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In recent months, word has come that authors of several of the very best police procedural series have decided to put an end to their heroes adventures.  John Harvey is apparently retiring Charlie Resnick, Archer Mayor may do the same with Joe Gunther and Colin Dexter killed off Inspector Morse.  This leaves something of a void in the genre, particularly at the more noirish margin, but luckily, Ian Rankin and Detective John Rebus seem to be just hitting their stride and, with the ranks of the competitors thinned, these tartan noir novels will hopefully gain the audience they richly deserve.

Rankin began the series in 1987 with Knots and Crosses.  His creation, John Rebus, a former SAS special op turned Scottish police detective, is driven by Calvinist guilt, fueled by whiskey, cigarettes and pop music and is willing, even eager, to cut corners and push boundaries in his pursuit of a pretty harsh justice.  But now, eight books and ten years into the series, Rebus is reaching a crisis point as an overwhelming confluence of events threatens to swamp him.  First, he's been transferred to a backwater division in the wake of the fallout from his last case and his first investigation there seems to tie into both the North Sea oil industry and the mobs.  Second, an old case where he and his mentor played fast and loose with the rules has been reopened.  Third, a copycat killer has started imitating the murder pattern of Bible John (a true life killer) who terrified Scotland in the late 60's.  The new killer has been nicknamed Johnny Bible and Rebus is obsessed by both killers.    Finally, one of his old partners is assigned to keep an eye on him and starts talking to him about the changes that AA has made in his life and pushing Rebus to reexamine his own.

Rankin somehow manages to keep all these plates spinning in a really superior entry in one of the more underrated series around.  The book won a well deserved Golden Dagger award (Best Mystery as awarded by the Crime Writers Association of Britain) and if you like your crime fiction hard boiled, this is a book you should not miss


Grade: (A+)


See also:

Ian Rankin (4 books reviewed)
Ian Rankin Links:

    -Ian Rankin Web Site (Minotaur Books)
    -PROFILE: Sympathy for the devil: Please allow us to introduce Ian Rankin, a man of wealth and taste. HeÕs been around for years writing about Inspector Rebus, but now the series is coming to an end, and BritainÕs most successful crime novelist must decide what to do next. A good time, then, for Peter Ross to take a magnifying glass to the fascinating life and career of a very Scottish literary star (Peter Ross, 02 May 2004, Sunday Herald)
    -ESSAY: Soft-boiled: Detectives aren't what they used to be (Stephen Budiansky, The Atlantic)
-INTERVIEW: Author Ian Rankin: ‘My first books were comic annuals, the likes of The Victor and Hotspur’ (Independent ie, October 09 2022)
    -INTERVIEW :  with Ian Rankin  (Book Browse)
    -INTERVIEW: Ian Rankin Exile on Princes Street:  Inspector Rebus & I (Tangled Web)
    -INTERVIEW: Ian Rankin  Starless & Bible Black:   The Serial Killer Who Refuses to Die
    -The BookEnds Interview: IAN RANKIN
    -Ian Rankin (reviews, etc. from Twisted Web)
    -REVIEW: of Black and Blue (Crime Reviews, Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Dead Souls (BookBrowser)
    -REVIEW: of Dead Souls Ghost Writing  Gary Marshall detects brilliance in Ian Rankin's Dead Souls (Spike)
     -REVIEW: of Let it Bleed  (BookBrowser)
    -REVIEW: of SET IN DARKNESS By Ian Rankin (Marcel Berlins, London Sunday Times)
    -REVIEW : of The Falls by Ian Rankin (Jane Jakeman, Independent uk)

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