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The Naming of the Dead (Inspector Rebus Novels)by Ian Rankin
Synopses & Reviews
When the leaders of the free world descend on Scotland for an international conference, every cop in the country is needed to control the mob of protestors in Edinburgh's streets...except one. Inspector John Rebus's reputation precedes him, so while Presidents Bush and Putin confer in isolated splendor, Rebus mans an empty police station, safely out of the way where he can't offend any visiting dignitaries.
Then a delegate falls to his death during a preconference dinner at Edinburgh Castle, and Rebus is given what looks like a simple suicide to write up. But even as he keeps it out of the headlines, Rebus probes where no probing is wanted — and doesn't like the sidesteps and powerplays his questions engender. And this week Edinburgh is a dangerous place to be: Rebus also investigates the death of a recently paroled rapist, murdered in a particularly grisly fashion. The discovery of more bodies leads Rebus to consider an unexpected and politically unacceptable possibility.
Amid political drama and street theater, and with egos on parade at every level, Rebus works the thorniest case he's ever encountered, with danger at a scale beyond his darkest imaginings. A state-of-the-world novel peopled by real characters, The Naming of the Dead is Rebus's most challenging case yet, and Edgar Award winner Ian Rankin at his very best.
"At the start of Rankin's overly complex 18th book to feature Edinburgh's Insp. John Rebus (after 2005's Fleshmarket Alley), Ben Webster, a Scottish delegate to the Group of Eight summit, dies suspiciously a couple of days before the world's leaders gather in Scotland in 2005. While his colleagues are preoccupied by ensuring security at the conference, Rebus is devoting his energy to the murder of Cyril Colliar, a recently released violent sex offender. No one really cares about the case except for Rebus, and that's mainly because Colliar was muscle for Edinburgh's crime boss 'Big Ger' Cafferty, with whom Rebus has tangled in earlier novels. Rebus is more than willing to flout authority in his dogged pursuit of Colliar's killer, who may be a vigilante intent on punishing rapists. Webster's death, never wholly resolved, does connect with Rebus's investigation, but the link is tenuous at best. Rankin deftly captures the mad circus — the media, the security, the demonstrators — of the G8 summit, but this background muddies the narrative waters. He's at his best when he focuses on Rebus and the city of Edinburgh itself. 6-city author tour. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Ian Rankin has set his long, ambitious new Inspector Rebus novel during the week of the July 2005 G8 economic summit in his beloved Edinburgh. The week begins with a huge anti-poverty, anti-war demonstration and ends in disarray when terrorists blow up subway cars and a bus in London. In between, Rebus investigates three murders by a serial killer and the possible murder of a liberal member of Parliament... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) who has fallen to his death. As always, Rebus drinks and smokes too much and battles against authority more than against criminals. At the start of the novel, his brother has died unexpectedly, and before it's over we're wondering if the battered, overweight, wheezing Rebus can himself survive. He's somewhere in his late 50s and does not seem long for this world. There's a great deal going on in this novel — too much, some readers will think. The massive demonstrations, and police efforts to contain them, are described in detail. More than 200,000 people are marching against poverty and war, including the parents of Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke, Rebus' dear friend and protege. Most are peaceful, but at times black-clad anarchists challenge police, and even the Clown Army turns up. When Rankin has the marchers chanting, 'Bush, Blair, CIA, how many kids did you kill today?' it's an echo of another chant 40 years ago ('Hey, hey, LBJ ... ') and a reminder of how little has changed. Rankin leaves no doubt that his sympathies lie with the marchers, not the powers that be. He even contrives to put Rebus at the ultra-secure resort hotel where the heads of state stay, where he sees President Bush fall off his bicycle. Rebus' superiors want to keep him far away from the VIPs, but once he starts a murder investigation, he rejects any limits on his work. Soon he and Clarke are suspended from duty, but they push on. Still, the murders are not what the book is about. They give it structure and suspense, but all the Rebus books are finally about the author's sheer joy in storytelling. 