Ian Rankin is a highly-successful Scottish crime writer. I don’t know how many Americans, or for that matter Russians or Germans, have heard of him, but he’s in the first rank in the U.K.. The first book of his I read – and reviewed here – was the spy story “Watchman”. By contrast, “Black and Blue” features his big creation, Detective Inspector John Rebus.
I a way this is a difficult review, because I just thoroughly enjoyed the book – though “enjoyed” seems a strange word for a book about seamy streets, corruption in industry and the police and about death. I found the main character in “Watchman” slightly unformed – not altogether convincing if you started asking questions. Rebus, by contrast, is totally credible – driven, in many ways a loner but supportive towards colleagues he trusts, relentless in pursuing his targets, a workaholic and heavy drinker, passionately honest in the big things but prepared to bend the rules and distort the truth towards what he sees as an honest end, and apparently brave because he does not seem to care about his life.
What more to say? It had me pushing on to find out what happened and who did what. Places are described vividly with a few words. The world is painful but not loveless.
This was the book that turned Rankin and Rebus from moderate successes towards fame. It deserved all that.