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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 9, 2013
When the 'double jeopardy' law is relaxed, the Solicitor General asks Malcolm Fox to reinvestigate a case from the '80s, one involving a young DC Rebus. It had been thought at the time that the officers of Summerhall had tampered with the evidence to allow a murderer to go free - a murderer who also happened to be an informer to the head of the Summerhall team. Meantime, in the present day, Siobhan Clarke and Rebus are back working as a team. With the new rules on retirement age, Rebus has been taken back into CID but has had to take a downgrading to Detective Sergeant, meaning Siobhan now outranks him. They are called out to what looks at first like a straightforward road accident, but a couple of things about the scene make them suspect there may be more to it than that.

When I try to pin down why Rankin is head and shoulders above most crime writers, it really comes down to two things. Firstly, the quality of his writing never wavers - he knows how to tell a good story, his pacing is superb and his plots are always both complex and believable. His characterisation is second to none - Rebus and Clarke have been real people to us for years now, people we feel we know, and Fox is rapidly joining them as just as important a character. They don't perform superhuman feats, nor does every book end with them being saved from hideous danger. There is a realism that makes us believe this is how the police really work - we've even seen Rebus over the years learning to toe the line as the Police Force has tightened up on mavericks and corruption in real life.

Secondly, Rankin has his finger on the political pulse of Scotland - his books always relate to the main concerns of the day, without ever obsessing about them and without ever taking a stance. In this book, there are three parts of the plot that could only be written about at this point in time - the change to 'double jeopardy', the reorganisation of the various regional police forces in Scotland into one national force and, most of all, the campaign for the Scottish Independence referendum. Rankin doesn't beat us about the head with these; he just works them through the plot, as they are worked through Scottish society. So as well as telling a first-rate crime story, Rankin also reflects our society back to us - again, total realism.

I admit it - Rankin always gets five stars from me. When I pick up one of his books, it's in the comfortable knowledge that it will be great. So when I say that this one is the best of his that I've read in years, how can I convince you? I could tell you that we're beginning to get a nostalgic, elegiac strain running through Rebus' story; that we're seeing Siobhan blossom into the fine senior officer we, like Rebus, have always known she would be; that Fox, now moving out of Complaints into CID, is learning to appreciate the basic integrity that underpins Rebus' sometimes casual disregard for the rules. I could say that reading this book will let you understand how the City of Edinburgh is changing now it's a political capital; how the upcoming referendum is filtering through every aspect of Scottish life; how policing methods are changing in this new millennium. Or I could just say this is a well-written enjoyable police procedural with a complex plot that will keep you guessing throughout. But, in short, what I will say is - read the book. Read the book!
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on November 9, 2013
Once again, reading a Rebus novel is like settling down with an old friend; you know you're in good company. This latest outing is a series of complex contrasts with a number of diverse threads to the plot. There's an immediate role reversal with Rebus back in CID, full time but as a Sgt. to Inspector Siobhan Clarke. They still spark off one another and despite Clarke's best efforts, Rebus has his own take and style.

Malcolm Fox from Complaints is working his final case in his 'rubber heel mob' role, conscious that he'll soon be working alongside officers he's investigated. He's looking into a 30 year old murder case where Rebus was a young DC working in a team which knew no boundaries other than those they made. Old style policing where any means was justified and the team swore allegiance on the Bible of the title. Who are the Saints and who are the Sinners? Which way does the moral compass point and how long should allegiances last? Events from the past once again spill over to the present. Fox needs Rebus onside and the relationship between the two differs from their earlier encounters.

An investigation into an unexplained car crash is the initial backdrop for a lively paced story which weaves a complex and highly satisfying mix of past and present, black and white, right and wrong. Set in Edinburgh in the context of current issues around Scottish independence, the whole book has a real time feel.

To fully appreciate some of the relationships and nuances, it would certainly help to have read other Rebus books. The backfill is cursory. But it would work as a stand alone. Once again, this story was worth the wait and I'm only sorry that the next one is likely to be a while longer. A cracking story proving Rankin is still heads above many others in the crime genre and Rebus has got what it takes. A big 5 stars from me.

Copy of my Amazon .uk review.
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on November 11, 2013
John Rebus is back again, again, but this time he's back on the police force and demoted down to DS, which his friend and comrade Siobhan, now a DI, likes to remind him of every so often. In jest of course.

