43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding novel by Rankin,
This review is from: A Question of Blood (Hardcover)
Rankin's latest begins straight off, plumping us right in the middle of the plot, and has a pace that continues in that vein, right until the shocking end. It starts with Rebus, in hospital, hands burned and bandaged following a severe scalding from hot bathwater. Or so he says. He is about to be called into a case that will question his notions of his family, his past, his future, and his present. There has been a horrific shooting incident at a private school just north of Edinburgh. Three people are dead, one injured. After his rampage, the killer - who was, like Rebus, ex-army - turned the gun on himself. As everyone puts it, "there's no mystery, except the why".
Given his army background, Rebus is asked to advise, on the quiet, to try and give some insight into what made this man go so catastrohpically off the rails. Rebus becomes fascinated with the dead man and his motives, and when the military police start sniffing around it makes him suspect that this thing might go a lot deeper than at first it seems.
But, before very long, Rebus too finds himself under investigation. A petty criminal who had been stalking and harassing his colleague and friend Siobhan (pronounced "Shivawn". As one character puts it, "So that's how it's spelt.") Clarke has been found burnt to death in his home. And not everyone is prepared to believe Rebus's excuses for his injuries...
For me, at least, this is surely going to be crime novel of the year. Rankin (so good he has already been awarded an OBE) has produced another outstanding novel of "Scots noir", which is sure to only cement his immense reputation among his fans as well as garnering him a good few more.
His prose and plots work like an acid, gradually corroding the genial touristy facade of the city and showing us the dark oily mechanics beneath. His writing is crisp and powerful, building atmosphere and character with a deceptive ease. His dialogue is sharp and realistic, and at times very clever, while his plotting is thick and complex. Everything hangs together beautifully.
As a Rebus novel, this one is, if not quite the strongest, definitely unique. There's no real whodunnit type mystery here, but Rankin makes the whydunnit aspects just as fascinating. Also fascinating is Rebus himself, who is ever so slightly disturbed by the parrallells he sees between himself and the killer, and who continues to grow and evolve as he ages, becoming softer yet harder at the same time, if at all possible, while still retaining the dark "lonerness" that has endeared him to so very many. However, this time around the fascination of Rebus himself is almost equal to the fascination of his increasingly complex and interesting relationship with his colleague DS Clarke (who is pretty darn interesting just by her self, busily avoiding social contact and living in a style eerile similar to that of her boss) which here sometimes threatens to become the main psychological draw of the story, rather than Rebus. This has been in the coming for several books now. At times he seems fatherly towards her, at times merely friendly (which is in itself unusual) and at times we realise just how much he has come to care, even though he doesn't always seem to know it himself. A particularly interesting happening here is how Clarke is forced to accompany him everywhere and act as his "hands". ("How will you go to the toilet?" "A man's got to do what a man's got to do.")
A Question of Blood is an outstanding novel, dark and fascinating, this is Rankin at his best, and that is something indeed