'The Naming of the Dead' overflows with characters, plots, subplots, flashbacks, surprises, digressions and details. Rankin's books are not sleek and streamlined but unruly and inclusive; they are, as the song says, ragged but right. At various times Rebus battles with a local crime boss, a local political boss, his police bosses, a corrupt arms dealer and an arrogant Special Branch official from London. He's formed alliances with a reporter, a computer whiz and several police colleagues who can gather data that he cannot. Along with his detecting, he misses no opportunity to give us his opinions of rock groups ranging from the celebrated (the Who, Pink Floyd, U2) to the obscure. We learn about a Web site that tracks the whereabouts of sex offenders and meet a female cop whose sister has been abused and another whose mother was killed by such an offender. In one scene Rebus is arrested, painfully handcuffed and jailed overnight by some rogue cops — and you can be sure he gets his revenge. Clarke, in addition to trying to protect her parents — her mother is bashed in the face during a demonstration — is almost raped by a young hoodlum, reconnects with an ex-boyfriend who's now living with a stripper and attends a rock concert with a nice policeman who bores her. Rebus, of course, is the real man in her life, but she must consider if she should renounce him (her own personal Falstaff) in order to save her career. Rebus has become a poignant figure, one who reflects that 'Without the job, he almost ceased to exist.' Clarke, meanwhile, grows ever more serious about her work: 'She gave a voice to the forgotten and the missing. A world filled with victims, waiting for her and other detectives like her.' The book is punctuated by Rankin's grim humor. Rebus enters a smoky bar whose denizens are oblivious to events outside. '"Anything happening out there?" one of the regulars asked. Rebus shook his head, knowing that in the drinker's sealed-off world, news of a serial killer wouldn't quite qualify for the category of anything happening.' Leaving a nursing home, Rebus 'made a vow to off himself rather than sit with a shawl across his lap being spoon-fed boiled eggs to the strains of "Charlie Is My Darling."' One does not expect him to reach that unhappy point. Rankin has for some time been the top-selling crime writer in the United Kingdom, and he's one of the most talented in the English-speaking world. There were times, reading this book, that I grew impatient with his complicated plot and his endless digressions, but finally I accepted them simply because that's Rankin, that's the nature of his rowdy genius. At one point, a woman calls Rebus an anarchist, and he replies — 'thoughtfully,' we're told — 'I do my best work on the margins.' I take that to be Rankin reflecting that he himself does some of his best work on the margins, in the details of place and character that he revels in. You might wish he'd cut a paragraph here or there, but there's no one else like him." Reviewed by Harold Holzer, author of 'Lincoln at Cooper Union,' which won a Lincoln PrizeMatt Schudel, a Washington Post staff writerCarolyn See, who can be reached at www.carolynsee.comPatrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"[A] damn good book....Rankin continues to juggle his plot strains superbly and to add depth to the characterization of Clarke, whose multidimensionality nearly equals that of Rebus himself. Required reading for crime-fiction followers." Booklist
"[A] solidly suspenseful mystery tale....Not only do we get to see several familiar faces from earlier Rebus installments but these characters are developed in a most satisfactory way....Strongly recommended." Library Journal
"The world would be better off if Rebus attended the peace summits instead of getting bogged down with the usual posturing officeholders and violent anarchists." Kirkus Reviews
"Because Rankin is at the top of his game, the minor plot maneuvers are every bit as entertaining as the detectives' pursuit of a killer....[A] grand tour of the landscape of revenge and suspense." The Oregonian
"A book with this many plot elements risks becoming amorphous and overcomplicated. But Mr. Rankin doesn't get lost that way. In his backhanded, reluctant way Rebus winds up uniting all the book's loose ends, and seeing how he accomplishes this is a pleasure." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[Rankin] unifies character, place and plot with a restrained energy and a fierce elegance....
"While the mystery is contrived and pushed to the max of credulity, the account of the early days of July 2005 culminating in the July 7 terrorist transit bombings in London are compelling reading." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Rankin keeps his 18th novel in this series a clearly focused piece of crime fiction enhanced by his usual keen character studies....A maze of human emotions seen against the backdrop of the Scottish landscape proves, once again, Rankin's considerable talent." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The leaders of the free world descend on Scotland for an international conference, and every cop in the country isneeded for front-line duty...except one. John Rebus's reputation precedes him, and his bosses don't want him anywhere near Presidents Bush and Putin, which explains why he's manning an abandoned police station when a call comes in.
During a preconference dinner at Edinburgh Castle, a delegate has fallen to his death. Accident, suicide, or something altogether more sinister? And is it linked to a grisly find close to the site of the gathering? Are the world's most powerful men at risk from a killer? While the government and secret services attempt to hush the whole thing up, Rebus knows he has only seventy-two hours to find the answers.
A vicious serial killer is on the hunt, and only Rebus can stop him. Marking the 20th anniversary of John Rebus, this newest thriller is by the bestselling author of Fleshmarket Alley.
About the Author
Ian Rankin is the #1 bestselling mystery writer in the United Kingdom. Winner of an Edgar Award, a Gold Dagger for fiction, a Diamond Dagger for career excellence, and the Chandler-Fulbright Award, he lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and their two sons.
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