Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Rebus 5

After a detour into decidedly dodgy science fiction, I thought I'd get back onto more solidly reliable genre fare with Ian Rankin's Rebus number 5 novel, The Black Book.

I actually read this a month or so back, so can't actually remember all of the various ins and outs of the plot. Suffice to say that it was a satisfyingly twisty tale that dragged in present and past murders, a suspicious hotel fire, an attack on one of Rebus' closest colleagues, and the unveiling of Big Ger, an Edinburgh kingpin darkly hinted at in earlier novels. It also skilfully balanced these crime strands with the re-appearance of Rebus' brother, Michael, from prison and his on-again-off-again relationship with his doctor girlfriend, the appropriately-named Patience.

What was particularly pleasing about this book was that it really felt like Rankin has finally hit his stride with Rebus. With great economy of narrative and character, Rankin spins out his tale, and almost effortlessly reels in the reader. By this point in the series of novels, Rebus' character, and the world that he operates within, feels satisfyingly lived-in, like a comfortable pair of slippers. Previous books have been a lot less sure-footed, and Rankin has had to take the reader by the hand more, but here things flow much more easily - perhaps just because Rankin's world-building is more complete.

Twelve novels to go.

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