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Publisher's Summary

Rebus investigates a cold case that just turned red hot.

As he settles into an uneasy retirement, Rebus has given up his favorite vices. There's just one habit he can't shake: He can't let go of an unsolved case. It's the only pastime he has left, and up until now it's the only one that wasn't threatening to kill him. But when Rebus starts reexamining the facts behind the long-ago murder of a glamorous woman at a luxurious hotel - on the same night a famous rock star and his entourage were also staying there - the past comes roaring back to life with a vengeance.

And as soon as Rebus starts asking questions about the long forgotten crime, a fresh body materializes. His inquiries reunite him with his old pals - Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox - as they attempt to uncover the financial chicanery behind the savage beating of an upstart gangster, a crime that suggests the notorious old school crime boss Big Ger Cafferty has taken to retirement as poorly as Rebus himself.

As he connects the mysteries of the past to those of the present, Rebus learns - the hard way - that he's not the only one with an insatiable curiosity about what happened in that hotel room 40 years ago and that someone will stop at nothing to ensure that the crime remains ancient history.

A twisted tale of power, corruption, and bitter rivalries in the dark heart of Edinburgh, Rather Be the Devil showcases Rankin and Rebus at their unstoppable best.

©2016 Ian Rankin (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"It is sensational...this story truly sings." (Vick Mickunas, Dayton Daily News)

"Rankin's procedurals are strong, well-constructed, page-turning mysteries, and his latest is no exception." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"As always, Rankin delivers some fascinating procedural details, but the heart of the book - and its main appeal to crime-fiction readers - lies in the evolving personal relationships between the three cops and one bad guy. The switching of roles between Rebus and Clark continues to intrigue, but even better is the transformation of Fox from a behind-the-scenes guy...into a real cop working the mean streets." (Booklist)

"For many longtime fans of Rankin's series, James MacPherson IS the voice of Inspector John Rebus, and with good reason. At book Number 21 in the series, MacPherson perfectly blends Rebus’s tough-guy exterior and insecure interior, exposing the complex layers of Rankin's much-loved character.... MacPherson has had plenty of practice perfecting Rebus, and his performance of the supporting characters, especially the antagonists, is superb. With atmosphere, pacing, and authentic emotion, MacPherson makes this audiobook an engrossing listen for old and new fans alike." (AudioFile)  

What listeners say about Rather Be the Devil

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

New Rebus release was a nice surprise!

Back to the basics. Still lots of fight left in our two favorite old enemies. !!! Loved !

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I don't want this series to end

I can't believe there are no more Rebus books now until the brilliant Ian Rankin is able to give us another. Which I hope he does ASAP.

This book was fabulous. A lot of loose ends got tied up and one loose end suddenly turn into a revived problem. I hope this means Rebus, and Siobhan, and Malcolm all come back, too.

As usual, the narration was beyond excellent. I just finished listening to the entire series and I believe I must now dream in James MacPherson's voice.

A totally brilliant body of work.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Multiple Characters Makes for Narrator Challenge

This narrator's voice has always been a challenge, but in this novel he's been stretched beyond his abilities I fear. Before it was a delightful color touch to a Scotland based series.

In this case, I turned the narrative speed to 50% and I still struggled This was especially true as we weaved between multiple scenes with varying characters involved. Only in scenes with Clark, Rebus, and Cafferty did I immediately know who was in the room with me. It was terribly disconcerting. I had to flounder for minutes to figure it out. Is this the resder's or the author's fault?

I determined it was the lack of character voices chosen (or not chosen) by the narrator to distinguish them from each other. They sounded so much alike at each scene beginning.

Rankin left several threads unanswered but that is the author's right and I am okay with that.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Time for Rebus to retire

Only diehard Rebus fans will enjoy this one. Uninteresting plot, completely predictable -- I was actually bored. The characters are all just doing their predictable shtick, and Rankin strains credulity finding ways to keep Rebus involved in what the real cops are doing. Enough already. Siobhan deserves front and center.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Are drinks really offered at every criminals house?

I love the Rebus books, and this is a decent addition. But thee are some tropes I’ve grown weary of. At least 10 pages of the book must be devoted to people getting drinks and/or biscuits. I know that’s always the case here, but it felt more like he needed to kill pages. I’d also like it if they stopped bringing Ger and Daryl into every case. But maybe it’s the only way to get Rebus involved. Performance was great as always

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing. Rankin phoning it in.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Somebody who hasn't read all the Rebus books. I'm tired of Big Ger and Darryl Christie. And I really dislike Malcolm Fox. He's a complete dud of a character.

Would you ever listen to anything by Ian Rankin again?

I've been reading Rebus since day one of the series, which goes back a ways, so most likely I'll give any more outings a chance. BUT I will read them, not listen to them. This narrator simply doesn't have the voice talent to do audio books with more than three characters.

How could the performance have been better?

This narrator isn't a voice artist. He has a lovely voice, and a lovely accent, but when it comes to making different characters sound distinct from one another, he just can't do it. A dialogue between Rebus and Fox is confusing as hell because he reads it all in the same voice. And every "big guy" or "bad guy" sounds exactly like Cafferty. Really disappointing.

What character would you cut from Rather Be the Devil?

Oh my god, let's have a break from Cafferty and Christie both. PLEASE. And for that matter, I never warmed to Malcolm Fox - he's dull. So the trio of Clark, Fox and Rebus just does nothing for me. Boring.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Accent Difficult to Understand

I usually don't have problems with accents from different parts of England and Ireland, but this one would need a translator for the performance. Didn't get beyond 10 minutes.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Narrator

Would you consider the audio edition of Rather Be the Devil to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version

What did you like best about this story?

I always love the diversity of characters in his books

What didn’t you like about James Macpherson’s performance?

His accent is so heavy that it distracted me from the actual story. The tone of his voice always sounded rather tongue in cheek, even at inappropriate times.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Sorry I was unable to finish this book.

Any additional comments?

I just think that narrator should be aware that there are many listeners who will be unable to understand his accent.
Love Mr. Rankins books, I'll just make sure I listen to a sample before ordering another.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • ES
  • 02-22-17

difficult accent

Any additional comments?

I have enjoyed reading several of the Rebus novels. However the Scot accent of the narrator forces the listener to concentrate on deciphering words and missing comprehension of the story,

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great from start to finish.

I picked up the Rebus series with the narrator James Macpherson. Never disappointed. I know I will have to go all the way back to book one.... Ian Rankin’s intriguing characters and their stories are definitely worth the trip....but oh how I miss James’s voice!