Friday, August 21, 2015

Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

First Sentence: “Where are we going?”

John Rebus is out of retirement, demoted and now reporting to his protégée, Siobhan Clarke. A 30-year-old murder case has been reopened and Malcolm Fox, in his last case for Internal Affairs, is working it. A link is made in that that case brings into question the team with whom Rebus first worked, “Saints of the Shadow Bible.”

The opening scene reveals much of Rebus’ personality—he’s tenacious…”like a bloodhound with a scent…”; he never gives up on a case. He is described by a colleague as being “…a breed of cop that wasn’t supposed to exist anymore, are and endangered species.” For those who have followed the series, it is interesting to see how the character, and his life, has changed over time. Enough references to the past are made, however, that even new readers won’t feel lost. Set in the period just prior to vote on Scotland’s referendum for independence, it’s also interesting to see how that affects the case and the transitions it has made to policing in Scotland.

One does see how with maturity comes clarity and there is a nice balance of Rebus and Malcolm being opposite sides of a coin. Rebus’ actions, while in keeping with the character, are exasperating both to his colleagues, but also to the reader. It diminishes the story, rather than adding to it.  I stopped reading Rankin as I became tired of the Rebus' perpetual angst and alcohol.  Now, I rather with that Rebus were back.  The combination of Rebus, Siobhan, and Malcolm Fox is interesting but does, at times, feel a bit of a mash up.

Rankin is a very spare writer. He tells you what you need to know, but doesn’t waste much of his time on filler. This well suits worth the characters and the story. The fact that shootings are so rare in Scotland makes reading about the attention such an incident generates both interesting and very sad as compared to America.

Saints of the Shadow Bible” is a good read, but far from Rankin’s best. Instead, this book seemed rather flat and uninspired.

SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE (Pol Proc-Rebus/Fox/Clarke-Scotland-Contem) - Good
19th in series
Back Bay Books, Feb 2015

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