has set himself a major challenge with RESURRECTION MEN and he
is equal to the task'.
RANKINS 'RESURRECTION MEN'
Brown Hardcover, FEB.03
The 13th full-length
novel in the Inspector John Rebus series RESURRECTION MEN
by Scots author Ian Rankin I am excluding his Rebus short stories
A GOOD HANGING and his Rebus novella DEATH IS NOT THE END is
a fiendishly intricate intrigue where Rebus could either be a pawn or
the queen. Obliged to go undercover at a reform center - for policemen
who have blotted their escutcheons - as a seemingly ostracized
bent copper Rebus is forced to play both ends against the middle
in a war of nerves against other transgressive detectives/ defectives,
some of them likely to be corrupt, and on the take, in actuality.
Rebuss surname fails adequately to describe the whisky-drenched,
tobacco-stained middle-aged Detective Inspector, for he is neither an
enigma nor a puzzle, that is a rebus. He is an addictive
personality to whom millions of readers have become addicted. Shabby
and dishevelled, when not unkempt, Rebus mainlines his professional
duties like the pure White Lady heroin. He remains impervious to fashion
or to trendiness.
Unable to let go once the scent of crime enters his no doubt un-barbered
nostrils he is now at that age when hair grows wildly everywhere
except on top of his unruly head - this monomaniacal hopelessly unfit
bloodhound nonetheless is a role-model for younger polis,
especially the female ones. I cannot decipher his lasting appeal to
the opposite sex. Most Mums would say to their kids "Thas
no a verra naice manny , glom onto his sloppy claes and slapdash hygiene,
laddie! Youll end up that way if you dinna heed yer Mummy!"
The first Inspector Rebus book KNOTS AND CROSSES was published in 1987
when Rankin was not yet 30 years old. Now at age 42 Rankin has willfully
raised the sights of his writing by several notches. His novels are
fat and ambitious, dealing with such contemporary issues as rampant
Scots Nationalism and Scots "Independence" (from London).
Yet his protagonist, unlike his Motherland, always fails, and no doubt
always will fail, to grow up into a proud self-sufficient Scotsman weaned
from boozers and ciggies. And women: Robert Knoxs, or was it John
Wesleys? The Awful Regimen Of.
A born bachelor - with every seedy habit thereof - Rebus couldnt
function without his ever-present crutches: TheNicotine and The 14 Year-Old
Malted Barley. Indeed his appeal rests foursquare upon his failings,
of which he is only dimly aware. Yet his highly alert and analytical
mind remains always on the job. Divorced and a permanent pessimist he
does not shun female companionship. He just does not have the time for
real love or for commitment.
Rankin clearly loves Edinburgh, The Scots Capital, no less than does
Rebus .He brings the city to tangible life on every page and does well
introducing the reader to grotty old Glasgow,too. Not that he ever conceals
the shabby, sordid desperation of every modern British city, wherein
those anxious shadowy low-lives eke out their sorry lots. Wherein those
arrogant brutal high-rollers control vices seven deadly sins.
Which brings us up against Rebuss permanent nemesis gang-lord
Big Ger, Morris Gerald Cafferty. As usual the centrifuge
of big-time crime.
Sequestered deliberately at Tuliallan Castle, The Scottish Police College,
Rebus infiltrates a quintet of bad-boy coppers - The Wild Bunch",
drinking buddies, and truly devious suspects all, in a big drug-bust
rip-off. Vulnerable to being exposed as an imposter Rebus has to negotiate
a high-wire trip wire with psychological deftness and ethical finesse-
qualities that normally have largely eluded this hard-charging, soft-spoken
detective in the past.
Meantime his acolyte CID Detective-Sergeant Siobhan Clarke is investigating
the brutal murder of a highly dubious art-gallery owner. These various
plot strands thicken, climb, and intertwine like eager ivy on an ageing
An expert at tying the reader into knots only to pull out the rug
excuse my mixed metaphors abruptly out from under, Rankin has
set himself a major challenge with RESURRECTION MEN and he is equal
to the task. It is a book that requires patience as such a fettlesome
throng of characters demand attention throughout. Yet erstwhile readers
of this exceptional crime series are fully accustomed to the labyrinthine
twist-ridden narratives which Rankin is bringing to perfection after
© Alex Grant 2003
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