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review 2018-05-28 20:53
Rebus finds himself in his most tangled case yet
Fleshmarket Alley - Ian Rankin

Rebus had never seen children in a mortuary before, and the sight of« fended him. This was a place for professionals, for adults, for the widowed. It was a place for unwelcome truths about the human body. It was the antithesis of childhood.

 

Then again, what was childhood to the Yurgii children but confusion and desperation?

 

Which didn’t stop Rebus pinning one of the guards to the wall. physically, of course, not using his hands. But by dint of placing himself: an intimidating proximity to the man and then inching forward, until the guard had his back to the wall of the waiting area.

 

“You brought kids here?” Rebus spat.

 

This -- even by Rebus' standards -- is a dark book, but we keep finding Rebus pushing back against it. It actually almost seems against his character -- the cynicism and pessimism that is so definitive of him seems frequently absent. That's not a bad thing -- it's just a little strange when you stop and think about it. Of course, there's an easy line to draw between idealism and cynicism, and Rebus has always been an absolutist about justice -- and doesn't let much stand in his way to pursue it. This time there's a lot more injustice that he seems to be targeting. Something about this murder that has gotten under his skin.

 

Maybe it's because he knows it could be one of the last cases he's involved in -- St. Leonard's has been reorganized and no longer has a CID, so the detectives have been reassigned throughout the city. He and Clarke were sent somewhere that reminds them on a regular basis that they're not welcome -- Rebus doesn't even get a desk. The message is clear: he should retire. Fat chance of that happening while he can say anything about it.

 

Which leads to Rebus jumping in to help some old friends investigate the what appears to be a race-based murder, which ends up opening up a tangled web of crimes in so many circles it's difficult to summarize (I deleted a couple of attempts to do that because they ended up undreadable) while staying spoiler-free. Just know that pretty much everywhere Rebus goes, he's going to find something else that's very, very wrong. The more Rebus learns about the victim -- and his life -- the less likely the fact that he's Kurdish seems to play in his killing, but it's inescapable -- the press, other police, and every one he talks to about the case won't stop bringing it up. It's easier for everyone when first impressions are right, but when you can't make the facts fit the narrative, you'd better have a detective like John Rebus around to actually get somewhere.

 

Siobhan meanwhile, gets involved in a couple of things that aren't really cases but end up dragging her into one. First, she starts doing a favor for a couple she knew years ago when their daughter was raped and later committed suicide. Now their younger daughter has gone missing and they fear the worst. Also, there's a couple of skeletons uncovered in Fleshmarket Alley that have an interesting story to tell. One thing leads to another and Siobhan becomes involved in a murder investigation that while not connected to Rebus' keeps the two of them brushing into one another at interesting points.

 

We also get to see Big Ger for a few minutes, and isn't that always fun?

 

There's some odd tension between Rebus and Siobhan in these pages -- something that feels natural, organic. They're not as static as Spenser and Hawk (for one bad example), with differing goals, aspirations, etc. It's good to see this dimension to their relationship, really. It makes be believe in them more.

 

Dark, tangled, well-paced, oddly timely for something written over a decade ago, and so wonderfully constructed that you really can't believe it when all the pieces start to fall in place. Fleshmarket Alley/Close is just one more bit of evidence that Ian Rankin is a master of his craft.

 

 

2018 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/05/28/fleshmarket-alley-by-ian-rankin-rebus-finds-himself-in-his-most-tangled-case-yet
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text 2018-05-23 03:47
Mayyyybe they should’ve picked another book
Fleshmarket Alley - Ian Rankin

 

I don't know if you can read that too well -- it's a picture I snapped of a page from Fleshmarket Alley by Ian Rankin and the defacing left by a fellow Nampa Public Library patron. This particular Rebus reader wrote "LOVE LOVE LOVE" over the word "hate."

 

Every time the word shows up.

 

(well, every time so far -- I've got another 50 pages to go, they might have missed one)

 

Given that it's a book about a cynical, negative detective investigating what looks like a racially motivated murder with a truckload of racist suspects (and maybe a less-than-PC investigator or two on the case), there's a more than a couple of opportunities for this patron to pencil in this correction.

 

I'm not sure that I completely understand the impulse to replace hate with love, love, love -- but I sorta get the gist. However, in almost every case here, it's actually undercutting the subject matter. (I think one of the references was to hating some kind of food or music)

 

If you're this hung-up on that word, maybe crime fiction isn't for you, eh?

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/05/22/mayyyybe-they-shouldve-picked-another-book
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review 2018-05-12 18:26
Daughter of the Mountains - Louise S. Rankin,Kurt Wiese

All that Momo ever wanted was a dog. Whenever she finally gets one, the dog is kidnapped. Momo must travel across the country by herself in order to bring back her dog safely.

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review 2018-05-01 01:56
Rebus Deals with Gun Violence on Multiple Fronts
A Question of Blood - Ian Rankin

I'm torn between quotations to open with, on the one hand, you have this one which captures the environment this novel takes place in -- it's a perfect encapsulation of the frustration of so many civilians. Particularly the ones in the town near the focal crime.

