Ian Rankin - Shastrix Books

Ian Rankin

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Standing in Another Man's Grave

Standing in Another Man's Grave

Ian Rankin

1st June 2022

I really like how easy it is to slip back into the Rebus novels. Rankin has definitely got the right balance of realistic crime novel down for me - we are always aligned with the investigator, so there’s no sense of glorifying the crime, and there’s no sensationalist over emphasis on gore or graphic description.

It feels clear that this is a reactionary return after previously ending the Rebus series. Malcolm Fox, who had his own two novels before this, appears too but seems to have been deliberately turned into an antagonist, generally unlikable and unwanted, compared to Rebus who we as readers are glad to have back in the saddle.

The story is a good one, marred only maybe by the number of car journeys that need to be described. The characters are enjoyable to return to, and there is almost a soap operatic element to how the lives of the various long running characters fit together that I really like.

I’m glad Rankin returned to Rebus, and look forward to continuing to read about his adventures.

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The Impossible Dead

The Impossible Dead

Ian Rankin

5th October 2021

This is the second Malcolm Fox novel, following the story of a police inspector tasked with investigating other police officers. The previous novel was the first Ian Rankin that I read, and I’ve now caught up through his Rebus novels to the point where this pair fit into the timeline.

Initially created to be a new replacement series, meta knowledge now means I know the two merge, so despite some reluctance I picked this one off my shelf to read.

I can barely remember what happened in the first book - but this time out Fox and his colleagues are off to investigate some officers from a neighbouring force after one of their colleagues is arrested.

While Fox is clearly deliberately not Rebus, I found this makes him just too bland to be an inspiring lead character, and his set of colleagues felt a bit too uncomfortable to class as likeable.

It was a slow story that I felt like I had to put effort into reading, rather than flowing smoothly like I’d expect from Ian Rankin. The plot felt a bit too convoluted, and I found myself missing what I’ve been enjoying in the Rebus novels.

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Buy book: UK
Exit Music

Exit Music

Ian Rankin

1st May 2020

Originally marketed as the final Rebus novel, Exit Music covers the final two weeks of Rebus’ career as he approaches retirement, with a collection of unsolved cases hanging over his conscience, and a fresh murder to investigate.

I’ve been off reading crime novels recently, because they became a bit too violent for my liking, but this was much more what I look for - there’s crime, but its not crime that’s celebrated or glorified or too graphic, and the focus is on the investigation - interviewing witnesses and suspects, hunting for clues, and so on.

I’ve grown quite fond of the varying characters over the years reading this series, and would certainly have been sad reading this at the point of publication, although now of course I’m aware that there are more books to come.

Reading this has certainly reinvigorated me to think more about crime and mystery novels. I think there’s a fine line in finding exactly the right tone to pitch at, and Rankin’s totally found it in this novel.

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The Naming of the Dead

The Naming of the Dead

Ian Rankin

23rd January 2019

Book sixteen of Rebus, and this time he’s investigating a crime that nobody else seems to care about, because the victim was a criminal himself.

I found the setting of this book really interesting - it’s set around the G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005, and so the plot of the novel is weaved around real-life events taking place there, with guest appearances by world leaders and the characters lives being shown to be influenced by the events happening both there and elsewhere in the country that week.

The way that Rankin manages to add touches like this to his stories that make each one unique in some way adds to the whole experience for me, and I often feel compelled to pick up his novels when I’m wondering what to read next.

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Fleshmarket Close

Fleshmarket Close

Ian Rankin

29th July 2018

It’s hard to believe I’m fifteen books into the Rebus series - however by this point he and his stories have become like old friends. It’s so easy to dip back in and continue to follow the lives of Rebus and his colleagues as they go about solving the crimes of Edinburgh.

In this book, a series of bodies are uncovered, and one of the key aims is to identify who they were. While the plot is compelling, it’s often other aspects of this series that I enjoy the most, and that’s true again.

In this novel, Rankin makes some quite bold moral statements - although the subject matter of detention centres for immigrants is likely striking a chord with me because of current events in the news, and because I’ve watched a related film in the same week. There’s a lot of stuff to make the reader think, and characters to represent multiple points of view appear through the narrative. To balance this, it also feels like one of the most humour-laden Rebus novels, and I think that certainly helps.

The most telling evidence that I was really enjoying reading this book was that I broke my habit of TV before bed for it - taking it to read outside my normal commuting reading hours. That, at the moment, is the sign of a good book.

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A Question of Blood

A Question of Blood

Ian Rankin

20th January 2018

Deep into the Rebus series, we see the eponymous detective face a novel crime - two schoolboys murdered and another wounded - which hits close to home when he discovers one of the victims is a long lost relative.

It's quite a complex plot with a lot of different strands weaving through, and writing this a few weeks after reading it, I'm not entirely clear in the end quite how it was all wrapped up. Some of the threads are serial ones though rather than specific to this book, and I think it's fascinating how this series has evolved into something that can have continuing plot lines mixed in with the crime of the week.

The Rebus stories are currently my favourite in the crime genre, with characters that are surprisingly likeable and plots that suggest a great understanding of the realities of police work, without feeling like they’ve been particularly livened up for the purposes of telling a story, like some of the more thriller-esque crime novels that I’ve been reading.

A solid novel in a solid series that I really enjoy reading.

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Resurrection Men

Resurrection Men

Ian Rankin

18th March 2017

Ian Rankin's thirteenth Rebus novel sees the maverick Inspector sent back to the police training college after taking one step of rebellion too far with a conveniently located cup of tea. He ends up in a class of similarly reprobate police officers from around Scotland, set a cold case to investigate.

I think the reason I love the Rebus stories is the balance that Rankin inserts of plot specific to the case in question, and plot that reflects the ongoing life of his characters. The number of returning secondary characters who populate the world and make it feel more real than just featuring random guest characters, all of whose lives move on from one story to the next, who grow and change and evolve alongside Rebus.

The specific plot of this story was interesting if perhaps overly complicated. I’m still not entirely sure I know exactly what was going on, but this may have been Rankin's intention - to focus on the characters and some specific plot points while leaving others shrouded in mystery - perhaps for a future novel, though I suspect not.

I enjoyed this adventure - it took us away slightly from the regular pattern of crime novels, and showed us some realism, mixed in with the fiction, that tells a story in an amazingly rich way.

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Other reviewed books

The Falls
Set in Darkness
Dead Souls
The Hanging Garden
Black and Blue
Let it Bleed
Mortal Causes
The Black Book
Strip Jack
Tooth and Nail
Hide and Seek
Knots and Crosses
The Complaints

Unreviewed books

A Good Hanging
A Song for the Dark Times
Bleeding Hearts
Blood Hunt
Doors Open
Even Dogs in the Wild
In A House of Lies
Rather Be The Devil
Saints of the Shadow Bible
Watchman
Witch Hunt

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