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A Question of Blood (A Rebus Novel) Paperback – 23 Apr 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New edition edition (23 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752858963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752858968
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Sometimes crime affects you directly: in A Question of Blood Inspector John Rebus is caught up in two cases that are closer to home than he would like. He is under investigation for the burning alive of a minor psychopath who threatened his attractive young sergeant Siobhan Clarke; and the son of an estranged cousin has been murdered in a high-school shooting.

As always in Rankin's novels, Rebus's bad attitude to his superiors comes back to bite him: even though doctors testify that damage to his hands is a scalding from trying drunkenly to get into an over-hot bath, it is regarded as circumstantial evidence of his possible guilt. The high-school shooting looks at first sight like another ex-SAS crazy going wild--and here Rebus's own past as an SAS washout comes to haunt him--and the constant meddling of army investigators screams cover-up. In fact, though, this is one of those occasions on which Rebus's slightly paranoid preparedness to see connections everywhere pays off and he manages to solve both crimes and a lot of other unsuspected pieces of mayhem besides. Along the way, the book offers Rankin's usual intense commentary on embattled masculinity and what it means to be a Scot, and this excellent sequence's usual portrayal of an Edinburgh where modernity rubs up against time-worn slums and ancient privilege. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Excellent (SUNDAY TIMES)

Splendidly-woven yarn...if there still are people unaware of Rankin and Rebus, this would make a great introduction (Rab Anderson SUNDAY EXPRESS)

Rankin expertly keeps us on a knife-edge...He is on top form here - unremitting pleasure (Cath Staincliffe TANGLED WEB)

He writes with a natural rhythmn which exerts an almost hypnotic effect (THE INDEPENDENT - Andrew Taylor)

You'll love every second of it (DAILY MIRROR 4-STARS)

Exemplifies the enhanced craftmanship of the author's recent work; the sheer number of handicaps Rebus overcomes and of the puzzles he solves evinces a relishable virtuosity (SUNDAY TIMES - John Dugdale)

A rich absorbing narrative in which the focus is not on who did it - that we know - but why. Artful, moving and entertaining (THE OBSERVER - Peter Gutteridge)

Ian Rankin's John a flawed but very human creation, and his Edinburgh and its inhabitants beautifully drawn and utterly real (IRISH INDEPENDENT - Myles McWeeney)

Exceptionally well-plotted book, which is guaranteed to hook you and keep you hooked (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH - Antonia Fraser)

Skilfully composed and powerfully written, with a vein of compassion that Rankin taps to startling and justified effect (LITERARY REVIEW - Philip Oakes)

He is an addictive writer, which accounts for his immense popularity, but he is also a serious and disturbing one...What he does after Rebus is an interesting question. To track back and offer us some of Rebus's earlier cases would be to reduce the novels to mere entertainment, hugely popular no doubt but a betrayal of his remarkable talent (THE SPECTATOR - Allan Massie)

This latest story crackles with tension, energy and suspense. And it's a credit to Rankin's writing that despite our familiarity with the detective inspector, it is quite believable that Rebus is capable of committing a violent crime to protect a friend (SUNDAY TRIBUNE (Ireland) - Lise Hand)

Seamlessly plotted, effortlessly compelling read. Rankin is in total command of his idiom. Rebus himself may be showing signs of burn-out and disaffection with conventional police procedure, but there is no indication that the series is running out of steam (MAIL ON SUNDAY - Simon Humphreys)

Sublime thriller...As ever, Rebus deals with all challengers in his own inimitable style - a measure of irreverence, a dose of aggression and buckets of dry wit (Shari Low DAILY RECORD)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback
Ian Rankin's faultless record in the crime fiction genre once again cannot be questioned after reading this book. The well-loved protagonist of DI Rebus once again makes the reader long for his alignment with the values that 'society' holds, if only for a true recognition of his character. However an admiration for DI Rebus cannot be quenched - a thirst for answers, disregard for bureaucracy and an understanding of the criminal mind. Edinburgh is yet again treated not just as a beautiful city with a 'nice' tourist scene, but as a dark place, somewhat pretentious, with underlying sadness. It exhibits the nature of crime and humanity, the urges and desires, the pitfalls and the despair that is human life. The Rebus novel are not novels that you pick up, read and put back on your bookshelf. When you read these Ian Rankin novels you are involved. These are not just formulaic novels with a plot which gets resolved by the quirky detective. These are touched by a reality which is sometimes shocking but always necessary. It would be an injustice not to read this novel or any other Rebus novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Rebus is back and this time it's personal!

There was a certain poignancy about re-reading this novel which opens with the immediate aftermath of a gunman entering a prestigious private school and killing two pupils and wounding another before turning his weapon on himself as news broke of yet another mass-shooting on an American campus, this time in Roseburg, Oregon. On the other hand, that is now such a frequent occurrence that almost any time I might have revisited this novel would have clashed with such an outrage.

The gunman was identified as Lee Herdman, a readily-recognised figure around South Queensferry where he owned a motor boat and gave water skiing lessons and took tourists for trips around the various islets in the Firth of Forth at breakneck speed. After news of the killings broke it very soon emerged that Herdman was an ex-soldier and had, in fact, been a member of the SAS. Very soon the killings are being described as a combat veteran 'losing his marbles' or 'throwing a maddie'.

It is not Rebus's case but he is pressed to assist the investigation in view of his own experiences in the army, and his (failed) attempt many years before to join the SAS. He is, however, beset with other problems. His hands have been hideously scalded, leaving him virtually helpless and unable to perform even the simplest of manual tasks. Meanwhile, a small-time criminal who had been stalking Rebus's colleague Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke and making her life a misery, is found burnt to death in his own home, having been seen drinking with Rebus earlier that evening. It doesn't take the senior management team at Lothian and Borders Police long to add two and two together, though it is not clear whether they are making four or five.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the 15th book in the Inspector John Rebus series (not counting the 2 books of short stories) and once again Rebus is hard at work intimidating criminals and annoying his superiors. This book is a little unusual in that Rebus is actually working with partners, alternating between Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke and Detective Inspector Bob Hogan.
The reason for Rebuses acceptance of assistance comes from the fact that both of his hands have been very badly scalded, so badly that he even has trouble drinking a beer or lighting a cigarette (shocking). The burnt hands are a bit of a mystery but seem to have been done the same night that a man who had been stalking Siobhan, and who Rebus warned off once, was burnt to death. Suspicions hang over Rebuses head throughout the book.
The main case is a murder suicide investigation that Rebus is called in to advise on due to his previous experience as an SAS trainee. The murderer is also ex-SAS and it is thought that Rebus might be able to add some unique insights. So, rather than trying to solve the question of who committed the murder, it’s more a question of why the murder was committed. During the investigation we get a little more of an insight into Rebuses army days through his digging into the murderer’s past.
Thanks to the extra interaction between Rebus and Siobhan Clarke, I thought this was an excellent addition to what is already an outstanding series. It’s also nice to see that his dogged determination to solve the case and his disregard for his superiors hasn’t diminished at all either.
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