A shooting incident at a private school just north of Edinburgh. Two 17-year olds killed by an ex-Army loner who has gone off the rails. As Detective Inspector John Rebus puts it, 'there's no mystery'... except the why. This question takes Rebus into the heart of a shattered community. Ex-Army himself, Rebus becomes fascinated by the killer, and finds he is not alone. Army investigators are on the scene, and won't be shaken off. The killer had friends and enemies to spare - ranging from civic leaders to the local Goths - leaving behind a legacy of secrets and lies. Rebus has his share of personal problems, too. He's fresh out of hospital, hands heavily bandaged, and he won't say how it happened. Could there be a connection with a house-fire and the unfortunate death of a petty criminal who had been harassing Rebus's colleague Siobhan Clarke? Rebus's bosses seem to think so...
©2011 Ian Rankin (P)2014 Orion Publishing Group Limited
Narrative makes the world go round.
- either does light fiction. Rebus is at this point in the series a complicated, fascinating character. Dark, but not depressing, his humanity shines though his gruffness. The supporting cast features many regulars from the series and Siobhan comes into her own in this novel. Rebus peeks into his army days - not glimpsed, I think, since Knots and Crosses.
This listen is best appreciated after at least several of the earlier Rebus novels. The only downside is that there aren't many left to go in the series... I had avoided Rankin because I'd been told that his novels are dark -- but they are not depressing and are rather life affirming overall. Rankin combines the best in modern police procedurals with the best elements of Golden Age detection and elements of a good, traditional Brit/Scot cozy with setting and character detail. Good dialogue too.
Like other later novels in this series, Rankin tackles a social issue along the way. That doesn't get in the way for me, but adds to the listen.
"Learning more about Rebus"
In this Rebus novel we really start to learn more about Rebus himself and what makes him tick. His army background, his failure to get into the SAS and the damage it caused him all go a long way to explaining so much about his character. I love the way his relationship with Siobhan develops in this story, and her realisation that Rebus will always try to solve other people's problems even if it means putting his own career in jeopardy. The plot, as always, is full of twists and turns and kept me guessing until the end.
I'm not so keen on this narrator. He has a Rebus down very well but his younger voices, his females and his accents never convince. Still worth listening to but not as good as James McPherson.
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