Monday, February 20, 2017

Hide and Seek: Ian Rankin

Hide and Seek is the second book in the John Rebus series featuring a Detective Inspector in the Edinburgh police. The series, written by Ian Rankin, started in 1987 with Knots and Crosses, and seemed to end in 2007 with Exit Music, the 17th Rebus novel. Rebus returned in 2012 in Standing in Another Man's Grave, and there are now over 20 novels in the series.

Description from the back of the book
In a shadowy, crumbling Edinburgh housing development, a junkie lies dead of an overdose, his body surrounded by signs of Satanic worship. Inspector John Rebus could call it an accident―but won’t. Now he’s got to scour the city―from the tunnels of its dark underbelly to the private sanctum of the upper crust―to find the perfect hiding place for a killer.
John Rebus is the first detective on the scene after the body of a young man is discovered.  The case seems straightforward enough, but Rebus follows up by talking to the young woman who reported the death. She and the victim had been living in the boarded up house where he was found She tells him that the body was in a different location in the house when she found him; also she is worried that someone is trying to kill her. All of this enforces Rebus's feeling that something more is going on.

Just as Rebus gets interested in this case, he is pulled off regular duties to work with a new drugs task force, which will have him socializing with some of the rich and powerful citizens of Edinburgh. He does continue looking into the death on the side, as the task force work is delayed. Thus Rebus is dealing with both the poorest people in the city and the richest in this case.

Rankin does not paint a pretty picture of the police force in Edinburgh. This is the dark and gritty side of Edinburgh. The plot deals with corruption in the police department and in city government. I always like a story about corruption and how people deal with it.

There are hints of personal issues in Rebus's life but they never come to the forefront in this book. Two continuing characters are introduced:  Detective Sergeant Brian Holmes, who does footwork for Rebus, and his boss, Detective Superintendent Watson. I especially enjoyed the sections involving Holmes.

This is our introduction to Rebus in this book:
John Rebus stared hard at the dish in front of him, oblivious to the conversation around the table, the background music, the flickering candles. He didn't really care about house prices in Barnton, or the latest delicatessen to be opened in the Grassmarket. He didn't much want to speak to the other guests—a female lecturer to his right, a male bookseller to his left—about… well, what ever they'd just been discussing. Yes, it was the perfect dinner party, the conversation as tangy as the starter course, and he was glad Rian had invited him. Of course he was. But the more he stared at the half lobster on his plate, the more an unfocussed despair grew within him. What had he in common with these people? Would they laugh if he told the story of the police alsatian and the severed head? No, they would not. They would smile politely, then bow their heads towards their plates, acknowledging that he was… well, different from them.
This is not the best police procedural I have ever read, nor is it the worst. I found it believable, interesting, and it kept me turning the pages. I plan to continue reading the series, not the least because I have the next eight books in the series, plus a few more. And I have heard that the series gets better and better.

This is my first submission for the Read Scotland 2017 challenge hosted by Peggy. Peggy is now blogging at Peggy's Porch.

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Publisher:   St. Martins Paperbacks, 1997. Orig. pub. 1991.
Length:       210 pages
Format:      Paperback
Series:       John Rebus, #2
Setting:      Edinburgh, Scotland
Genre:        Police procedural
Source:      I purchased my copy.

20 comments:

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    1. Glad to hear that, Patti, because I have a bunch of them.

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  2. I agree with Patti, Tracy. This series really does keep improving as it goes on. And it offers, among other things, a real look at modern Edinburgh.

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    1. It is good to get replies confirming that the books do get better, Margot. And I look forward to learning more about Edinburgh.

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  3. I've requested book 6 and 7 in the series, the only ones I could find on Paperback Bookswap. I read Knots and Crosses years ago and remember liking it.

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    1. Good, Rick, when you have read them, let me know what you think. I had read Knots and Crosses a good while back and remember liking it also, but that was about all I remember.

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  4. I agree that this series improves greatly as it progresses and does feel really true to life in certain parts of Edinburgh - I think.

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    1. It looks like I have a nice, long series to read, Katrina. This one was pretty much about the gritty side of Edinburgh, but I guess that is mainly what policeman deal with. A great series for Read Scotland, of course.

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  5. I suppose I ought to try and read some Rankin this year, though give it a month or so and that thought will have vanished from my mind. I read the first years ago and probably kept it, so another series to start from the beginning!

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    1. I know, Col, I am daunted by the thought of reading 20 plus more books by this author, but I am determined to read the earlier ones to have a background on the character, and then maybe I will skip around. I have so many authors that I want to read (soon) that I have given up on keeping track of them.

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  6. Tracy, I'm going to have to read Ian Rankin eventually. He is too good a crime fiction writer to ignore.

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    1. Very true, Prashant. Sounds like the later books are better but I am still reading the earlier ones first. I like books written in the 1990's anyway, before so much of detecting was using technology.

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  7. I've read several but not in order. I've enjoyed them all. Thanks for mention of the blog move, Tracy!

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    1. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed all of them, Peggy. I will read the ones I have in order, then I will probably skip around.

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  8. Poor Rebus, caught between Holmes and Watson. Tracy, between you and Yvette, I'm likely to get hooked on U.K. mysteries myself!

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    1. I do read a high percentage of U.K. mysteries, Mathew. Oh, and I am now reading the stories from Mattaponi Queen by Belle Boggs. I have read the first three stories and liked them all. Very much.

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  9. I'm glad you enjoyed this enough to continue - I never got on with Rankin/Rebus, but actually that's a relief, as it's one series I am not trying to keep up with.

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    1. I know what you mean, Moira, about having too many series to follow. Which is one reason I get so far behind. I must have liked Knots and Crosses fairly well to acquire so many of the books, although I do remember Glen finding a group of them for me once when he was out of town.

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  10. Well, I had read one book about Rebus after he retired. And, needing a book, grabbed another one at the library.

    While I am not attracted to books featuring inter-gangster rivalry, turf wars or brutality, Even Dogs in the Wild has some good, solid writing.

    I'm going to investigate some of the earlier books in the series -- after I read a slew of books by friends or gifts from the holidays.

    There are so many series to follow and now I just found out about a new one about Ruth Galloway -- a must-read.

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    1. Good to hear that you liked the writing in Even Dogs in the Wild, Kathy. Good writing can make up for a lot. I haven't gotten far into the Ruth Galloway series, but I am going to read the 2nd one soon. I know what you mean about so many series. I cannot keep up.

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