He's really on form this time and I loved every minute of it. As ever, the plot revolves around current events that concern Scotland but with a killer plot to go with it. I liked that Rebus and Fox join forces, I wondered when that would happen and I hope that they continue to have adventures in the future as Fox just got a whole lot cooler. I hope the three of them stick around for a while, at least until Rebus finally retires, as Edinburgh will be a safer place with them around!

It's the little details that I love - Rebus is like a bloodhound when he's on a case but can also provide with some light relief, such as his insistence on biscuits in a meeting or asking out a woman in the most inopportune moment. You get to know the other characters quickly and then you rattle on with the plot, intelligent but without too much navel gazing. And you always know exactly what car everyone is driving as well, you can tell a lot about someone by the car they drive.

This is a rattlingly good story and November is now my favourite month, because it means there's another Rankin ready to download!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 27, 2013
Ian Rankin is a top British crime writer and this is #19 in the extremely successful Inspector Rebus series. Recently I have read a lot of books by popular authors who try to put new life into a series that should be running out of steam. With this book Rankin is doing the same by taking us back to the John Rebus's early days in the police force and reviewing what he really is and what he has become.

John Rebus is back in the force which is his only life. The only way at his age he can continue to work in the force is to take a demotion to Detective Sergeant and he is now working for his old protegé Detective Inspector Siobhan (pronounced shiv-on) Clarke. Their first case together is a car crash where the daughter of an important London businessman is badly injured in a single driver car crash. What is strange is that her seat belt is unbuckled and one of her shoes finished up under the passenger seat, suggesting that someone else was driving and had moved her into the driving seat to cover up his part in the crash. Her boyfriend happens to be the son of Pat McCuskey, the Scottish Justice Minister and a top protagonist in favour of an independent Scotland.

At the same time DI Malcolm Fox of the Complaints Division (their Internal Affairs) is looking at a 30 year old case that involved the detectives at the Summerhall Police Station who were well known for keeping down the crime rate by doing things their way and sometimes bending the law to do this. Rebus was a raw Detective Constable at the time and was recruited to become one of the "Saints of the Shadow Bible" who swore to uphold their own policing standards. Rebus admits that at times he did a few things he now regrets but he was never knowingly involved in really bad things. While initially wary of Fox, John Rebus decides to help him with his investigation with the philosophy of "if you don't like them join them". Surprisingly Rebus and Fox work well together, but with slightly different motivations.

Most of the living members of the Saints are retired and frail, but DI Stefan Gilmour has moved on to become a very rich property developer who is a major proponent of the "No" case for an independent Scotland. Fox's investigations mainly centre on the acquittal of Billy Saunders for murder which he believes was manipulated by the Saints especially because Gilmour resigned from the force at that time. The investigation builds strength when Saunders disappears and is later found shot by a gun known to have been confiscated years ago by one of the Saints.

John Rebus is a enigmatic character who, despite his age, is still at the top of his game but no longer at the top of the force. He is a loner who collects evidence in his own ways and feeds it where it will have the most effect. While he was a member of the Saints he is prepared to look at all of their sins with Fox and make his own judgements.

In my opinion most authors I have read recently attempting a series revival have failed my tests in some way. Ian Rankin passed my tests with flying colours with this very clever and well written Scottish police/crime story which seamlessly mixes the past with the present against a timely backdrop of the current buildup to the referendum for an independent Scotland. While it is part of a series it can easily be read as a standalone story. I recommend this book to all lovers of UK crime stories and to others who want to get a good introduction to this genre.
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The law of double jeopardy in England is reversed and the Solicitor General wants to reopen a case from thirty years back when John Rebus was a young detective sergeant. It involves men who Rebus worked with who had a pact and called themselves the "Saints of the Shadow Bible." This was a time when police had more freedom and could do many things as long as they got results.

Rebus is back from retirement but the only slot open was as a detective sergeant so he accepts that. He works under the woman he had mentored and befriended, Siobhan Clark who is a detective inspector.

There are two layers to the story which begins when a car goes off the road and a young girl is found unconsciousness at the wheel. It appears that she was moved into the driver's seat and the driver fled the scene.

