Rookie on Rankin's murder squad, May 27, 2013
This was the first and only Ian Rankin mystery in the John Rebus series that I've read. Many in the series precede this one, and several follow, but I had no reader's investment in any of it except fond memories of Edinburgh (which Rankin only fleetingly burnished). I started in the middle of the series on purpose--I wasn't sure I wanted to invest more than one-book's time in Inspector Rebus. As I read, I felt like the newcomer at a family affair, or the rookie on the homicide squad; who are these people and how can they be so, well, impossibly quirky. Coming into the middle of some new world isn't easy. Rankin's characters don't make it any easier. Rebus, a near-retirement eccentric nothing-to-lose solitary non-team player drunk-in-denial, might be the thickest mystery-solver I've run across. Others of this ilk ( Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse in Oxford comes to mind) at least are steeped in knowledge, culture, and cleverness. Rebus knows every pub in town and drives a Saab; does anyone with half a brain voluntarily drive a Saab?
His colleagues suspect Rebus gets them to do the shoe-leather legwork, and then puts the pieces together, and while he shares the credit, he certainly hasn't earned much for himself. As a new guy, I had to agree. Rebus gets junior coppers to do the detecting, while he drinks and gets set up and played by his pretty-boy rival on the police force (who Rebus clumsily gets near killed), his superiors, just about all the suspects (including one on his deathbed, who still has the last laugh on hapless Rebus), his friends, and his crime boss nemesis. When the latter uses Rebus to eliminate the competition and gets Rebus bludgeoned in the process, I felt hardly a smidgeon of sympathy for the thick-headed Inspector; what's not to disdain when the signals are flashing but stubbornness and self-righteousness are blinding? I preferred the crime-boss, and he was about as sympathetic as the snake whose fangs are buried in your leg.
I imagine Rankin's characters translated beautifully into the several series of television dramas. Rebus paints his characters and scenes in water-colors and leaves a lot of white space for brilliant details to be added. Other "Tartan Noir" series I've watched entertainingly captured the quixotic Scots, and made losers like Rebus and his colleagues far more sympathetic on the screen than they were on the pages of this novel. As a first-time reader, I was about as unhappy and frustrated with Rebus (and Rankin) as his police colleagues, his superiors, and the families and friends of the victims, one just mutters 'put down the booze, stop being a shite, and get on with it, Inspector.' That kind of "charm" takes a deal of getting used to. And after the pounding Rebus takes in this case, maybe that retirement isn't a bad thought after all. Whether there is another Rebus case in my future is an open question.
Twelfth in the Inspector Rebus series set in Edinburgh, Scotland. When a body is found stuffed in the fireplace of a building being renovated to accommodate the new Scottish Parliament, Rebus and Derek Linford, a snotty up-and-comer from Fettes station, are assigned to the case as they were on a liason committee that was touring on site when the body was found. The body has apparently been there for approximately 20 years or so, but when a much fresher body turns up, Rebus tries to connect the cases by heading off on his usual wild goose chase while Linford chooses more conventional solutions as he looks to ride the promotion train. Meanwhile, Siobahn deals with the suicide of a homeless man who surprisingly turns out to have a bank account with a large sum of money in it. Quite enjoyable, back on track after the last book in the series which I felt wasn't up to par. I have to admit I was cheesed off by the ending though--not going to say anything as it would be a big spoiler. :-)
An Inspector Rebus Novel:11
Edinburgh is about to become the home of the first Scottish parliment in nigh on three hundred years. Detective Inspector John Rebus is charged with liason, thanks to its being housed bang in the middle of his St. Leonard's patch.
Queensberry House is home not just to the new Scotland's rulers to be, but to the legend of a young man roasted on a spit by a madman. When the fireplace where the youth died is uncovered, another more recent murder victim is a prospective MSP and the powers that be are on Rebus's back demanding instant answers.
Another Ian Rankin, almost hate to give them up, I love reading them so much, just waiting for the next one, and I am sure if you like Rankin and Insp. Rebus, you will love this one as well.
Darker and moodier than any of the other Rebus novels I've read.
Another great "Inspector Rebus" novel. I'm about 3/4 the way thru the series and hate to reach the end. I love this character and the Scottish setting.
This copy is signed by the author. If you care, it's yours.