Publisher: Orion, Hachette
Rating: 4.5 *
Rankin's dark and brooding signature noir.
Rebus is called to London by New Scotland Yard to assist as the consulting investigator in a series of murders in which the serial killer leaves his mark by taking a bite out of the flesh of the body of each of his victims. Rebus has to deal with issues of the north and south divide and acceptance by his London officers who feel threatened by his presence. He also takes the opportunity to see his ex wife who lives with his teenage daughter, stirring up a lot of unresolved issues, and falls hard for the female researcher who wants to build a psychological profile of the killer.
Why does his daughter's boyfriend he disapproves of turn up at a trial related to the murder? What is the motivation behind the sick mind of the murderer? Who is the killer's next target and is Rebus or someone he loves at risk?
This book gets off to a somewhat slow start but it creeps up on you. It is as if you are alone, reading on the floor of a dark empty room with a single light, a room in which the walls are slowly closing in on you a fraction of an inch at a time. You feel relaxed and a little uninvolved in the beginning until you hit a point when you suddenly come to the realisation that the walls are closing in on you and there is no way out! The mood is dark and brooding and the pace is perfectly controlled - slowly mounting tension and suspense that grips you in an ever tightening vice. The ending is superbly dramatic (if a bit melodramatic).
The only thing is I don't believe in serial killers so much. I believe killings are generally personal or, if serial, sexually motivated. It's only a tiny pet peeve of mine, but I think Rankin gets the psychology a little wrong there.
Rebus is well developed and the supporting character of Inspector Flight, his New Scotland Yard counterpart, is well defined. Character development is not as strong as in the Inspector Morse series and the writing is toned down and slightly less literary than that of Colin Dexter's. Loved Rebus in London.
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Reviewed for MCT by Jac Wright.