Skinner's Rules by Quintin Jardine

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Skinner's Rules by Quintin Jardine

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The first in the long-running Bon Skinner series is a good opener: not perfect but a good story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 12h 32m Date: June 2009
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0755357703

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Detective Chief Superintendent Bob Skinner is called out to a particularly brutal murder in an alleyway just off Edinburgh's Royal Mile. The victim was a lawyer and he's been savagely mutilated. There's nothing in the cases he's fought which suggests an angry client, but plenty to suggest that the killer knew what he was doing: there are simply no clues as to who he is. This death is followed by other seemingly random killings, including a young policeman and it looks as though there's a serial killer on the loose. Then the lawyer's fiancee dies: the official verdict is that it's suicide, but Skinner is convinced that it's another murder - and he knows that there's been nothing random about the killings.

By a third of the way through the book we have someone firmly in the picture for the murder and the case apparently closed. If the book had finished at this point you'd have been well-pleased by a darned good story, but Skinner's brain is tricked into life by a chance remark from girl friend Dr Sarah Grace and he realises that there's more - a lot more - to the case and that they've all been fooled. What follows is part police procedural and part thriller as Skinner works his way through the political machinations of Scotland's elite.

I'm in the unusual situation of having read the final books in the series - and deciding to go back to the beginning and fill in the gaps. I was prepared for disappointment - after all, I knew how a lot of Skinner's private life turned out, and this was the first in the series, a canter round the track before the horse got warmed up, so to speak. It didn't work out quite like that though. The plotting is proficient and better than say the first Inspector Rebus and the characterisation is good, although I did find the police team to be just a little too good. On the other hand, many of them will feature in later books and it was interesting to see the early days of the relationship. As a series opener, it's a good one.

Rather than reading the book, I bought an audio download, narrated by James Bryce. I'm always nervous of audio books where the cast is likely to be heavy on one particular type of character - in this case it's middle-aged Scotsmen - as few narrators have the skill to sufficiently differentiate the voices, but I'd listened to Private Investigations from the same series and also narrated by Bryce - I knew he was up to the job and he didn't disappoint.

If you're looking for another police procedural series which you can enjoy as an audio download, you might like to try Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler Novels.

Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner Novels in Chronological Order

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