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IAN-RANKIN A Question of Blood Drum ’3“ .' "'l O...

The title of Ian Rankin‘s latest Inspector Rebus-starring thriller would probably be spookier if it didn‘t hint at a macabre version of A Question of Sport with deadly consequences for the losing team. Hmm, interesting idea, that; must pitch it to the BBC sometime. Actually, the blood of Rankin‘s title refers not merely to the pools of red stuff that are discharged when a gunman embarks on a shooting spree in a South Queensferry private school, but to the pain and privilege of family ties.

Seconded to help the Leith police investigate the motivation behind enigmatic Lee Herdman’s murderous rampage, gruff, penny- pinching hardnut Rebus is forced to confront his own unsavoury past, particularly his weakening blood relationships, when he discovers that one of Herdman’s victims was a member of his family.

This gritty, fast-paced novel confirms why Rankin is such an indisputable leader within his chosen oeuvre. Eschewing the polite distraction of a flowery opening scene, the author instead drops his readers slap bang into the story's action, the realistic pungent dialogue driving us urgently through the red herrings and revelations of Rebus‘ investigation, until the ‘whydunnit's' shock denouement.

It‘s often been remarked that Rankin is a master at repackaging the ingredients of classic detective fiction for a hard-bitten modern audience. But what elevates this novel above others in the genre is its author's exacting attention to detail, from his crystal clear rendering of Edinburgh to the I convuncmg A . characterisations, most enjoyany the developing relationship between Rebus and the gutsy DS Siobhan Clarke.

(Allan Radcliffe)

Rankin masterfully repackage! classic detective


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Even better than sex”



18 Sep—2 Oct 2003 THE LIST 103