Ian Rankin has produced a believable, complex and flawed star for his John Rebus series. He sets an authentic scene – an Edinburgh happily not experienced by the tourist, but very real – and even a map of the city. There are real locations in the story, real places which the author appears to know well.
When you read one of the Rebus books you know you are going to be entertained, drawn in and not quite sure how it will all end up. And because Rebus seems real with his own interests, his foibles and his manner we are engaged in trying to outthink him.
As a character study Inspector Rebus poses some interesting questions about the contrariness of human nature and his choice of career. The villains are suitably villainous and the other main characters, while not sketched in in such depth (which is unnecessary), do act as foils and stand out in their own right. There are problems in being a police officer, some of which we can all relate to.
But the book is not all bleak, there are flashes of sardonic humour and there is no gratuitous violence. The violence portrayed is needed as the plot unfolds – and Ian Rankin does have to get us to turn the pages to find out what happens next. He does this very well. An easy read, entertaining and interesting.
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