- Publisher: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (November 7, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1409144755
- ISBN-13: 978-1409144755
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 476 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,422,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Saints of the Shadow Bible (A Rebus Novel) Paperback – November 7, 2013
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*Starred Review* Rankin took the gutsy step in Standing in Another Man’s Grave (2013) of bringing back his much-loved maverick hero, John Rebus, and setting him opposite Malcolm Fox, internal-affairs cop, hero of The Complaints and The Impossible Dead (both 2011), and, seemingly, Rebus’ polar opposite. That experiment was a resounding success, so, naturally, Rankin ups the ante still further. This time the formerly retired Rebus, now back on the force but at a lesser rank, and Fox, facing the dissolution of his IA unit and the prospect of becoming a real detective again, find themselves working together, taking advantage of a new Scottish law allowing the reprosecution of old crimes by digging into a 30-year-old murder. Ah, but there’s a wrinkle. Rebus was a rookie at the time of the murder, the newbie in a squad of take-no-prisoners detectives who called themselves the Saints, and it looks like the new investigation may implicate the Saints, or at least some of them, in a cover-up or worse. Rebus investigating his buddies and, by extension, himself? Echoing the similar situation in which New Orleans detective Remy McSwain finds himself in Jim McBride’s 1986 film The Big Easy, Rankin’s narrative forces Rebus to come to terms with a shocking truth about himself: he’s a cop first and a maverick second, a truth seeker before a rule breaker. That’s a tough blow for the cantankerous Rebus to absorb, equaled only by the fact that he winds up respecting—even, for God’s sake, liking—the hardworking Fox. Longtime fans of the series will savor every nuance in the subtle interplay between characters here, but Rankin doesn’t forget the thriller plot, either, corkscrewing the narrative into a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Hats off to a writer who can keep a long-running series fresh by upsetting our expectations and rummaging ever deeper into the rag-and-bone shop of his characters’ hearts. --Bill Ott --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
PRAISE FOR STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN'S GRAVE:
"Rankin bangs out a rich, rowdy prose...Rebus has become one of the great modern cops, a kind of Scottish cousin to Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch."―Patrick Anderson, Washington Post
"John Rebus remains one of crime fiction's crankiest, most interestingly complex figures....We can rejoice in Rebus's return--the mean streets of Edinburgh are better for it."―Adam Woog, Seattle Times
"Absorbing....Rankin is a master of the mystery universe."―Carole E. Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Rebus remains as fascinatingly complex and gruffly engaging as ever. Retirement will not suit him, or Rankin's readers."―Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer
PRAISE FOR SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE
"Longtime fans of the series will savor every nuance in the subtle interplay between characters here, but Rankin doesn't forget the thriller plot, either, corkscrewing the narrative into a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Hats off to a writer who can keep a long-running series fresh by upsetting our expectations and rummaging ever deeper into the rag-and-bone shop of his characters' hearts."―Booklist
"[There is] real joy in watching Fox and Rebus dance around each other, acknowledging a burgeoning respectful rapport in spite of themselves, while the ace Siobhan Clarke - more please, Mr. Rankin! - shoulders new responsibilities."―Boston Globe
"Ian Rankin is such a practiced and successful writer...If anything, he is at the top of his game, and Saints of the Shadow Bible is one of the best novels he has produced."―BookReporter
"Rankin shows no signs of losing steam with John Rebus...his interaction with Malcolm Fox works to build empathy for both characters, as fans discover a side of Fox not seen before...Rankin's gift with dialogue, his wit and raw examination of human nature continue to intensify, resulting in a resonant reading experience for both seasoned series devotees and new Rebus recruits."―Shelf Awareness
"This might be the best detective novel of the year."―Dayton Daily News --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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
There is a gloomy, end-of-an-era atmosphere pervading this book. Rebus has rejoined the police after an unsuccessful attempt to retire and a sojourn with the Cold Cases group -- but he had to come back at a lower rank. He's now the subordinate of his former protege, Siobhan Clarke. The younger generation of cops regard Rebus as a dinosaur -- and he also apparently looks at himself that way. -- the Last of the Mohicans so to speak. He continues to smoke at every opportunity (which to me makes him an idiot rather than a dinosaur), drinks too much and bends the rules when it suits him. But he remains a brilliant investigator, devoted to doing the hard work with feet on the ground -- method plus intellect plus instinct.
We learn that Rebus was a member of a group of cops known as the Saints of the Shadow Bible -- who may have murdered a suspect and covered it up back in the early 1980s when policing was done a very different way. Fox is on the trail and originally regards Rebus as a prime suspect but the two forge a partnership based on grudging respect -- mingled with constant mutual suspicion. One of the strengths of the book is that Rebus himself is conflicted between loyalty to former colleagues and his passion for truth -- and justice. Another theme is an implied debate between the politically-correct, rules bound era the police live in now and the free-wheeling atmosphere of 30 years ago when rules were broken but they got results.
The book starts slowly and takes its time getting warmed up. It's as if the author himself is a dinosaur too and like his hero he's going to tell this story his way. There's little of DNA and modern investigative techniques in this book. It's all about a man who loves what he does -- investigating crimes -- and will do whatever it takes to keep doing that as long as he can. He has no life outside of the job -- but neither do Fox or Clarke. He has a broken marriage, an estranged wife and a bunch of unhealthy habits.
I'd feel better about Rebus if Rankin allowed him to try to quit smoking. He's bound to end up in the ER battling a heart attack, lung cancer or emphysema -- or all three -- in the next book in the series if there is one. I know that the smoking habit is Rebus' way of cocking a snook at modernity and saying "I'm going to do it my way or not at all" -- but there's also such a thing as reality and one might expect an intelligent investigator to realize it.
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.
A person’s shopping list tells quite a bit about them. In Rebus’ case, it’s cigarettes and bacon. The combination of Rebus, Siobhan, and Malcolm Fox is both interesting. 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.
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. In the end, it seemed rather flat and uninspired.