John Rebus is a detective sergeant in Lothian and Border Police of Edinburgh. Rebus is 41, divorced, tired, binge drinker and smoker and has a past that he has struggled hard to forget. But he has to confront his past when a spat of serial killing starts in Edinburgh forcing Rebus to bring back memories that he has locked in the deepest corner of his mind.
This is first book of John Rebus series by Ian Rankin and to be honest I was not very impressed. The book seemed too rushed, mystery easy to solve and I did not find Rebus a very likeable character. But knowing that the series has garnered good reviews, I persisted and it has paid off well. I have finished 5 books and reading 6th now which is a record in itself. Normally by 3rd book of a series, I want ‘change of scene’ before going back to the series. But John Rebus keeps getting better and better.
A serial killer is on the loose, killing small girls. The killer is too smart, always a step ahead. There are no clues, not even a psychological profile to offer. The girls have nothing in common and the only consolation police have is that the victims are not sexually abused. John is also working on the case but the case is stalled for lack of clues. In the meanwhile someone is taunting John by sending him cryptic letters with queer messages “THERE ARE CLUES EVERYWHERE” and “FOR THOSE WHO READ BETWEEN THE TIMES” accompanied by string knots and crosses.
Then there is John’s brother Michael, successful, wealthy but his life is not what it seems. Crime reporter Jim Stevens is tracking Michael’s every step hoping to get a big break in the narcotics case that has now become his personal passion. To top it, John Rebus is involved with D.I. Gill Templer, press liaison officer on the case.
Well, I don’t want to spoil the mystery by revealing much. I found the clues easy to follow and I think readers can find out the killer much before John. Also John seems too adamant to even acknowledge the easiest of clues and it’s Gill Templer who first identifies the link that helps to unravel the case.
Couple of noteworthy points – Edinburgh of John Rebus is a different, darker and sinister place than the picture postcard tourist city that we know about. And Rankin has a sort of fixation for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Rankin has explored this theme in more than one Rebus stories. But more about that in my next reviews.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.
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