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A Question of Blood: An Inspector Rebus Novelby Ian Rankin
Synopses & Reviews
There is no mystery. Lee Herdman stormed into a private school just north of Edinburgh and killed two boys. He was a loner, a creep, an army veteran who got kicks out of terrifying local teenagers on his speedboat — just the sort of shady character to commit a random and heinous crime. It's a simple case of a man gone mad.
But how random were the killings at Port Edgar Academy? Why did Herdman open fire only in the student lounge, bypassing the swarm of students outside the school? What exactly was his relationship with the school's misfits? Why are military detectives snooping around the murder scene? And why is the only survivor of the attack, recuperating in the hospital, reluctant to talk?
There is indeed a mystery — only this time, it's why.
When Detective Inspector John Rebus is called out of his jurisdiction to investigate the killings, he is relieved to have the distraction. His entire precinct is abuzz with rumors of his involvement in the death of Martin Fairstone, an ex con who had been menacing Rebus's partner, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke.
For weeks Fairstone tormented Siobhan: followed her home, left her cryptic messages, even threatened violence. But her woes don't end when Fairstone dies in a fire that consumes his apartment. Now Siobhan has a new worry — the morning after Fairstone's body is found, Rebus appears with bandages on his severely burned hands. No one, not even Siobhan, can ignore the coincidence.
Immersing himself in the Port Edgar killings does little to help Rebus avoid everyone's suspicion, but an unexpected family tie draws him deeper into the case. With his superiors at police headquarters breathing down his neck, his partner's trust diminishing, and the key witness to the entire private school inquiry staying silent in a hospital bed, Rebus finds himself against what may become insurmountable odds, asking himself what drives a man to kill — is it a matter of revenge, or a question of blood?
"It's a complex narrative, perhaps too much so at times, but the plot is less important than Rebus himself, a brilliantly conceived hero who is all too aware of his own shortcomings." Publishers Weekly
"Even if [Rebus's] demons have become familiar, his rants are like poetry to kindred souls." Bill Ott, Booklist
"A Question of Blood confirms Mr. Rankin's place...as part of the nouveau-noir pantheon that dominates contemporary mystery writing....The Scottish turns of phrase abound, sometimes a might impenetrably, but the book's essential language is universal." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"A notch below quintessential Rankin with a wrap-up that doesn't quite ring true and a Rebus too dependent on painkillers and single-malt. But Siobhan — now there's a lassie to admire." Kirkus Reviews
"A web of delicate relationships lies at the heart of the latest entry in Rankin's benchmark Inspector Rebus series....A good choice for public libraries." Library Journal
"[T]he most impressive of the Rebus novels I've read — it can certainly bear comparison with the best of today's American crime writing — and, for those who have not yet met the inspector, it's a good place to start." Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post
"A Question of Blood is skillfully composed and powerfully written, with a vein of compassion that Rankin taps to startling and justified effect." Literary Review
"Arguably no Scottish novelist since Sir Walter Scott has had the commercial and critical success that Ian Rankin now enjoys....He is an addictive writer, which accounts for his immense popularity, but he is also a serious and disturbing one....A remarkable talent." Spectator
When a former soldier and recluse murders two 17-year-old students at a posh Edinburgh boarding school, Rebus immediately suspects there is more to the case than meets the eye.
When a former soldier and recluse murders two 17-year-old students at a posh Edinburgh boarding school, Rebus immediately suspects there is more to the case than meets the eye. Army investigators show up to snoop around the scene of the crime, and links between the killer and a local group of "Goths" (a morbid clique of black-clad teens who listen to heavy metal music) begin to surface. But just as Rebus finds himself in the thick of the murder inquiry, he's threatened with suspension from the police force: a man who had been menacing his partner and friend, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke, dies in the same house fire that has left Rebus with horrible, painful burns. Rebus is immediately suspected of foul play. Now Rebus is faced with two harrowing missions: He must get to the root of the boarding school killing even as he tries to clear his own name.
About the Author
Ian Rankin is an Edgar Award nominee and the recipient of a Gold Dagger Award for Fiction and the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and their two sons.
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