Rather be the Devil by Ian Rankin
|Rather be the Devil by Ian Rankin|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The 21st Inspector John Rebus sees him out of the police but still doing the same job. You might have to suspend disbelief about the access he has, but it's still an excellent read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320/10h48m||Date: November 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
It's forty years since Maria Turquand was murdered. She was beautiful, a bright light and promiscuous - and she was strangled in Edinburgh's Caledonian Hotel on the night that a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there. Her killer was never found: it's been preying on John Rebus' mind and it comes into conversation on the night that Rebus and his lady friend are dining at the Galvin Brasserie at the Cally. It's better than thinking about his health: he's got COPD and there's something on his lung which he calls Hank Marvin. Think about it.
He's not with the police any more, but that doesn't stop him being interested - well involved would probably be more accurate - when there are disturbances in the dark heart of Edinburgh's underworld. Darryl Christie has been seen as the coming man of late, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable. There's an enquiry into a major money-laundering scheme which threatens him. But what's Big Ger Cafferty's position in all this? He's looked as though he was retiring recently, but is he looking to make a comeback?
DI Siobhan Clarke and DI Malcolm Fox aren't entirely certain whether or not they appreciate Rebus's 'help', but it's obvious that no matter how good they are, it's Rebus who has the best local knowledge, contacts and pure instinct for what's going on: he's also got an appropriately twisted mind. Not carrying a warrant card doesn't stop him from acting as a policeman. You will have to suspend disbelief to some extent about the access Rebus has as a civilian - but it's a small price to pay for a darned good story. As always with Rankin the issues are of the moment - the ongoing effects of the banking crisis and money laundering - but only to the extent that they're part of the wider story rather than dominating it.
The book reads well as a stand alone and there are no spoilers for earlier books in the series, but you will get more out of it if you know some of the history of the people involved. If by any chance you haven't read the Rebus books (where have you been?) then it's a rewarding series which gains strength through the first three or four books and has maintained it ever since. It is one of the great police procedural series if not the greatest.
Rather than read the book I listened to an audio download which I bought myself. It was narrated by James Macpherson. He has a reasonable range of voices and was easy to listen to, but I was occasionally confused as to who was speaking, particularly when it was a choice between Rebus and Fox. It was a small point though and only required the occasional rewind to find out who was centre stage.
For another police procedural series, set mostly in Edinburgh and which is also available as audio downloads we can recommend Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner Novels.
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