of to get the stubborn gangers to cooperate with their enquiries.

Rebus.

Meanwhile, across town, a senior lawyer’s body has been found along with a threatening note – one, it transpires, Cafferty was also sent, so it’s up to Rebus, now working in a consultative capacity, and Clarke, to get to the bottom of it.

These incidents coincide with a volatile Glasgow crime outfit making its presence felt in Edinburgh, meaning Fox is seconded to a cover team intent on bringing them down. With Cafferty and his rivals on edge, Scotland’s capital city is on the brink of all-out war. The detectives must figure out if the crimes are linked to the outsiders, or whether it is simply an unhappy coincidence.

Rebus, of course, revels in the excitement and the intrigue, though what follows makes for an uncomfortable investigation even by his standards, as the team delves deep into the past. They are taken into some very murky waters, full of cover-ups, lies and violence, expertly contrived by Rankin.

Nevertheless, he takes great delight in proving a point to the top brass at Police Scotland, as his old-school methods turn up some unexpected leads, showing up his younger brethren in the process. Fox, on the other hand, with his father on his deathbed, is at a crossroads in his life. Questioning his own abilities as a detective, he jettisons his conservative approach to policing to take a leaf out of Rebus’s book.

The way these two characters interact, with Rebus flitting between empathetic, fatherly mentor and gloating former rival, makes for great entertainment, and the humour sprinkled in their conversations makes for light relief from the darkly twisted yet compelling narrative.

What is particularly interesting is how they help each other come to accept where they are in their respective lives. Even Dogs in the Wild sees an almost antithetical transformation of its two male protagonists. Rebus growing softer in old age – he even adopts a stray dog – and Fox becoming steelier and more aware of the ruthless, bloody-minded qualities that a ‘proper’ detective needs to succeed.

On this kind of form, it is no surprise that Rankin’s work accounts for 10 per cent of all British crime-fiction sales. His meticulous plotting, sharp dialogue, flawed but likeable characters, and subtle clue-laying, exemplifies the ability of a man who has all but perfected his craft. Only Mark Billingham comes close to matching Rankin’s talents as a writer of this genre – as does his creation Tom Thorne in equaling Rebus as Britain’s most headstrong fictional detective.

Like a fine wine, Rankin gets better with age, and it seems he – and Rebus – still has plenty more left in the tank, so don’t expect to be saying goodbye to the cantankerous old sleuth just yet.

Rating: 4/5

Eye-opening and enjoyable internship for DMU Graduate

Journalism graduate Natalie Whitehouse returned to De Montfort for a six-week internship placement, working on the Leicestershire Press.

The 22-year-old, who graduated from DMU with a First Class Honors degree in July last year, applied for the placement through the DMU Graduate Champions scheme, which seeks to find internships for recent graduates from the university, to give them more experience in their field:

“I heard about the scheme when I got a card through the post about it, and applied for it straight away,” Natalie notes, “I was contacted not long after to confirm that my application had been successful, and that I’d actually been given a placement at De Montfort.”

The internship, which began in January and is set to finish next week, has seen Natalie work closely with DMU’s Journalism Centre, where she completed her degree at the university:

“It has been really nice to go back to DMU and work alongside the people who had helped me get my degree. It was good to come back and do something positive for the journalism centre to give them something back for everything they did for me.”

Natalie, who studied English Language and Journalism at DMU, has been working as an Editorial Associate for the Leicestershire Press website, finding positive news stories to help promote and publicise journalism at the university:

“My role is essentially researching recent graduates, finding out what they’re doing and whether they’ve managed to find full time employment, or even an internship like me, in a journalism related capacity.

“If they have, I’ve then contacted them to arrange an interview, and just had a general chat about their role now and how their degree and experience whilst at DMU helped them in landing their jobs.

“It’s been interesting to see how these graduates actually got employed, because most haven’t been the conventional ‘apply online’ way. It gives you hope that there are many ways to get employed, and you need to think outside the box and be proactive!”

