Finally I am done with John Rebus. This is first series I read back to back. 17 books; took me best part of 4 months to read, reason why my blog had that neglected look of late. I am glad to read the series in sequence and yet sad that there will be no more Rebus adventures as he is finally retired. So what is so special about Rebus that made me lap up his books one after another? Complex plots, superb characters, underlined social issues or plain old affinity for mystery? I think all of these and something more.
In an increasingly inhuman and cold society, where crimes are becoming more brutal by day and police helpless, John Rebus serves as a pursuer of justice. He is a true blooded cop to the core, old fashioned in his doggedness and even methods. He is one of those rare cops that anybody would like to be in charge for their own case, always gnawing at it and letting the investigation gnaw at him, never relaxing till he gets truth.
He has his flaws. Arrogant, antisocial, cynical and not shy of manipulating people if it serves his end. He drinks too much and smokes too much. Colleagues treat him with suspicion and hostility. Rebus is a loner and an outsider, always operating on the periphery, bending rules if required. He has paid dearly for this – stalled career, failed marriage, an estranged daughter, alienated from his brother and hardly any friends. He lives not for the job but because of the job. On weekends he sits brooding and sulking in Oxford Bar, surly and aloof. And yet I like him. What makes him special to me is his quest for pure truth. He is apolitical, immune to social and political weightage of a case. For him all cases are same and once started, he is like a bloodhound that never let go of the scent till he finds the truth and get his culprit.
The books are multi layered; Rankin uses plots to highlight real time social and political issues. They also showcase contemporary Edinburgh and Scotland. So if you are a fan of old fashioned gritty police procedurals with an atypical protagonist, I would highly recommend this series to you.
P.S. Rebus is back! Out of retirement in his 18th book as a civilian helping the police and I hope this old war horse continues his journey.
My other John Rebus reviews –