Saturday, 28 November 2009


Another day, another Inspector Rebus novel, Tooth and Nail ...

This time the novel is set, unusually, outside of both Edinburgh and Scotland. Rebus has been called to London to assist a stumbling investigation there into a potential serial killer, dubbed the "Wolfman" by the popular press. Ostensibly there because of his experience in an earlier case (one that's pre-novels I think), Rebus suspects that he's been brought in only temporarily, to take the heat off the local investigators and to potentially serve later as a scapegoat. However, much as hoped by his London opposite number Detective George Flight (and expected by loyal readers), Rebus' fresh eyes and Scottish experiences take the investigation in new directions. Assistance from an attractive, if strangely office-less, female psychologist gives Rebus both a new perspective on the killer, but also an Achilles' heel.

There's not really a lot to say about this novel beyond it being another quality Rebus read. Unlike the earlier novels, which are largely police procedural and peopled by criminals with ultimately straightforward motives, this is focused around a crime genre stereotype: the serial killer. It's an interesting diversion for Rankin, but one which is slightly haunted by the spectre of Hannibal Lecter. Especially so given the killer's interest in teeth, which is reminiscent of the quarry in Red Dragon, published several years before this novel. Rankin also appears to borrow the convention of giving the killer voice here. Hitherto, the novels have tracked Rebus' dogged pursuit, but here the object of the chase is given short chapters in which victims are all-too-briefly introduced.

But the parallels don't detract from this novel, and may even be Rankin satirising the genre, although it feels more like homage. The serial killer is finally revealed a little late in the novel, and while I was somewhat perplexed by the revelation of identity (I probably wasn't paying close enough attention), I still went along with it happily. But then, that's what happens when the well-written prose goes down so pleasingly easy.

Overall, another step up for Rankin. I'm looking forwards to the next one.

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