I finished reading Hide and Seek a few weeks ago and didn’t take any notes whilst reading it. That was a mistake because now I come to write about it my memory of it is a bit vague. As the main point of my blog is to record what I think about the books I’ve read and to remind me of them, this is not good.
Hide and Seek is Rankin’s second book featuring Rebus. It begins with a junkie in a squat in Pilmuir, Edinburgh shrieking “Hide!” and in fear of his life. Pilmuir is a run-down housing estate, with boarded-up terraced houses, ruptured drainpipes, broken fences and missing gates. “Edinburgh’s army of squatters” had made it their den and it is here that the junkie’s body is found:
Two large candles had burnt down to the shapes of fried eggs against the bare floorboards, and between them lay the body, legs together, arms outstretched. A cross without the nails, naked from the waist up. Near the body stood a glass jar, which had once contained something as innocent as coffee, but now held a selection of disposable syringes. Putting the fix into crucifixion, Rebus thought with a guilty smile. (p196 in the compilation volume Rebus the Early Years)
In Hide and Seek Rankin makes use of word-play, with puns on R L Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and other literary references – the characters of Watson and Holmes for example. Superintendent “Farmer” Watson has assigned Rebus to help with the anti-drugs campaign, which brings him into contact with wealthy businessmen who prove to be just as evil as Mr Hyde. But this is no straight forward contrast between good and evil and Rebus himself is no angel.
It was interesting to see the development of Rebus’s character and the prickly relationship between him and Brian Holmes, a young officer Rebus ropes in to help him. Rebus treats him as a message boy, a dogsbody. Holmes is more than that and is offended when Rebus tells him he is the “one with the shoeleather”, but it is only by working together that they discover the killer’s identity.