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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2002
This is my first Ian Rankin novel and it will definitely not be my last. John Rebus is a complex character who is battling his own personal demons. He is an Edinburgh Detective Inspector who is a recovering alcoholic and who is trying to reconnect with his daughter, Sammy, after many years of separation.
In this novel, Sammy is a victim of a hit-and-run and is currently unconscious in the hospital; a gang war is brewing and seems that the Yakuza might be involved; and an elderly man is being investigated as a Nazi war criminal. Rebus is trying to save Karina, a Bosnian refugee who is working as a prostitute in the streets of Edinburgh. Rankin does an excellent job with characterization giving depth to all the supporting players involved in the story. He focuses on their strengths as well as their weaknesses and does a great job in showing irony on several occasions.
The author knows how to structure the story. He makes use of flashbacks without warning the readers. It helps one to appreciate the then as well as the now. The story is not linear and it helps one to understand the motivation of most of the characters. I enjoyed my first John Rebus novel and I hope that all the others are as good as this one.
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on September 16, 2015
Ian Rankin: The Hanging Garden.

This is a very humane book. In Rankin’s works the character of John Rebus the detective, his actions, feelings and his loses, are viewed as important philosophical and existential human questions.

Nothing is ever forgotten and our actions have consequences. The guilt of war criminals is forever punishable by International Law. But are they redeemable?

The book is multi-leveled. Former crimes and former criminals meet new ones that history had not lifted to the heights of their predecessors. Yet, what if the society were again driven by a desire for a holocaust?

The reader learns a lot about Edinburgh and refugees from Bosnia and Chechnia. There are always refugees, and according to the places where they come from, we may judge which period of the previous century is being described.

This book is not as clear as The Saints of the Shadow Bible, and I do not like the contemporary fashion {obviously no fault of the writer) of not giving the author’s year of birth. What I also dislike - and again the writer is innocent here - are the questions for the reading groups at the end of the book. They are naïve and sometimes intrusive .Perhaps it is my fault – but the collective reading and collective solving of existential questions seems a contradiction to me.
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on March 21, 2000
Any novel named after a Cure song must be good. Amongst Ian Rankin's previous jobs was a stint as a punk musician, so this choice of title is quite appropriate for that reason. The title also refers to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. However, Rankin's main character, Detective Inspector John Rebus, does not himself appear to be an article of antiquity or an early 80s throwback (much the same thing). Rebus works in the gritty city of Edinburgh (see Irving Welsh's FILTH). With crime boss Big Ger Cafferty in gaol, a vacuum has opened up in Edinburgh's underworld. Tommy Telford is the man moving in on Cafferty's patch. Rebus' bosses are intent that he should not get involved, and so assign him to a war crimes case involving an elderly Nazi. But then Rebus' daughter is knocked down in a suspect hit and run. Is someone gunning out after Rebus? And what will Rebus do when he discovers the identity of the driver? This is a well crafted, subtle novel on the theme of revenge, with repercussions from the Second World War to the modern Chechen conflict. And Ian Rankin is not a one to provide easy answers. This is a novel which will certainly have you searching your own soul. It's also the best British crime novel I've read this year, and was the winner of the 1997 CWA Gold Dagger for fiction.
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on April 11, 2000
Ian Rankin captivates the reader again with this intriguing novel about gang turf wars, Nazi war criminals, prostitutes shipped to Britain from Bosnia, and crooked business deals with Japanese gangsters. Reality hits home when personal tragedy confronts Inspector John Rebus - his daughter is the target of a hit-and-run which appears to be related to the cases Inspector Rebus is currently pursuing. As usual, he becomes irretrievably involved in all these sub-plots to the detriment of his personal and professional relationships. This is all par for the course as Inspector Rebus cannot help but find some sort of tie-in between each case. Ian Rankin puts a very real face on the workings of a city's police force. The humor is always there with great one-liners courtesy of Inspector Rebus, usually uttered when he is on the carpet in front of his superiors. And there's an unexpected and interesting twist at the end.
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on October 19, 1998
Inspector John Rebus must once again fight crime and corruption as well as his own personal battles. His anguish over his daughter's accident is that of any father; being a policeman as well, he must keep control over his feelings in his hunt for the perpetrator. Rebus is very human, plagued with the personal problems that beset many of the best cops: the all-consuming lure of the job, the shattered relationships, the battle to stay away from alcohol, the effort to retain his humanity amidst the terrible deeds he must deal with every day.
Rankin is really very good at portraying these interior battles, but stands out in bringing the dark side of Edinburgh to life for his readers.
Ian Rankin is one author whose books I anxiously wait for, and one I recommend to anyone looking for a great police procedural.
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on February 15, 2000
The book Dead Souls was my first Inspector Rebus book and I thought it was excellent. I bought it on holiday in Australia and could not put it down until I had finished it. The stories were very real and the situations very descriptive. The plots were good with plenty of twists and I did not work out the endings for most of them until the end. It was good how the different investigations overlapped and the story kept moving at pace. There were no chapters where I found the story becoming slow and I was not tempted to skip a few paragraphs. The characters were real although he brought people together from differing backgrounds, cultures and countries. The released prisoner's character was scary and at times the book was almost disturbing. I will now go on to read other Inspector Rebus novels.
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on September 7, 1999
This is my first Rebus or Rankin novel and was I blown away.
The language is rich and descriptive. One can almost feel the whole gamut of emotions Rebus is experiencing and the struggle he is facing.
A great read.
The plot is complex and requires attention but you are well rewarded in the end as everything is tied together with a golden thread.
The plot: Rebus a cop trying to come to terms with a drinking problem and a failed marriage and trying to control the quickly changing world of organised crime in Edinbrugh.
The tentacles of intrigue, plot, sub-plot and double-cross are used to maximum effect and leave you wanting more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and want more.
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on November 4, 2001
The Hanging Garden is about John Rebus and several investigations concerning (1) a local gang war; (2) the hit and run attack on his daughter; and (3) a person who is possibly a WWII Nazi who has escaped prosecution. Rebus has lots of depth. His problems with alcohol and his family are well documented. He struggles with his problems, as in previous novels. This lends a depth to him. His efforts to determine whether the possible nazi was really a nazi are interesting. The retired nazi is a well-drawn character with lots of quirks to keep the reader guessing about whether he is or is not a nazi. The book is well-plotted and is believable. The writing is solid.
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on April 13, 1999
This was my first Inspector Rebus book and I enjoyed it. My problem is there are far too many subplots, prostitutes from Russia, Japanese Yakaze, Mr. Pink Eyes, British Intelligence, Strawman, the Mossad, the Rat Line and the hit and run attack on his daughter. It was written for careful reading, do not try to speed read as I usually do. Although complicated I enjoyed the story and took the time to read it carefully. This is not a book to read while sitting by the pool and relaxing.
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on February 24, 2000
Rankin manages to intertwine multiple stories and numerous great characters without ever losing his reader. Then, he neatly ties it all up in the end, without ever having a contrived feel.
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