'Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.' Pink Floyd
My favorite nonconformist Detective Inspector Rebus infuriates everyone including his bosses. He is based in Edinburgh, and this is 2005 the week of the G8 summit
Ian Rankin was in Edinburg during the G8 and he conveys the atmosphere to perfection, from the people with ideals, wanting to make a difference for the poorest people in the world through to the disaffected people of the poorest parts of Edinburgh who'd like to make a difference to their own lives. Rankin catches the protestors, the gung-ho attitude of some of the police and the edginess of the crowds. I felt I was there: On occasions I could feel the anxiety. There are contrasts with the situation at Gleneagles, where no expense or detail is spared to protect the leaders and to provide facilities for their staff. The futility of the summit against the backdrop of what was happening in the real world is real and palpable.
The 16th Inspector Rebus novel is a big read set against the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent Scottish history: the G8. Rankin digs deeper into Rebus's psyche and continues to explore themes of justice and retribution, impermanence, loss and regret. Rebus is the same truculent character he has always been and impending old age - his 60th birthday and consequent retirement - is preying on his mind.
The Naming of The Dead which Rankin took from a ceremony to honour those who had died in Iraq which took place in Edinburgh in 2005. While every cop and his dog is pulling overtime to cope with the daily marches and demonstrations surrounding the summit, Rebus has been sidelined. Who wants him getting close to world leaders? But when a body is discovered in a glade in Auchterarder, Rebus, as the only person left in the office and he is assigned the case and finds himself visiting the G8 after all.
Almost immediately, he clashes with the English police commander in charge of G8 security. Before long, he has everybody's backs up as he explores the possibility that an MP's drop off Edinburgh Castle's ramparts was murder, not suicide, and that a serial killer is preying on convicted rapists harvested from a vigilante website. Rebus' s close friend - Siobhan Clarke - is also at odds with her superiors as she attempts to find the riot cop who clobbered her mother during one of the many demonstrations. She's also getting entangled with Rebus's nemesis, thuggish crime boss Big Ger Cafferty, who is showing an unhealthy interest in her while getting in the way of Rebus's investigations.
The strength of this novel lies in the way that Ian Rankin places the murders and the G8 to his exploration of character: We get more insight into Siobhan Clarke as she struggles with her parental relationships. Rebus is brooding on his age and increasing isolation, thinking about the unexpected death of his brother and the way he has messed up with the rest of his family. And, Rebus, has his love of rock music, Pink Floyd, The Who, U2, the Stones-he has every record and Cd and knows every verse and lyric. He often ties the crime to a lyric of a song. Some have mentioned the length of this novel. It may be overly long, but Ian Rankin was able to keep my attention with the depth of his characterization, and he has tied the plot lines together with a twist. There may be but one Rebus novel left. Policeman in Scotland must retire when they reach age 60. Ian Rankin's almost certainly the best crime novelist writing at the moment and there are few to beat him in any other genre
Rebus, as usual battles with a local crime boss, apolitical boss, his police bosses, a corrupt arms dealer and an arrogant Special Branch official from London. He's formed alliances with a reporter, a computer whiz and several police colleagues who can gather data that he cannot. Technology has become of Rebus's 'life and a web site plays heavily into the three murders. He is technically quite proficient as a detective and Rebus is someone I want on my side. Not much escapes him. Rebus and Siobhan are becoming closer and we can see the emotions in Rebus come to the fore. There is respect and love, but unmentioned as of yet.
Ian Rankin has said in an interview , "At the core of The Naming of the Dead is a pretty basic question: What difference do we make in the world? Rebus is cast as the aging cynic, while his colleague Siobhan is younger and more idealistic. So while Rebus is dismissive of the power of rock stars to change the situation in Africa, Siobhan is hopeful. Can concerts alter world events? Can marches and protests change politicians' minds? Can the individual make a difference? Rebus is beginning to realise that during all the years he's been a cop, and for all the bad people he's put behind bars... crime is always with us. As for my own view on all the above... it's somewhere between Rebus and Siobhan!"
Highly Recommended, Comfortably Numb or Not. prisrob 5-27-07
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