Superb Rebus Is Rankin's Most Ambitious Novel for Years; BOOK REVIEWS MIKE RIPLEY'S CRIME FILE

The Birmingham Post (England), November 11, 2006 | Go to article overview

Superb Rebus Is Rankin's Most Ambitious Novel for Years; BOOK REVIEWS MIKE RIPLEY'S CRIME FILE


Byline: MIKE RIPLEY

A week is a long time in politics, but even longer if you are a policeman in Edinburgh and your name is Inspector John Rebus.

The Naming of the Dead (Orion, pounds 17.99) is billed as the penultimate outing for Ian Rankin's legendary Scottish copper and takes place during one week in July last year' a week which saw Live 8, the G8 summit in Scotland and the suicide bombings in London.

All play their part as grumpy old Rebus gets involved in a highly unorthodox investigation into four murders and a suspicious death. There is even a walk-on role (or rather ride-on) for President George W. Bush, though Rebus, but Rankin resists the temptation to take him in for questioning.

This is Rankin's most ambitious book for several years and is flawlessly executed as he manages to juggle plot strands and characters with wonderful dexterity. If Rebus is to retire, as is rumoured, his colleague Detective Sergeant Siobahn Clarke is now supremely qualified to step into the old grouch's boots.

American Lisa Scottoline is often billed as the female version of John Grisham. She isn't' for although she produces fast-paced legal thrillers, she is the far better writer.

Her latest is Dirty Blonde (Macmillan, pounds 16.99) and the blonde in question is a high-flying young female lawyer recently appointed as a federal judge. When she lets her heart rule her head in announcing a very public rebuke to defendants during a trial judgment, it is only the start of a personal nightmare for Judge Cate Fante.

It transpires she has more nasty secrets to hide than those who appear in the dock before her. Not only does her dirty underwear start to be washed in public, but violent death and dubious policemen begin to hound her.

Despite minor errors, which could have been picked up by a stricter copy editor, Dirty Blonde belts along at breakneck speed and you can't help sympathising with the flawed heroine as her life collapses around her.

The Tenderness of Wolves (Quercus, pounds 12. …

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