28) Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin
It’s been quite a while since I dipped my toe back into the world of Ian Rankin – and the fabulous creations of John Rebus, Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox; as well as Rebus’ criminal counterpoint, Big Ger Cafferty. This is another delve into the criminal underworld of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, in this case a tale that involves criminal gangs, different underworlds overlapping, and financial chicanery.
Rankin is a brilliantly adept author when it comes to plotting, and this builds nicely, gradually to a pretty spectacular conclusion – and there are plenty of threads, red herrings and cul-de-sacs that lead the reader astray. I also thought the interplay between the three main characters worked better than it had in some of the ‘Fox’ novels – I liked Fox much more in this book than I have in previous versions. Clarke may be my favourite of all of them. And Rebus continues to be Rebus, even when a shadow over his health is making him darker than usual.
Having said all of that, it didn’t really feel like a great Rankin crime novel. Obviously a half-decent novel by him is better than a lot of crime novels out there, but I didn’t think this was his best – I felt in completely safe hands throughout, and there are some brilliantly wry moments, but it never quite got raised up to the levels of poignancy and emotion that make his best even better.
In short, he’s still in the premier league of crime novelists, but this isn’t quite championship-winning form.