Every now and then I like to interrupt my usual literary druthers with a nice mindless mystery/thriller. I find I have been discontent with the books I have been reading lately and needed something light and good to recharge. So I drafted Ian Rankin novelist-distractionaire for this task, and Rankin’s Fleshmarket Close did just that.
Carrying on his Detective Rebus series, Rankin begins his story with a man found stabbed in a dodgy area of Edinburgh. The victim, a refugee with several stab wounds, is thought by the police to be the result of a racially-motivated crime. And so tells the murder-solving story that weaves several different crimes that all take place over a week.
Rankin is a great storyteller and bravely takes on the touchy subject of race relations. He exposes the harsh realities faced by refugees and asylum-seekers, and depicts their attempts to start new lives in a better country only to find themselves poor, desolate, and the subject of hate crimes.
Rankin’s readers know that sometimes his stories wrap everything up together all too nicely, but that’s easy to get over considering you’ve devoured page after page because he’s kept you entertained. The great thing about Rankin’s novels is they don’t subject the reader to procedural dribble; rather he makes his novels interesting, funny, and with a healthy dose of police work that makes you hang on for more.