Continuing with the Crime Fiction Alphabet, I is for Ian Rankin and Inspector Rebus.
Earlier this year I decided to read Rankin’s Inspector Rebus books in order, starting with the first, Knots and Crosses, published in 1987. Recently I finished the fifth – The Black Book, published in 1993. In all there are 17 in the series, so I’ve a few to go yet. I have read a couple out of sequence – Set in Darkness (2000) and The Falls (2001).
My copy of The Black Book is packed away with our belongings in storage, so this is going to be a bit brief. This is the first book in which both Big Ger Cafferty the ruthless gangster boss, organiser of crime in Edinburgh and DC Siobhan Clarke appear as main characters. DS Brian Holmes has been mugged and is in a coma in hospital, so Rebus with the help of Siobhan, is investigating his attack in the carpark of the Heartbreak Cafe. (I liked the references to Elvis in this book, with dishes such as ‘Love Me Tenderloin”.) When Rebus finds Brian’s little black book, with his coded notes on various criminals and old cases he is drawn back to investigate the fire that five years earlier had destroyed an Edinburgh hotel leaving an unidentified dead body. His team are also running Operation Moneybags, aimed at busting Big Ger’s moneylending business.
Rebus has plenty of personal problems in this book. His girlfriend, fed up with his unreliable hours has locked him out of her flat and his brother and ex-con Michael has turned up in Edinburgh, sleeping in the box room in Rebus’s flat. So Rebus, who has let his flat to students has to sleep on the sofa in the living room. As usual with the Rebus books there are a number of twists and turns, with different sub-plots running at the same time as the main plot.
You don’t have to read the books in order as they each stand alone, but I think it helps to see Rebus’s character as it develops. The next book in the series is Mortal Causes, and as I have kept this handy (not in storage) I’ll be reading this next.