Dead Souls

Document Sample
Dead Souls Powered By Docstoc
					"Dead Souls," is tenth, and by no means least, in the detective Chief Inspector John
Rebus series by the outstanding author Ian Rankin, currently the best-selling author of
mysteries in the United Kingdom. It can, like most of his work, be described as a police
procedural, within the tartan noir school, and it is set in Edinburgh, in contrast to most
Scots mystery writers at work now. The east coast Edinburgh is more or less his home
town; in comparison to the west coast Glasgow, it's a more beautiful, smaller city, the
capital of the country, where you might expect the crime to be white collar, rather than
blue, and bloody. But Rebus always seems to find enough to keep busy. And what's
tartan noir when it's at home, you ask? A bloodthirsty, bloody-minded business, to be
sure, more violent than the average British mystery, but, thankfully, leavened a bit with
that dark Scots humor. Written (duh!) by Scots.

I consider the book at hand, as I've said, to be one of the strongest of the Rebus series.
The plot is complex, and keeps moving forward. It opens with Rebus in a funk: his friend
and colleague Jack Morton has died; and his daughter is in a wheelchair, as she was the
victim of a hit-run apparently meant for Rebus. The detective is then assigned to look
after Cary Oakes, a particularly nasty serial killer who's just been deported back to
Edinburgh after having served time in the U.S. In addition, Rebus has begun a personal
crusade against Darren Rough, a pedophile assigned by Social Services to live in a
council estate with too many children. The suicide of a cop with whom he was friendly is
rather mysterious, and may have broader ramifications. And Rebus, as Rankin, is from
Fife: a high school sweetheart's son has gone missing, and he has agreed to help her
search for the young man. The last subplot is evidently taken from Death is Not the End:
an Inspector Rebus Novella (Inspector Rebus Mysteries), a Rebus novella Rankin
apparently wrote at about the same time, and decided to fold in here: it seems to me that
doing so has resulted in an odd plot mistake. But the novel, as a whole, deals with
sensitive material and is deeply felt.

Rankin is a highly talented writer with a great grip of the English language, Scottish
subdivision. His previous novel Black And Blue won England's prestigious Gold Dagger
Award, and was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel. He has a keen grasp of
police work, the ability to keep several strong subplots going at one time, that sharp Scots
humor, and the toughest tartan noir outlook around. He is also a meticulous observer of
his city's weather, geography, ambiance, and social systems. His writing about Arthur's
Seat, a rocky outcropping in the middle of Edinburgh, is more lyrical than any mystery
writer ought to be able to produce. And his writing about his actual hometown, Fife,
which is located slightly north of the city, and is best known for its one-time coal mines,
one-time linoleum factory, and as the birthplace of the very pessimistic, even among
famously dreary economists, Adam Smith, is sharp, humorous, and informative, to boot.
(Fife is also the birthplace of the current British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and of
another famous tartan noir author, Val McDermid.) Highly recommended, but bear in
mind, it's tough stuff.

Shared By: