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Black and Blue [Hardcover]

Ian Rankin
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 28 1997 Inspector Rebus Mysteries
"Bible John" terrorized Glasgow in the sixties and seventies, raping and murdering three women he met in a local ballroom--and was never caught. Now a copycat is at work, nicknamed "Bible Johnny" by the media, a new menace with violent ambitions. Inspector Rebus must proceed with caution, because one mistake could mean an unpleasant and not particularly speedy death.

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"I'm a peeper, he thought, a voyeur. All cops are. But he knew he was more than that: he liked to get involved in the lives around him. He had a need to know which went beyond voyeurism. It was a drug. And the thing was, when he had all this knowledge, he then had to use booze to blank it out..." In his ninth outing, Edinburgh's glowering and tenacious Inspector John Rebus finds a unique way of cutting back on alcohol. Convinced that Rebus might lie or try to destroy evidence in the reopened case of a man convicted of a murder he probably didn't commit, the investigating officer assigns him a babysitter. Luckily, the minder is one of Rebus's old mentors, Jack Morton, a former drinking buddy now waging a successful battle against the bottle. Rebus and Morton burn off energy and anger repainting Rebus's apartment, while trying to clear Rebus's name and exploring the connection between a recent string of murders and a real-life Scottish serial killer of the 1970s known as Bible John. The cases take Rebus to Aberdeen and an oil platform in the North Atlantic, but as usual the main action happens within the mind and soul of Rankin's meticulously crafted creation. Previous entries in the memorable Rebus series are also available, including Let It Bleed, Hide and Seek, Knots and Crosses, Mortal Causes, and Tooth and Nail.

