Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

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Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Rebus is back in CID, only he's now a sergeant and Siobhan Clarke is his boss - and he has to work with Malcolm Fox from Complaints. It's all set against a background of upheaval in the police force in Scotland - and the possibility of independence.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Orion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1409144748

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Charlie Watts said that being in the Rolling Stones for fifty years consisted of a decade drumming and four decades waiting for something to happen. John Rebus - back in CID - is feeling much the same way as business is slow. He's had to come back in as a sergeant, but being back was what was important. He's not even that worried about working for Siobhan Clarke when their positions used to be reversed. On the other hand he's not pleased when Inspector Malcolm Fox from Professional Standards (or whatever they're calling themselves this week) investigates what happened some thirty years before at a station where Rebus was the new sergeant (first time round...). Fox himself isn't in the best of positions though - he's on his way back to CID where he knows that he's going to be loathed by everyone for the job he's been doing.

There's not much going on in CID and Rebus is almost relieved when he goes to the site of a road traffic accident. A young woman has been taken to hospital after her car left the road. She's not seriously injured, but something doesn't sit right for Rebus. Was Jessica Traynor driving and if not why didn't whoever was driving get help for her? Her boyfriend is the son of a senior politician and Jessica's father has something of a reputation for dealing with problems in his own, rather violent way. Throw into the mix the fact that Scottish police forces have been reorganised and the political turmoil surrounding the referendum on Scottish independence and there's not a lot of certainty about anything.

Ian Rankin has a great deal of talent for tapping into the heart of what's really happening in Edinburgh, from political angst created by the referendum, down to frustration created by the construction work for the Edinburgh Tram Project. It sits neatly against the political decision to investigate what happened some thirty years before. There's no doubt that a lot of what went on was questionable - to say the least - but policing was different in those days and there was a widely-held view that the end did justify the means. What was wrong with getting a villain off the streets, even if rules had to be bent to do it? And what part did Rebus play in all this? Is he a saint or a sinner?

The pace is perhaps a little slower than I'm used to with Rankin, but it's none the worse for that and did allow for the development of the relationship between Rebus and Fox as the two alcoholics - one recovering and the other functioning - come head to head. I wouldn't class this as one of the best Rebus books, but it's ingenious and a good read. And one of Rankin's lesser books can still beat the hell out of most of the competition. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For the beginning of a promising police procedural series we can recommend Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes.

Ian Rankin's Inspector John Rebus novels in chronological order

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