Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Three Ian Rankin novels

For reasons which will eventually become clear, we have amassed a large proportion of the writings of Ian Rankin, and I started with the first three Rebus novels on the way back from hols.

August Books 42) Knots and Crosses, by Ian Rankin

The first Rebus book introduces us to our hero, who has a Past - two Pasts, in fact: a traumatic military experience in the SAS, and a failed marriage. The two collide in spectacular fashion; it's not so much a detective novel as a psychological account of Rebus working through his own experiences. Both Rankin and Rebus also seem to have a fascination with the intersection between police procedurality and media manipulation. All set against a richly detailed Edinburgh. A good start.

August Books 43) Hide and Seek, by Ian Rankin

I also enjoyed Hide and Seek, which expanded one of the themes from Knots and Crosses - Rebus' relationship with his non-policeman brother - for a complex web of pairs of police/non-police brothers whose relationships cross the boundary of legality. It's also the most political of the first three novels, in that Rebus' investigation into the lonely death of a drug addict takes him into the highest echelons of Edinburgh society (there is a scene featuring the Temptation of John Rebus by the devils of social status). The ending is rather unsatisfactory for Rebus but not for the reader.

August Books 44) Tooth and Nail, by Ian Rankin

The third book worked least well for me, taking Rebus off his home patch to London to investigate a serial killer. The London of Tooth and Claw seemed improbably small, with everyone turned out to be related to each other; its population also appeared to be entirely white. The subplot with a forensic psychologist who was not what she seemed was not very plausible. And the solution to the actual mystery was more suited to an Agatha Christie country house murder fantasy than to the gritty urban narrative that Rankin was probably trying to write.

So I am adding Rankin to my monthly reading list, taking the books more or less in order. It is interesting to read a totally different take on the setting also used by Charles Stross and Ken MacLeod (though of course set in the present day rather than a future independent Scotland).
Tags: bookblog 2009, writer: ian rankin

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