|Ian Rankin: Resurrection Men|
Brown (Hardcover), ISBN 0-316-76684-4
Rebus has had his brushes with authority in his past, but this time he's thrown a mug of coffee at a superior officer. The sin's grave enough that he's sent off to a police training establishment in central Scotland to join a group of senior cops who likewise require reconditioning; if they can see the error of their ways they'll be restored to their careers -- "resurrected," in other words.
Of course, it's a setup. Three of Rebus's "class-mates" are suspected of being crooked cops, and he's been planted among them to see what he can find out. Unfortunately for him, when they're given the file on an old crime to investigate as an exercise, it proves to be one in which his own fingers were not entirely clean.
The murder case he's been taken off of is left largely in the hands of his trusty sidekick, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke, who continues to work it with extremely green rookie David Hynds. Of course, the bond between Rebus and Clarke is such that they give each other covert help in their investigations. But that seems not to be the sole crossover between the two cases.
Most procedural stories that virtually taste of realism aren't particularly page-turners; most page-turning crime thrillers involve a certain fantastication that requires a suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Rankin manages the rare double act: Resurrection Men is an absolutely gripping thriller that's at the same time completely, grittily convincing. The supporting cast, and Rebus's relationships with them, prove likewise superb -- that dual comment applies most especially in the context of Siobhan Clarke, who's an exceptionally appealing character in her own right. There are rumours that Rankin may be planning to retire Rebus, leaving Clarke as primary protagonist in the continuing series. If there's any truth in them, it'll be on the one hand a great pity -- because Rebus is a fine creation -- but on the other a joy, because Clarke most assuredly deserves her own novels.
Nearly better than anything else is Rankin's capture of the city of Edinburgh, both on and off the tourist streets; it becomes almost an extra character in the story.
The two intertwined mysteries and their resolutions are entirely satisfying. They also possess a characteristic that's rare in mystery novels: as you look back at the plot from the standpoint of the denouement, you realize that there was a certain inevitability in events turning out this way, given the characters involved. Nothing, in other words, seems remotely contrived or created; all is truly naturalistic.
Resurrection Men is much recommended.
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