- Paperback: 399 pages
- Publisher: Orion; 1st edition (2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0752851136
- ISBN-13: 978-0752851136
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 699 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,447,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
FLESHMARKET CLOSE. Paperback – 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The Edinburgh of Insp. John Rebus has more than its share of violent crimes involving drugs and gangs, but there's always another layer of institutional vice and corruption. As Rebus says, "[W]e spend most of our time chasing something called 'the underworld,' but it's the overworld we should really be keeping an eye on." In Edgar-winner Rankin's 15th novel to feature the moody, dogged detective (after 2004's A Question of Blood), a Kurdish refugee's death in a dreary housing estate leads Rebus into a labyrinthine plot involving a modern-day version of the slave trade. As has been the trend in recent Rebus novels, colleague Siobhan Clarke assumes a more central role, this time investigating the disappearance of the sister of a rape victim who later committed suicide. These mysteries begin to intertwine when Rebus and Clarke are called to a pub on Fleshmarket Close where two skeletons have been exhumed. As always, Rankin is deft with characterization and wit, but here he juggles too many narrative balls. The story lines are slow to gestate, and their complexity undermines the book's momentum. Still, Rebus remains one of the more compelling characters in crime fiction—and Rebus's Edinburgh one of the more compelling settings.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
*Starred Review* Edinburgh copper John Rebus has spent his life mucking about among the city's lowlifes, so much so that he often feels more kinship with the crooks he chases than he does with the new generation of cookie-cutter organization men and women who inhabit the more respectable tiers of Scottish society. His hard-won assumptions about the world are transformed, however, by his latest case, forcing Rebus, the hardest of hardened cynics, to exclaim in horror, "What in Christ's name is happening here?" It starts with the murder of an "asylum-seeker"--an illegal immigrant hoping to be granted political asylum but forced to live in a virtual prison while the lumbering Scottish bureaucracy determines his fate. As Rebus begins to dig into the murder, he is confronted by the new face of racism, twenty-first-century style: a government, unwilling to deal with the immigration problem, outsourcing "detention housing" to American prison-for-profit companies; a citizenry determined "to alienate what they cannot understand"; and a criminal underworld quick to capitalize on opportunity by entering the booming business of "people smuggling." All of these forces come together in an Edinburgh public-housing project, where racial tensions are at the breaking point, and where the people-smuggling industry thrives. Rankin, who has spent years developing Rebus' hard-bitten character, now brilliantly portrays the man forced to confront his own sensitivity. This is a superb crime novel, a pivotal entry in a uniformly fascinating series, and a remarkably perceptive analysis of the contemporary immigration dilemma at its most achingly human level. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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“Fleshmarket Close” was published in 2004, but it could have just as easily been 2015 or 2016: the underlying context is the phenomenon of illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees or migrants, from the Middle East and several failed states in Africa that have been recently highlighted by Donald Trump’s US Presidential campaign, the Brexit referendum and numerous other instances. And it includes the people smugglers, slave runners and others who exploit these most vulnerable people.
It is always evident that Rebus has a very active moral compass, but I think also that Rankin portrays him as someone who makes judgments on an individual basis, not willing to default to the latest popular trends or tar a whole group with the same brush. He is also presented as someone who has an almost visceral response to human suffering, the suffering many refugees endure.
Fleshmarket Close concerns two cases, both of which present intense moral dilemmas. An illegal immigrant is stabbed to death in a troubled Council housing complex, and the lines are quickly drawn between those expressing hatred for, and those advocating for, immigrants and those from other non-Caucasian racial groups. Rebus' colleague DC Charlie Reynolds and the racist graffiti in the housing complex exemplify the first approach; Caro Quinn, an artist who is maintaining a vigil at the illegal immigrant detention center and Mo Dirwan, an immigration lawyer the latter, both virtually paranoid about injustices visited on immigrants.
In the other case, a convicted rapist, whose victim committed suicide, is released from prison, and shortly after is murdered. Again, Rebus encounters those who cheer his murder, and those whose opinion is that women invite sexual assault by provocative clothing and behaviour. In both cases, it appears people take sides at the extremes, leaving a no-man’s land in the middle where police need to be objective about investigating the crime. It seems that in this novel, Rebus encounters a nihilism that is more pronounced than I recall in the others in the series. Dealing with ethical issues becomes a matter of taking sides between various forms of prejudice, it is a fight between enemies.
The book starts a bit slowly, until Rebus uncovers a few aspects of the story that indicate that more than murder is involved here. That plus a worry that his friendship with DS Siobhan Clark may be on the rocks results in a fascinating narrative.
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.
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