Resurrection Men

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					"Resurrection Men" is the fifteenth in the Detective Inspector John Rebus police
procedural series by the outstanding, increasingly appreciated Scots author Ian Rankin. In
contrast to most Scots mystery writers at work now, Rankin sets his best-of-tartan-noir
universe in the east coast Edinburgh, rather than 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. 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.

As the book opens, Rebus has been sent undercover to Tulliallan Police College, where
recruits are trained, and troublesome older officers sent to resurrect their careers. Sir
David Strathern, chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, Rebus's permanent
posting, suspects several of the officers currently at the college are dirty, and he wants
Rebus to find the proof. To Rebus, of course, this is a difficult assignment. Aside from
the obvious, St. Leonard's, his station house, is in the midst of an engrossing enquiry:
Edward Marber, local art dealer, has been done in, and many of the usual suspects are
known to Rebus. The policeman finds the college assignment doubly difficult because,
for the unsolved case the officers there are always given to work, they're given a case
they've never been given before. It's the Rico Lomax case, it was Rebus's, and he knows
much too much about it. He can't help wondering...

Rankin is a highly talented writer with a great grip of the English language, Scottish
subdivision; a grasp of police work, the ability to keep these three strong subplots going
at one time, that sharp Scots humor, and the toughest tartan noir outlook around.
Unfortunately, "Resurrection Men" has a few too many characters, and cites unfamiliar-
to-Americans police nomenclature a little too often. It took me two readings to get it, and
that's with helpful tables upfront.

The writer is also a sharp observer of his city's weather, ambiance, and social systems. He
writes that Edinburgh cops call their morgue the "dead center," and are proud to say they
work at the dead center of Edinburgh. "The building," he writes, "is tucked away on the
Cowgate, one of the city's more secretive streets. Few pedestrians ever found themselves
there, and the traffic was intent on being elsewhere."

The author writes further on pedestrians and traffic: a "pavement drunk" causes them to
step out onto the road. "The drunk was making for the opposite pavement, stumbling
blindly across the road. They both knew he'd make it. He was carrying a bottle: no way a
motorist would want that flying through his windshield."

"You worked hard all week, then prayed for oblivion at the weekend," Rebus muses of
his city's inhabitants. But you'd better have your wits fully about you when you tackle
this rewarding, but difficult book.

				
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posted:8/21/2010
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