 

Fear: the crucial word. Most people would live their whole lives untouched by crime, yet they still feared it, and that fear was real and smothering. The police force existed to allay such fears, yet too often was shown to be fallible, powerless, on hand only after the event, clearing up the mess rather than preventing it.

 

On the other hand, this seems to be the perfect encapsulation of the sentiments of Rebus, Clarke, Hogan and so many (most?) of the police in this novel (and most police novels in general):

 

He checked the radio to see if anything bearable was being broadcast, but all he could find were rap and dance. There was a tape in the player, but it was Rory Gallagher, Jinx, and he wasn't in the mood. Seemed to remember one of the tracks was called “The Devil Made Me Do It.” Not much of a defense these days, but plenty of others had come along in Old Nick‘s place. No such thing as an inexplicable crime, not now that there were scientists and psychologists who’d talk about genes and abuse, brain damage and peer pressure. Always a reason . . . always, it seemed, an excuse.

 

So the story is, an ex-SAS soldier walks in to a school, shoots three students and then kills himself. One of the students -- the son of a local politician -- survives. His dad sees this crime as an opportunity to get himself out of some PR trouble and some prominence -- so he keeps popping up in inopportune places to grandstand and shine a negative light on the police. Which goes a long way to make a complicated situation worse for Bobby Hogan -- the detective running the investigation. There's not much to investigate, the only surviving witness has told his story, the culprit is dead -- but there's a lot of why questions floating around, Hogan's got to try to answer some of them. Hogan knows two things: 1. His friend John Rebus was almost an SAS soldier, so he might understand the mindset of this man better than the rest, and 2. Rebus could use an excuse to get out of Edinburgh for a few days. The Army's in town, doing what it can to shape the narrative -- i.e. "this isn't the way we train our men to be, maybe there's something else going on." Hogan's having trouble getting anywhere, the press isn't helping, and the evidence isn't doing wonders for anyone at all.

 

I liked the fact that we're dealing with Rebus's military past again -- it's largely been untouched (at least to any real depth) since Knots & Crosses, and conversations between Rebus and Clarke show that he hasn't talked to her about it at all. As much as the first book might have helped Rebus deal with some of what happened to him, it's clear that there's more t do. Hopefully, this is the start of it -- at least to help him.

 

The more this crime is investigated, the less it looks as cut-and-dry as it was at the beginning. This was all wonderfully constructed, a strong multi-layered story that'll keep the reader glued to the action to find out what happened (or why it happened). And it's really not the best part of the novel -- it could've been, easily. But no.

 

The reason that Rebus could use a few days away from home base is that he has a mysterious injury. One that could have a completely innocent explanation -- or one that puts him at the center of a suspicious death investigation. There's this creep who's been stalking Clarke, threatening her. Rebus is seen at a bar with him one night, and the next day, he's dead and Rebus is getting medical care that suggests he could have been present at the time of death. Clarke and Hogan believe him because he says he didn't do it. Good ol' Gill Templar isn't sure (raising the question: who knows him best? Siobhan or Gill?), and frankly, none of Rebus' legion of enemies in the police or press are less sure than Templar. There's a little question about letting Siobhan fight her own battles rather than take the avuncular and/or misogynistic approach of helping her. The two get past that pretty quickly, but Clarke harbors a doubt or two about Rebus' involvement.

 

Rebus, actually, wasn't that concerned with protecting Clarke -- he just used that situation to help him with another investigation. Which is typical of him. It's this last story that's really -- in a way -- the center of the whole novel. The events investigated, the motives for a lot of it, and the emotional core are all tied (at the very least) to this story. Rankin's structuring of the novel in this way shows him at his best. And that's really all I can say without ruining the experience for anyone (in fact, I arguably said too much).

 

Then there's the last chapter == which is all I'm going to say about it -- I'm torn. On the one hand, it seems to undercut a lot of the emotional weight of the climactic moments. But that doesn't mean it wasn't believable. It's probably more believable than the alternative. Still .. . it left me dissatisfied. On the other hand, Rankin seems to be setting us up to revisit many of these characters in the future. I bet that'll be worth it.

 

It's hard to come up with things to talk about in a series that's 14 books-old. It's got to be hard to come up with things to talk about with a character that's 14 books-old. Which might be part of the reason that Rankin circled back for another look at the end of Rebus' time with the SAS, which definitely could use another look. How he did it -- and the situations the characters found themselves in regarding that case,and all the others going on -- is what makes Ian Rankin the modern legend that he is. A Question of Blood is one of those books that improves, the more you think about it.

 


2018 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/30/a-question-of-blood-by-ian-rankin-rebus-deals-with-gun-violence-on-multiple-fronts
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review 2018-04-25 21:39
Wow! It's Great Being a Duck - Joan Rankin
(spoiler show)

Lillee is a bit of a rebel-- she doesn't have any desire to learn to swim or fly like her siblings, but wishes to go about things her own way. Wandering about while her brothers and sister are learning to swim, she encounters Mr. Furry-legs who shows her where some tasty nasturtium leaves are because she needs to get plumper. Day after day she wanders in the forest and meets this same friendly creature who shows her where something yummy to munch on is. One day Lillee realizes this is the very same bad guy her mother warned her about and suddenly understands staying with her family, learning to swim and fly isn't such a bad idea after all.

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