From Kirkus Reviews

Nearly 30 years after a serial killer dubbed Bible John abruptly retired after three vicious murders, he's back in the news again. Johnny Bible, an equally perverted killer who seems to be much younger, is imitating him with a gusto that suggests close research. Even though he knew one of Johnny Bible's victims, Edinburgh's Inspector John Rebus is in no position to take on this new case; he's got his hands full with a murdered oil-rig painter and the threatened reopening of a case in which he and his mentor, Inspector Lawson Geddes, may have planted evidence years and years ago that framed Lenny Spaven, who went to his death insisting he was innocent. When Rebus takes a few days in Aberdeen to visit the oil company's headquarters and incidentally chat up the locals about another of Johnny Bible's victims, he ends up under suspicion of killing a fourth victim himself and gets stuck with a minder who'll report his every move back to the very same Chief Inspector who's been put in charge of the Spaven case. Can things get any worse? Of course they can. For even though Rebus is behind the eight-ball, another avenger- -Bible John himself--is prepared to do whatever it takes to catch the copycat. Rebus's eighth case (Let It Bleed, 1996, etc.) is his biggest and most grueling so far. Yet Rankin's dexterity in juggling plots and threats and motives lights up the darkness with a poet's grace. Reading him is like watching somebody juggle a dozen bottles of single malt without spilling a drop. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Overley complicated, disjointed Nov. 12 2005
I read the rave reviews before buying this book (my first Ian Rankin novel) and was very disappointed. I am currently forcing myself to complete it. Not up to the great read one gets with Michael Connelly, the plot seemed to drag disjointedly on for ages, with all the focus seemingly on Inspector Rebus.No doubt all will be revealed in the last few pages. I'll read other authors before another by Ian Rankin.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment June 29 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the second Rebus book I've read. If I had not read Tooth and Nail before, I would not pick up another.
The first hundred pages were completely muddled. The book finally got on path, only to lose it again in the last hundred pages.
Rebus - a loveable rebel cop in Tooth and Nail came off as a depressed and depressing malcontent and know-it-all.
The central plot is a very good one - a serial killer is emulating a serial killer from years before. The first, Bible John, returns to stalk the second, Johnny Bible. The first (potential) murder is also a good hook. But then, so much is added. At the same time Rebus is working on this (potential) murder he is still obsessing about the Bibles. During this time he is also being investigated for a murder investigation he did a decade before. The investigation runs among four locales. It is no wonder much of the book is confused. There are too many plot lines Rankin has difficulty bringing them together.
I intend to go on with the Rebus series since the reviews are so good. I doubt this one is necessary to understand the series. I wish I had skipped it and gone on to #3.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The plot thickens...and thickens and thickens July 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Let me say at the outset that I am a Rankin fan. Police Detective John Rebus is a real human character, and Edinburgh makes a fascinating background to his stories, which are generally well plotted. However, "In Black and Blue," Rankin was just a little too ambitious. There are enough plots and subplots for five books, and he isn't always deft at juggling them. I often found myself scratching my head and flipping back pages to remember who a particular character was (there are a dozen major police characters alone). This is a major distraction in a mystery novel, which should be read full steam ahead. The plot strands involve gangsters, drug dealers, rogue cops, the oil trade, and two (count them two) serial killers. The denouement of all this is far from satisfying: the strands don't come together as neatly as a reader would have wished.
I'm still high on Rankin, but I wish he had turned this one into two separate novels (perhaps "Black" and "Blue").
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5.0 out of 5 stars Biscuit-Tins and Wooly Suits galore! June 7 2003
By Suzie
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My first Rankin book (of many more to come). Loved the challenge!! Not only is there a labyrinth of plots and interesting characters, but the setting of Scotland opens up a whole new vista for readers of mysteries, not to mention the colorful language! We're off to Scotland for our first trip there this summer and decided to read the #1 crime writer's book to put us in the mood and get ins to the locale and vocabulary. It was served up in style: Oxford Bar, Weegie-land, stooshie, usquebaugh, squaddies, Furry Boot Town, Ribena, Irn Bru, parrafin budgies, choobs, blether and on and on.... btw Black and Blue is a Rolling Stone number and Ian Rankin is always tying his moods into various musicians and their music! It's a super read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Discovery Feb. 11 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Some friends gave me this as a Christmas 2002 gift. They knew I liked mysteries/thrillers as I am a close follower of Michael Connelly, Jeffrey Deaver, Ridley Pearson, James Patterson, Robert Crais, and many others. I found this book to be amazing. So much so that I have already read the first four books in the Rebus series and am reading them in sequence. Rankin's detective Rebus is the Scottish version of Connelly's Harry Bosch -- only more extreme and maybe more interesting. Certainly more gritty. And he loves the Rolling Stones! Rankin is a highly intelligent writer and you can see his skills develop from the early books with "Srip Jack" being a turning point of sophistication. I've read that Rankin writes "Tartan Noir." That's a good way to put it. The novels remind me of the best film noir where the cigarette smoke is thick and the booze runs like a river. Being in Scotland also is a real treat, adding a new element of continual interest verus the usual beats of Los Angeles or New York. The layers of intelligence and plot development are lovely. Rankin has an uncanny ability to interweave plot, keep us guesing, and is always surprising us. Keep up the great work Ian. I plan to slow down as I hit the second half of the series as I want to keep Rebus fresh for as long as I can.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Made My Kilt Curl Jan. 10 2003
I was just introduced to Ian Rankin with this book. I loved it. Love Rebus. Rankin has a great knack for character and how to intertwine plots. I've been on a steady diet of Connelly, Deaver, Pearson, Crais, Kellerman, etc., and it was great to take a 'trip' across the ocean to get a glimpse of detective life in Scotland. It was much more gritty and hard-nosed than many of the stateside gumshoe tales. Felt a real affinity between Rebus and Harry Bosch. Maybe they are long lost cousins. Now plan to read all of Rankin's works in sequence. Keep up the good work Ian.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Read Although Not Super
There were a few cases in the 400 pages case: a new and an old serial killer, a man jumped to his death, a drug-connected death, a convicted prisoner committed suicide. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2002 by Desmond Chow
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Rebus
Rebus really outdoes himself in this book. He manages to get himself into serious trouble by annoying superior officers in three different cities at the same time... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2002 by Untouchable
3.0 out of 5 stars I expected more
I just finished reading this, my first, Rankin book. I wasn't overly impressed with it. The writing style was OK but nothing special and the famous dialogue everyone is so fond of... Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2001 by jamesa31
2.0 out of 5 stars A struggle to read
Everything seemed to be going wrong for Inspector John Rebus. Tracking murderers, serial killers, with the mafia, press and his supervisors breathing down his neck, a wrong move... Read more
Published on June 25 2001 by "fearlessfosdick"
5.0 out of 5 stars hard boiled
In recent months, word has come that authors of several of the very best police procedural series have decided to put an end to their heroes adventures. Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2000 by Orrin C. Judd
5.0 out of 5 stars Rankin's finest
Ian Rankin is described as the father of tartan noir, and Scotland's answer to James Ellroy. I would disagree with the latter description - Ellroy being a great prose stylist,... Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2000 by "scottish_lawyer"
2.0 out of 5 stars Too confusing to enjoy fully
I got about a third to a half way through this book and decided that I should start over again from the beginning! Yip... its that confusing! Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2000 by webipeb
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