Ian Rankin must now hold the position as one of the UK's finest crime writers with his 5th "Inspector Rebus novel", The Black
Book. Set in the depths of Edinburgh's criminal fraternity, Rankin captures the persona of a hard-nosed Scottish policeman,
(John Rebus) as he attempts to solve a five-year old case. Notes about it are hidden in a black book kept by his colleague,
Brian Holmes, the victim of a brutal assault. The scene is the Central Hotel, a paradise for the degeneracy and squalor which
breed within its walls until it is razed to the ground; the eventual investigation yields one dead body but no clues. Five years on and Morris Gerald Cafferty (one of Edinburgh's most notorious criminals) is under surveillance for his role in a gang of loan sharks. In the course of this Rebus is blighted by personal problems and eventual suspension from the police force whilst trying to link the fire at Central Hotel to Cafferty's own illegal dealings. Amidst the lies and intrigue there lies a terrifying link that, if exposed, could result in vicious reprisals for many other people. With all detective novels it is difficult to fully explain a plot without revealing the conclusion but with Rankin, nothing is certain until the final page. This is a stunning piece of work; particularly striking is the originality of the characters and plot that culminates in an energetic yet decisive result. If you read no other crime thriller this year then read Ian Rankin's work, impressive and highly elegant.