Ian Rankin's police procedurals have earned the Scottish novelist international success and critical acclaim, but when it comes to getting his special edition of the new Radiohead album, Rankin is at the mercy of faceless international shipping conglomerates and the band's haphazard distribution strategy just like the rest of us.
Rankin details the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of his "deluxe vinyl edition" of Radiohead's The King of Limbs in a 1500-word article for The Quietus. Those expecting Rankin's usual mix of brutal action, dense plotting, and clear-eyed commentary on the state of modern Edinburgh will be disappointed, but it really is a detective story, albeit one where the detective is a man who orders a record, doesn't get it, and spends a lot of time on the phone and online trying to find out why. It all started innocently enough back in April. Rankin writes:
By mid-May, I began to feel that something was amiss. Vinyl copies were in the shops, and secondhand copies of the deluxe edition were on sale on eBay. I knew from the online community that packages had been dropping into letterboxes around the world, but where was mine? ... I began to use Twitter to ask if anyone else had experienced problems. Some people had received their copies on time. Others were still waiting. Some had experienced delivery problems but had prevailed. I still felt lost. There was just me, the non-delivery, and an automated website that was proving useless. I tried both the Radiohead and King of Limbs Twitter pages, leaving messages, but no-one got back to me. Frustrated, I joined the official Radiohead online ‘fan club’, meaning I could send an actual e-mail to someone voicing my complaint. Again, silence was all.
Fortunately, I know a few people in the music world. I asked The Quietus if they could shed any light. They managed to talk to an Actual Human Being somewhere in the Radiohead Corporate Universe. The album had been delivered, I was told. The courier had tried on April 28th, but with no success. They’d tried again on May 9th and someone had signed for the package.
But Rankin knows for a fact he was home those two days and never once left the house. Wait, there's more. After being told to speak to someone named Yodel, which turns out to be the company DHL uses for subcontracting, Rankin comes to this:
The package had been delivered and signed for. ‘Do you have a name?’ I asked, ‘of the person who signed for it?’ The answer came eventually: the mysterious Mr, Mrs or Ms Macrury.
No Macrurys or MacRurys in this house. No Macrurys or MacRurys in this street. ... But at 3.05pm on May 9th, he or she had signed for my package and taken delivery of The King of Limbs. That was the story. ‘What can I do?’ I asked the nice man from Yodel or YoDel. ‘You need to contact the supplier and get them to initiate a search.’
‘I can’t. It’s just an automated system on a website.’
‘No e-mail or phone number?’
‘No postal address?’
‘Well, you need to contact them.’
Needless to say, he wasn't able to. That's where things stand now. Rankin's album-less and disillusioned with his favorite band for going down the road of automated systems and shoddy record-keeping in their attempt "to set themselves up as a cottage industry paid for by the fans and in tune with those fans." But there's a half-happy ending:
Having told The Quietus (and my Twitter allies) that I would be writing about this whole episode today, I’ve just received an e-mail. It tells me a copy of The King of Limbs will be with me tomorrow. Thanks, Radiohead. Feel free to close the stable door. And go fetch a lasso while you’re at it.
And that's the latest from mystery writer Ian Rankin. We wonder who might play Thom Yorke in the gripping movie adaptation.