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Jen and other Ian Rankin (and his alter ego John Rebusans) fans ... sadly Jen is right. In a recent interview RAnkin said it's time for Rebus to retire.

 

But I am ever hopeful he will either change his mind or keep him iin the back- ground to help Shioban <sp> when she steps into his shoes.

 

We shall see.

 

GERBAM

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Rebus may live on! Michael Connolly famously retired his detective Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch, had him work as a private detective and then rejoin the force solving cold cases.

 

Rebus has previously solved a cold case (Ressurection Men) but as GERBAM said there is scope for him to help Siobhán solve cases. I imagine in this scenario Rebus would act outside the law to get information for Siobhán. Either that or Rebus could act alone as a private investigator although I personally wouldn't like to see this.

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I started at the beginning with Knots & Crosses and as someone said above it wasn't filling enough, but, except for Exit Music I have read the whole series in chronological order and I love the way the characters have developed.

 

Nothing wrong with the stories and plots but they are incidental to my enjoyment of the books.

 

I feel I want to meet Rebus and have a pint and chaser with him in the Ox.

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I feel I want to meet Rebus and have a pint and chaser with him in the Ox.

I know what you mean! Ian Rankin recently presented a program about Edinburgh and the more gruesome aspects of its criminal history which tied in to the publication of the new novel in a timely fashion. On it, he said that he'd like to have a drink with Rebus, but didn't think that Rebus would like him much. We did try to find the Oxford Bar last time we were in Edinburgh, but it's on one of those funny little split streets and I think we must have walked round it several times, but never quite got there!

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I'm a bit particular about books that are written in a series - I have to read them in the right order; I don't know why, but I think it's because there are events in Rebus' life that happen over the series, and I get annoyed if I read about something in one book and then read an earlier book in the series, and it hasn't happened yet.

I agree totally, Ruth, but I do know why, and it's for the reason that you give, i.e. the evolution of events in Rebus's private life.

 

I read Knots and Crosses first, didn't care for it overmuch, then jumped forward and read Black and Blue and Fleshmarket Close (both brilliant).

 

Then I decided to do the whole lot in sequence, so read Knots and Crosses again, then the next three (all workmanlike but no more than that). But this is going to take some time, especially as I'm also very, very slowly reading all the Émile Zola Rougon-Macquart series in order (and have also only reached number four after several years...) Not to mention everything else I've got lined up.

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I'm also very, very slowly reading all the Émile Zola Rougon-Macquart series in order (and have also only reached number four after several years...)

 

Isn't that a 20-book commitment?! Blimey. I read Germinal last year and honestly, as much as I enjoyed it, I would need a year's reading between each Zola book just to rid myself of the squalor, grime, and coal-dust.

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I'm a bit particular about books that are written in a series - I have to read them in the right order.

 

Phew - it's not jus me then!

 

I think its particularly true of the Rebus books as Rankin quite deliberately has him age in real time. This means that, even if each novel in the series is self-contained, there is an over-arching storyline.

 

Having said that, I've read a few Rebuses out of order and, for David's earlier appeal for what was next best after "Black and Blue", the first Rebus I read was actually "Dead Souls", which was good enough to make me want to read more of the series.

 

The same is not true, of say, the Discworld novels, although as it happens I've read those in order (but only as far as "The Fifth Elehpant").

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Then I decided to do the whole lot in sequence [...]
Almost a year on and I've only just polished off Rebus n° 5, The Black Book. This is clearly a move forward from the first four in the series, with Rankin adding to the complexity of the plot by mixing different strands, and with characters from previous novels reappearing and helping to create the notion of an unsavoury but clearly structured hierarchy of criminal characters operating at different levels.

 

Anyway the Rebus series is definitely still one I want to work all the way through, as I'm pretty sure they get progressively better (whereas the Zola cycle - see previous posts here - is much more up-and-down, with one or two definite duds which I don't relish the prospect of rereading...)

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Could this thread maybe be retitled - something like "The Rebus Series" or "Rankin and Rebus"? - since it's evolved in that direction?

