§ion=&combo2=&text1=&text2=&SocNetUsername=&SocNetPassword=&authCode=& 7th Decade Thoughts: The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin

7th Decade Thoughts

Thoughts about books, politics and history (personal and otherwise), pictures I've taken and pictures I've edited.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin

Rankin is probably my favorite mystery writer. I've read all of his John Rebus novels and this is number 17 or 18. (Most series bore me before the end.) Rebus is a contemporary hard boiled detective—these days they are police, not PIs but he's suitably anti-establishment none the less. He drinks too much and smokes too much, has alienated his family, has few friends, lives for his job, takes every chance that presents itself and is, as a result, almost always insubordinate. So he doesn't advance in the force even though he solves all his cases, often brilliantly. In addition, Rankin is a fun writer, connecting Rebus to contemporary Edinburgh and Scotland and to current events. He, like Rebus, loves music and the references are always funny and appropriate.

This one takes place during the G8 conference in Scotland amidst gargantuan security involving almost all the police forces of the UK. Rebus and Siobhan, his best best friend on the force, are investigating what looks like a serial murder with clues from 3 different murders found at a tourist attraction near Gleneagles where the conference is being held. A member of Parliament jumps or is pushed off the walls of Edinburgh castle during a high profile dinner and Special Branch blocks Rebus from investigating. Siobhan's parents, aging hippies who are almost ashamed that their daughter is a police sergeant, come up from London to join the demonstrations—and her mother is hit over the head in a riot, possibly by police. A demonstrator who befriends Siobhan's parents at the campsite turns out to be an undercover cop and the sister of the MP whose death is considered suicide. A local politician is challenging Rebus' nemesis, gangster Cafferty, and ends up dead. And despite the fact that Rebus and Siobhan are told not to investigate till the G8 is over and then are suspended for not obeying, they put it all together, though the murderer, on the train back to London on the morning of July 7th, disappears completely and may or may not have been a victim in the London subway bombings. I suspect Rankin will take that up in his next novel, which I hear is the last, Rebus being already 30 years a cop and eligible for retirement (one way or another). And I almost forgot: Rebus and Siobhan see George Bush fall off his mountain bike and note the band-aids on his fingers when he appears in public. Nice touch.


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