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Ian Rankin Beats his Liberal breast,
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This review is from: Fleshmarket Close (A Rebus Novel) (Paperback)
I am both a massive fan of Ian Rankin and his Rebus books. I have read all Ian Rankin's books at least three or four times and find myself going back to them again and again like old friends. Especially his Rebus oeuvre.
I have to say however that Fleshmarket Close is my least favorite Rebus book by a long way. Now no Rebus book is ever bad. I think if you like certain characters, you can enjoy just reading about their lives. The plots can sometimes be almost immaterial. And Rebus is still a brilliant character, even here. But for me there are just too many misfires in this book.
The first is the missing child sub-plot (no spoilers) We have been here before. Rebus investigated an almost identical case (again unoffically) a few books back. So that kind of feels like old territory.
Secondly I have never been mad about Siobhan as a character. She has always been a bit too perfect, a bit goody-two-shoes. Her increasing presence in the Rebus books has diluted Rebus down a little for me. But in this book she becomes utterly insufferable. She speaks like some 'right-on' Guardian columnist and sometimes I find myself skipping over paragraphs to get past her little self-righteous rants.
Which brings me to the biggest issue with this book. And for me that is that it feels the only Rebus book where Rankin is quite heavy handedly pushing a liberal message. And that's unusual for him. Rankin books tend not to be judgmental or try to push a message onto the reader. But here he lets rip! The character who is the rapist gets the full on feminist rant that 'all men are rapists' treatment. Espcially by the shrill Siobhan. Then Rankiin leaves us with no uncertainly about his liberal feelings towards asylum seekers/immigrants. Some of the words coming out of Rebus and Siobhan's mouths concerning this issue could have come straight from any Immigration Support Charity. Both Rebus and Siobhan's expressed sentiment are beyond simply being sympathetic to the immigrant characters. They are aggressively critical and judgemental of the characters in the book who are given the role of opposing mass immigration. It's almost as if the characters opposing immigration are simply put there as 'Aunt Sally's' to take the full force of Rebus and Siobhan's disdain.
Now whatever your views on issues such as rape and immigration, it is very unusual for Ian Rankin to so nakedly push an agenda with his readers. I do not find such proselytizing to my taste. I prefer the more sarcsatic, indpendent minded Rebus personally. His normal attitude of a 'plague on all their houses'. Interstingly, in his next book, 'Naming of the Dead', Rankin seems to drop this approach and go back to good old Rebus as he usually is. Cynical and detached from the influences around him. Even Siobhan is toned down a bit in the next book and is not quite so annoying. So I don't know why Rankin goes for the 'message' in this book. But for me, it certainly spoils it and I'm glad he didn't carry it on.
So, still a good read if you like Rankin and Rebus. But for me personally, the least good of all his output.