Most of the story takes place in Edinburgh area of Scotland with Rebus being himself, a maverick who is difficult to deal with but gets the job done.

Malcolm Fox from internal affairs, is handling the investigation for the cold case and asks Rebus to work with him. Rebus doesn't want to rat on his old friends but remembers that there was a murder at that time and the accused killer got off due to tainted evidence. His old pals want him to leave the past alone but above all, Rebus feels that justice should be served.

There is a good interplay between characters with dialogue that seems realistic. This makes it easy for the reader to follow as if they were part of the action. The solving of two crimes and the way they connected was well done and added interest to the story.
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on December 12, 2013
Ian Rankin never disappoints and I have loved Rebus from the start. I'm starting to like Fox now as well. Let's hope they get together again soon. Plus the fact I'm from Edinburgh and now live in France so every time I read an Ian Rankin it's a walk down memory lane for me at the same time.
An excellent read and great story line.
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on November 25, 2013
Rebus is not navel gazing any more. Sorry still seems to be the hardest word to say, but he's no longer wallowing in the past. Fox has started hunting murderers and is completing his last case for Complaints. Siobhan has developed into a mature leader, treating Rebus with the affectionate respect an erstwhile mentor deserves.
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on April 28, 2014
Once again Rankin has produced an excellent read with many avenues to be explored. A seemingly straight forward traffic accident but with the powers of Rebus's powers of observation and devious mind many other facets come into play. At first appearance many of the facets seem to lead to different crimes but like a purse string opened wide, in the end by tugging on the strings the whole series of events come to be interconnected and easily go in the purse.

I felt this was an average Rankin novel and thoroughly enjoyed it but never rated it as high as "standing in another man;s grave" because in that story Rankin really went to considerable trouble to set the scene both locally and wider geographically and I felt this gave a lot to the book. However with this book being for the most part set in Edinburgh there is not a lot of scope for variation once you have read earlier Rebus novels set in Edinburgh
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on February 19, 2014
If you're a devoted Ian Rankin fan you'll not be disappointed in this new 'John Rebus' novel. Rebus, a police detective in Scotland, is up to his eyes in trouble - most of it his own making. Its murder and there are multiple lines of investigation, some of it related and some not. Its a super mystery - something in which Rankin excels. The writing is terrific; the sentences short and to the point. Rankin has been writing Scottish crime novels for a long time - The John Rebus character is one for the ages. His partner over the years has been young Siobhan Clarke - she is now a Detective Inspector and Rebus' boss - But Rebus plays by his own rules and follows his own path - he is a truly unmanageable subordinate. Its a fast-paced mystery - one that is very enjoyable.
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on May 2, 2014
this review will probably be more meaningful to those who've read the entire rebus series. a new rebus novel is a lot like slipping into an old pair of comfortable slippers. beyond a top notch plot, we get to peel a few more layers off the damaged rebus emotional onion, and we get a glimpse into a social issue that would otherwise fly beneath our radar.

rebus is back, yet he's not.

in the previous novel rebus was working as a civilian assigned to a cold cases unit and was by and large roaming the scottish countryside in search of a serial killer and the edinborough that figured prominently in all the previous rebus novels (with the exception of tooth and nail) was largely absent. rebus is regularly meeting arch-nemesis big ger cafferty (conspicuous by his absence from SotSB) for a drink. there was no real social/national issue lurking beneath the surface of the plot; it was more about exploring how families deal with loss ion different ways.

rebus is now back, still cranky and capable of badinage with the best of them. he's back roaming edinborough, back in CID. but at a reduced rank with the result of siobhan outranking him. and there's more: edinborough itself has now changed - at all the old haunts, be it a bar or a police station where he was formerly stationed, few familiar faces can be found. there's even no mention of big ger cafferty. now when rebus deals with a crime boss, it's with the fresh faced kid who ousted frank hamill in the previous novel. the inspector fox who had it in for rebus in the previous novel & rebus become reluctant allies. but most of all, rebus really can't go home - back to when he first joined CID in summerhall, where he had an affair with the wife of one of his superiors. instead. he ends up bringing to light a crime that discredits the entire lot of officers he worked with when he first joined CID.

and underlying all these changes is the issue of secession from the united kingdom. it's hard to know which is foreshadowing which.
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