Hide & Seek by Ian Rankin

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Hide & Seek by Ian Rankin

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The second Rebus novel finds the detective investigating the death of a drug addict. Important only because of the series as a whole it's a book for the completist or the real fan as there are better books later in the series.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: September 2005
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-0752877174

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In an Edinburgh squat a drug addict is found dead, with the body laid out in the shape of a cross and candles at each side. A five-pointed star has been daubed on the wall over his head. It doesn't look like murder until Detective Inspector John Rebus starts to chip away at the indifference and sleaze that's covering the case.

This is the second of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels published some four years after the first. Rankin and Rebus had still not gripped the public consciousness and it's unlikely that either of these two books would have stood the test of time were it not for the books which followed, but this is the first occasion when it seems to have crossed Rankin's mind that he was actually writing crime rather than general fiction.

There's a bigger cast of characters than in Knots and Crosses, to the extent that it feels rather crowded at times. The contrasts are good – the junkies living in squalid squats close to, but a world away from the tourist Edinburgh which is all that most people see and the financially secure business men. It's the picture of the city itself which will stay with me the longest – the real Edinburgh, warts and all, but Rankin's love of it shines through.

The plotting has improved since Knots and Crosses. There's more pace, more sense of purpose about the book although the ending did seem rather rushed. There's not the finesse that you find in the later books but there are signs that there's some potential there.

So, should you read it? If you're serious about the Rebus novels then you're going to want to but it is perfectly possible to come into the series at a later point and still derive a great deal of enjoyment from them. There is a background story which runs throughout the series but not reading the earlier novels won't leave you wondering what's happening in the later novels. This isn't a book you're likely to reread and you may want to borrow rather than buy or if you're determined to buy then look for the omnibus edition Rebus: the Early Years which contains the first three novels in the series.

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