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Fleshmarket Alley Hardcover – February 2, 2005

82 customer reviews
Book 15 of 20 in the Inspector Rebus Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Edinburgh of Insp. John Rebus has more than its share of violent crimes involving drugs and gangs, but there's always another layer of institutional vice and corruption. As Rebus says, "[W]e spend most of our time chasing something called 'the underworld,' but it's the overworld we should really be keeping an eye on." In Edgar-winner Rankin's 15th novel to feature the moody, dogged detective (after 2004's A Question of Blood), a Kurdish refugee's death in a dreary housing estate leads Rebus into a labyrinthine plot involving a modern-day version of the slave trade. As has been the trend in recent Rebus novels, colleague Siobhan Clarke assumes a more central role, this time investigating the disappearance of the sister of a rape victim who later committed suicide. These mysteries begin to intertwine when Rebus and Clarke are called to a pub on Fleshmarket Close where two skeletons have been exhumed. As always, Rankin is deft with characterization and wit, but here he juggles too many narrative balls. The story lines are slow to gestate, and their complexity undermines the book's momentum. Still, Rebus remains one of the more compelling characters in crime fiction—and Rebus's Edinburgh one of the more compelling settings.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

In Fleshmarket Alley (after 2004’s A Question of Blood, ***1/2 May/June 2004, and the Edgar Award-winning Resurrection Men), Rankin deals with horrific subjects: illegal immigration, racism, political asylum, bureaucracy, detention housing, and a networked criminal underworld. Described as "the Dickens of Edinburgh," Rankin explores the city’s fleshmarket—the trade in humans and plight of asylum seekers. His expertly plotted crimes come together as usual, and their confluence provides some of the book’s memorable moments. A great ear for dialogue and a deep look into the psychology of everyone from cops to murderers illuminate Edinburgh society. Even some formulaic elements barely dampened critical response to Rebus’s latest adventure.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Rebus Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (February 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316095656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316095655
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In "Fleshmarket Alley," by Ian Rankin, Detective Inspector John Rebus and Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke join forces to find the killer of a recent immigrant, the whereabouts of a missing young woman, and the origin of two skeletons found under a cement floor. Does Scotland bring to mind kilts, bagpipes, and bonnie lassies? Well, think again. According to Rankin, Glasgow is one of the murder capitals of the world. "Fleshmarket Alley" is filled with gangsters, racists, sexual predators, and more than a few common criminals.

John Rebus is close to being put out to pasture. Since his bosses have no use for him, he finds himself in Knoxland, a run-down, fetid, and crime-ridden housing development in Edinburgh. Knoxland has become a dumping ground for desperate refugees seeking asylum in Scotland; it is now a crime scene where an unidentified man was brutally stabbed to death. Meanwhile, a desperate couple has enlisted Siobhan to find their eighteen-year-old daughter, Ishbel, who packed a bag a week earlier and disappeared without a word.

Rebus is an inspector of the old school. He has a wide range of contacts, both legitimate and shady, whom he calls upon for inside information. It is amazing that Rebus can take a breath or stand up, since he seems to smoke and drink constantly. However, he is as sharp as ever, and what he lacks in youth, he makes up for in instinct, experience, and dogged persistence.

"Fleshmarket Alley" is a frank and disturbing look at the seamier side of Scotland. Rankin's characters range from racists who want all immigrants to go back "where they came from" to greedy opportunists who enrich themselves at the refugees' expense.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Merritt VINE VOICE on February 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the first time I've read anything by Ian Rankin, and based on this book I'd rate him right up there with my three other favorite British mystery writers: P.D. James, Elizabeth George, and, of course, Agatha Christie.

And I needed a new mystery writer! Agatha hasn't written anything for quite some time (could be because she's dead), P.D. James hasn't had anything new (is she still writing?), and Elizabeth George is still working but I just couldn't wait any longer for her next book.

So it was with a great deal of pleasure that I was given an advanced reading copy of Fleshmarket Alley to review.

Why do I find British mystery writers so much better than their American counterparts? I know that a lot of people will take umbrage with this comment, but I always enjoy the British authors' writing styles compared to those in the States (if you agree with this sentiment, I have no doubt you'll enjoy this novel).

I found the story's complexity, depth, and length (a comfortable 420 pages) a very satisfying read. I don't know much about detective Rebus, but this book makes me want to read all of Mr. Rankin's earlier novels based on this character (starting with Knots and Crosses). This is my favorite type of murder mystery; it's not important who did the dastardly deed, it's the road to discovery as to why the murder(s) took place that make it a rich reading experience.

I also found this novel especially intriguing because of the political and sociological atmosphere (in Scotland) that surrounds the action and investigation-which gives you a lot to ponder, besides just the murders.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Flora McDonald on February 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have been reading Ian Rankin's books since his first Rebus book was published.However, I visit Edinburgh every year and purchase his books there. "Fleshmarket Alley" is "Fleshmarket Close" in the books published in the UK and somehow the US versions lose something (at least to me). It is great to be able to relate to the places that are mentioned in the books.Edinburgh is a beautiful city and Rankin brings both the good and the not so good to life. I was lucky enough to purchase Fleshmarket Close when it hit Waterstone's books in Edinburgh. It is another great Rebus saga and Ian Rankin's fans in the US won't be disappointed---even though some words have been changed for the US.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Fletcher VINE VOICE on November 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ian Rankin isn't the bestselling mystery writer in the UK for nothing. His main man (alter ego?) Inspector John Rebus is a living, breathing anachronism in a jaded world and it is a pleasure to travel in his orbit, even if it means being drunk an awful lot of the time, or so it seems. Rebus is one of those people who has apparently reached an equilibrium with his booze and has achieved a certain ability to operate where most of us would be on our faces. This book could drive you to join Rebus with its unstinting look at the treatment of immigrants and refugees in Scotland and elsewhere in the world and the vulnerability at the hands of a system where they are easily prey to fleshmongers and slave traders. It isn't a pretty picture and it isn't a pretty book, but the story is clean and solid and the story is one that absolutely needs to be told.

The murder that starts this book is almost incidental to the journey of discover that it causes for Rebus and his compatriots. There is a subordinate story that may or may not hook into the primary murder involving the search for a missing girl. It is a heartbreaking development following the suicide of her sister, who was raped and never mentally recovered from the ordeal. The rapist is now out of prison and we don't know what to make of this information. Did he nab her as well? When he turns up dead, she moves from potential hostage to potential murderer...but nobody can find her.

This is more quickly paced than most Rebus books and with denser plotting. You don't need to know Scotland to read this effectively, but it is a good idea to keep track of the story locations in your mind. It might tend to get a little confusing, and "place" means everything to the effectiveness of this story. As if that weren't enough, there is also a very unusual potential romance for Rebus in this book that will have you scratching your head right along with him!
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