Just read number 6 in the series, Mortal Causes, which is confirmation of the way the plots are increasingly complex as the series evolves, and also of Rankin's inclusion of socio-political issues, in this case sectarian rivalry and its concomitant violence, with murky links to both Belfast and the States.

 

Rebus himself comes over as an increasingly Jekyll & Hyde character: we find him back in a quasi-ongoing relationship with the eminently stable Dr Patience Aitken, but still tempted astray by the possibilities of infidelity and alcoholic excess, not to mention his ambiguous links with low life in general and a notorious gangster in particular.

 

Rebus tends to stay a few steps ahead of his theoretically more conscientious colleagues doing things by the procedural book, but towards the end he was a bit too far ahead of the reader, i.e. me, for that particular reader to be entirely sure that he hadn't missed something.

 

Be warned that there are some particularly unpleasant murders in this one, with descriptions so effective that I found myself flinching...

 

****

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I can't remember where I joined the Rebus series (it was the 4th or 5th in the list, maybe) but each book just got better. Rankin is a master of the art, combining his interest with local and wider world issues into the business of the police whilst still weaving the personal interactions into the storylines. He gets more topical as the years go by, and it will be interesting to see if people feel that these latter books date. I suspect not as the events of the day are always a backdrop to the police work.

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Another novel where it's best to ignore the misleading blurb (and the Reading Group notes, unless a question such as "What do you think about Rebus as a character?" suddenly gives you an unexpected insight into the whole series...)

 

Let It Bleed is number seven in the Rebus series. Somewhere in the interstices between the last novel and this one Rebus and Patience Aitken have separated, leaving Rebus to confront his demons (and his drink problem) on his own. The title refers to the Stones album, to a leaky radiator, to an abscess in one of Rebus's teeth, to the seeping corruption in Scottish society, encompassing the Scottish Office and the Lord Provost... And yet corruption creates jobs where they're much needed...

 

Corruption is the big theme here, and also the murky border area between good and bad, where it becomes clear that politics is the art of the possible... but the plot to my mind gets excessively complicated towards the end.

 

Significantly, Rankin's short introduction, written ten years after the novel was published, looks forward in its final lines to the next novel in the series, Black And Blue, one of the books I'd read out of sequence, and which can perhaps be considered to be the first Rankin/Rebus masterpiece.

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After watching Ian Rankin's Hidden Edinburgh on BBC4 last week, I'm feeling inspired to read another Rebus novel. Having previously read Knots and Crosses I put this on my list of "authors to read when I've run out of the TBR shelf"!! Suffice to say that's never happened, so I think I might try book 2 as an audio read - has anyone else listened to these? Do they work?

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I have, in fact, just listened to "Hide & Seek", the second Rebus novel, on unabridged audio, so I can assure you it is out there, Flingo!

 

Like most crime writing, the Rebus novels do work well in audio form. This one is more Edinburgh focussed than "Knots & Crosses", although there is one sequence set in Fife.

 

A junkie is found dead in an Edinburgh squat laid out in a cross with a pentagram daubed on the wall. The police are initially inclined to dismiss it as an overdose, but Rebus believes there's more to it than that. He finds photographs in the dead man's bedroom that lead him down some unexpected paths.

 

Rankin is already managing quite a sophisticated plot and Rebus is better fleshed out than in the debut, although perhaps a few too many balls are being juggled to be able to say this novel is more than above average.

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I have been a huge fan of Rankin's (or should I say Rebus's?) since I first read Knots and Crosses. I'm terrible about reading books in order (although, obviously I'd prefer to) so I've skipped around the series willy-nilly, but this has never dampened my enjoyment with the stories! Fleshmarket Close and Exit Music are two which stand out in my mind as being two fabulous installments in a superior series! I even had a drink in the 'Ox' the last time I was in Edinburgh!

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  • 5 months later...

Having enjoyed Strip Jack, I was looking forward to The Black Book but something was missing.

 

I really can't put my finger on it as, looking back, it had everything I like in a crime thriller / police procedural but it jusy didn't hold my attention. Maybe it's just that I've been working harder recently and have been more tired but night after night I found my eyes drooping after 20 minutes - normally I can keep going for an hour or 2.

 

Ahem....

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