The internship has definitely been an eye-opener for Natalie in terms of her own job search, but an enjoyable experience too:

“It’s been really nice getting back into contact with people I had classes with at university. It’s also been great talking to people who I didn’t know whilst I was at DMU, I was wary about approaching people I didn’t know, but they’ve actually all been really helpful and happy to chat about their jobs.”

Since graduating, Natalie has been continuing to work part time whilst gaining extra experience in the hope of securing her dream job herself:

“I have had some interviews for a couple of really great jobs that I never thought I’d get an interview for! But I was told I just needed that little bit extra experience. I’m already involved in quite a few things journalism-wise, and now this internship with DMU is something extra which I hope will make me stand out when applying for jobs.”

Although accepting that it has been tough to find full time employment after university, she is confident that what she has learnt so far will stand her in good stead in the future:

“It’s no surprise that trying to find a job in the journalism industry is tough, but I am and have always been a determined and driven person, and I know if I keep working at it it’ll happen. This internship, alongside my full time job and commitments to other websites, has seen me working six days a week, but I know that it’s all worthwhile experience and I am confident that the hard work will pay off eventually!”

Natalie Whitehouse

“It definitely makes for an interesting story that the one job I didn’t actually apply for, I ended up getting!”

By Natalie Whitehouse

After applying for a whole host of jobs, journalism graduate Sam Smith landed a fantastic role in PR – without actually applying for the job in the first place.

Sam, who graduated from De Montfort with a 2:1 in Journalism, got into contact with the Leicester branch of Aylesworth Fleming, a PR company with various offices across the country, speaking to the PR account director and putting himself out there.

And being pro-active proved to be a success, as a couple of months later the 22-year-old was fortunate enough to be offered an interview, and ultimately a PR role, at the company:

“I did apply for other jobs, of course, so it definitely makes for an interesting story that the one job I didn’t actually apply for, I ended up getting! I applied for a variety of job roles in different locations, from sports journalism jobs in London to PR account jobs in Liverpool.

“I’d also been applying for jobs outside of PR and journalism, including at a local Waitrose where I was actually offered a job just days before landing my role at Aylesworth Fleming which I then had to turn down after initially accepting. I suppose it’s the old London buses analogy scenario.”

The NCTJ accredited journalist noted that preparation and previous experience allowed him to stand out as a candidate for the role:

“When I walked into my interview with Aylesworth Fleming, I had my portfolio of work clutched tightly under my arm, full of cuttings from newspapers, magazines and online articles which I had built up through my degree at De Montfort, from the Demon to the Leicester Mercury and many more, and it was my writing skills which really helped me secure my job.

“My message to anyone in this industry would be to make sure you are putting yourself out there and keeping hold of any work you’ve achieved because it will become useful further down the line.”

Sam began his role at the PR company in September last year, after graduating from DMU two months previously. The company primarily specialises in marketing and advertising for property developers, and Sam confesses this wasn’t the area he had in mind when looking into PR positions:

“If you had asked me when I left De Montfort if property developers were my point of interest, and house builders PR was going to be my long-term career, I’d be lying if I said that seemed reasonable. However, now I’ve become a part of this industry, I can honestly say I love working in this environment and that PR is absolutely the industry I want to be in. I couldn’t be enjoying myself any more than I am right now.”

Sam Smith

Sam’s journey just goes to show that putting yourself out there will reap the deserved rewards, which in this case is a varied job that the graduate thoroughly loves. Although he confesses one of his biggest day-to-day tasks is making tea (“everybody here drinks a lot of tea!”), his role is really quite diverse, with each day providing new challenges:

“The obvious stuff such as writing press releases is a given, but the main objective for all of us working at Aylesworth Fleming, especially in the PR department, is to meet our clients’ needs on a daily basis. This can take many forms in truth, from setting up photography at housing developments to fielding phone calls from the local and national media who are enquiring about a new homes development with one of our clients.”

The biggest challenge Sam has faced, however, has been the transition from university to working life, with a full time role proving to be a big change – especially in such a fast-paced, demanding industry:

“It’s a huge change. From waking up at a reasonable time in the morning, attending lectures maybe three to four times a week, and having deadlines set weeks in advance to achieve… working life is something very different to university life.

