- See the full list of books in Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus series.
Such an edition as this is rather a throw-back to those good-old 'golden' days of the great mystery writers, such as Dame Agatha, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout and many others who regularly wrote short stories along with their full-length novels. Eventually, when a dozen or so of these little gems had accrued in the author's basket, they would be brought out in their own separate volume. Many of these collections are as well known as the authors' full-length novels.
Following this lead, Mr. Rankin displays a sure touch with this batch of shorter stories, all of which feature Detective Inspector John Rebus of the Edinburgh police force. There are other continuing characters as well, who surface here or there, providing a spot of humor or compassion or just camaraderie.
I'd not read anthing by Mr. Rankin before finding this book. That situation is about to be remedied as I go looking for "Knots and Crosses" to begin at the beginning of the Inspector Rebus tales. I would highly recommend a similar path to any other devoted readers of mystery novels, especially those who treasure a setting that's nearly part of the plot, characters with whom one can practically form a friendship, and above all, exellent writing.
There are some really very good stories here..."A Good Hanging" "The Gentlemen's Club" and "Concrete Evidence". All of which are very enjoyable. the final story "Monstrous Trumpet" would be included in the above category, but for it's rather unbelieveable solution. The inclusion of the French visiting policeman, though, was a stroke of genius. His presence is incredibly enjoyable.
All of the stories are clever, and all enjoyable. there are several nice twists here and there, and Rebus, of course, to provide for extra entertainment.
"Sunday" is perhaps the most inventive story, certainly the one most "Rebus orientated". "Auld Lang Syne" is a very dull story until the final two or three pages, where it picks up some life. Of "Not Provan" , the same can be said.
"Playback" is a nice lite story to ease you into the collection.
All in all, there are some very good short stories contained herein. I would prefer a novel, but these will do. (Edinburgh is not quite so much a presence. Nor is the character development awfully good.)
And for those of you who are sick of crime fiction - I am not a fan of crime fiction at all, but I found this book to be extremely well written and clever. And yet crime fiction fans seem to love it too?