When an author as successful as Rankin has been with his tough and idiomatic Scottish thrillers, a problem sets in after several books: how to keep the formula fresh.
Rankin has delivered a powerful series of books featuring his beleaguered Detective Inspector John Rebus, and while never less than gripping, a certain tiredness seemed to be setting in. Thankfully, Dead Souls is a resounding return to form, with a plot as enjoyably labyrinthine as any Rankin enthusiast could wish for, and pithy dialogue that fairly leaps off the page. Stalking the streets of Edinburgh on the trail of a poisoner, Rebus hits upon a freed pedophile and his subsequent outing of the man leaves him with very mixed feelings. But another problem develops for Rebus: a convicted murderer has him in his sights for some lethal games. And the tabloid press lionizing of Rebus won't help him in this situation.
As always, Rankin is perfectly ready to tackle contentious issues--precisely the thing that gives his books their powerful sense of veracity. And Rebus, no longer in danger of having a soap opera-like accumulation of personal problems, seems as fresh and well-observed a character as in those first exhilarating books. Rankin has caught his form again, with even more assurance. --Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
Edinburgh's Det. Insp. John Rebus is beset by troubles from the past and the present in the loose and rangy 11th installment (after The Hanging Garden) of Rankin's popular (and, in England, bestselling) series. At the outset, Rebus, who's been drinking too much, endures frequent visitations from his recently deceased comrade-in-arms, Jack Morton, and suffers helplessly as his daughter struggles to recover from a hit-and-run accident that's left her paralyzed. Rebus's troubles are soon reflected in the old city around him: violent grassroots vigilantism breaks out in a housing project when Rebus informs the press that a convicted child molester is living in one of the flats; Cary Oakes, a serial killer just released from a U.S. prison, returns to Edinburgh; a rising star in the police department dies in an apparent suicide. In addition, as Rebus testifies in a high-profile case of sexual abuse of children, two old school friends ask him to search for their missing son. And as the cop pursues each of these cases, Oakes draws him into a sadistic game of cat-and-mouse. While the many plot lines pull the narrative in disparate directions, the whole is held together by Rankin's drum-tight characterization of Rebus as a man deeply shaken in his convictions, but unwilling to fall apart. Author tour. (Oct.)
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