“Luckily for me, my drive to work each morning is short and sweet with very little traffic, and the same again on my way home, so that doesn’t affect me. Working to tight deadlines and having things thrown at you from every angle during any given day’s work can be a challenge, though.”

But for the most part, Sam has completely thrown himself into his role at Aylesworth Fleming, and his friendly office enabled him to ease into a full time position immediately:

“This will probably sound a little bit cliché but I have to say that honestly the best thing about coming into work every day is the people around me in our office. We all get along, support each other with our work, work hard for each other but also keep things light-hearted and always have a good laugh about things.

“Perhaps from an outsider’s view, they maybe don’t know who Aylesworth Fleming are or what we do here, but inside our camp it’s a genuine privilege for me to come into work every morning and learn from these guys around me.”

And seeing results also enables Sam to have an unbridled passion for his role, which is something that all graduates will be seeking to find:

“When you’ve worked hard on putting something together for a client, for example if you’ve written a 500 word press release, organised a photo shoot to accompany it, put it all together and sent it out to the media, it’s a sweet feeling seeing your hard work make print and having newspaper and magazine cuttings with your work attached.”

“It’s rewarding to know that all the work I put into my degree has paid off”

By Natalie Whitehouse

English and Journalism graduate Chloé Jones started 2016 in fine fashion, beginning her role as Marketing Officer at the University of Nottingham.

The job came as a result of already being employed at the university, working in The Student Recruitment and Enquiries Centre, where Chloé saw the role of Marketing Officer advertised internally and knew it was a position that would suit her talents:

“The role sounded really exciting and the skills and knowledge required were closely linked to what I’d learnt at university, so I decided to grab the opportunity and go for it! I was so shocked when I was offered the job, I feel so lucky to be in a role like this so soon after graduating.”

The 21-year-old began her role as Marketing Officer of the Faculty of Arts in January this year, where she is responsible for managing the faculty’s social media channels, promoting events within in the university and around the city of Nottingham.

Chloé’s role is diverse. She notes that “every day is different,” with her day-to-day tasks also including liaising with academics and the central marketing team at the university, as well as writing copy for, and designing, marketing material.

Chloé Jones

She pays testament to her course at De Montfort, from which she graduated in July, stating that the experience enabled her to stand out as a candidate for the job:

“Studying journalism at DMU has been hugely valuable not only in securing me this job, but actually doing it. In the interview I talked about skills I had learnt through university like copywriting, proofreading and designing, and showed my portfolio of work that I built up from my three years of study, like news articles and reviews I had written and the magazine I created in my final year.

“The work experience I did throughout my degree was definitely the most helpful. I’ve worked at my local newspaper, The Derby Telegraph, a local lifestyle magazine, as well as Look magazine last summer. Gaining a first-hand insight into the real world of journalism really helped me understand the industry and gave me loads to talk about in the interview.”

And since starting her role, Chloé has gained even more vital experience, which she knows will only aid her in climbing the ladder in the journalism industry in years to come:

“I’m still quite new to the role so I’m enjoying learning about the different processes involved in marketing, and interacting with so many interesting people. I have a lot of opportunities to be creative which is really fun and there’s a real mix of responsibilities and challenges to take on.

“My job as a Marketing Officer is giving me loads of transferable skills and experience as a stepping stone between here and where I really want to be!”

Where Chloé really wants to be is working in fashion – an area of journalism in which her interest has grown considerably, following previous work experience placements – and she states that this is something she is aiming towards:

“My dream job is to work for a woman’s fashion and lifestyle magazine, writing features or columns. After my work experience with Look, my heart is set on moving down to London and kick-starting my career with a magazine publisher like Condé-Nast or Time Inc UK!”

But for now, the English and Journalism graduate is thoroughly enjoying her first full time role in an industry she has been working towards succeeding in for years:

“Adjusting to a new routine was challenging but now that I feel settled it’s actually really refreshing. It’s rewarding to know that all the work I put into my degree has paid off and that I can apply what I learnt to my job and future roles.”