Yesterday I began reading Ian Rankin’s Let it Bleed, the seventh Inspector Rebus book. This begins with a dramatic car chase in Edinburgh ending in a crash on the Forth Road Bridge. Rebus and his boss Chief Inspector Lauderdale are both injured, whilst the youths they were chasing stumble from their car and plunge from the Bridge embedding themselves in the metal deck of a Royal Navy frigate in the Firth of Forth hundreds of feet below.
I read further on this morning to be confronted with another suicide, this time Hugh McAnally, known as Wee Shug blows his head off with a sawn-off shotgun. Rebus is struggling, drinking and smoking too much, living on his own and at odds with his daughter. He’s rubbed people up the wrong way and is told to take time off, which worries him – without work his life has no shape or substance:
… it gave him a schedule to work to, a reason to get up in the morning. He loathed his free time, dreaded Sundays off. He lived to work, and in a very real sense he worked to live, too : the much maligned Protestant work-ethic. Subtract work from the equation, and the day became flabby, like releasing jelly from its mould. Besides, without work, what reason had he not to drink? (page 122)
The Rebus books are fast paced, with rounded characters, convincing dialogue and plots that keep me turning the pages. This one combines crime, politics and corruption in a bleak tale, set in a bleak wintry Edinburgh.