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A Question of Blood: An Inspector Rebus Novel Hardcover – 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316095648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316095648
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #763,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Kindle Edition
In 'A Question of Blood' a former SAS operative kills three students at an exclusive private school, then shoots himself. As a former SAS trainee himself, DI John Rebus is familiar with the SAS and is called in by the assigned detective on the case to try to shed light on a possible motive for this murder/suicide. So the underlying theme here is the psychological effect that this exclusive army unit -- as a type of total institution --has on its members.
One of the murdered students is the son of Rebus' cousin, someone he has not seen for decades. So this contact causes Rebus to confront his family past and blood relations, giving the book its title. The other reference for "blood" in the title is the the blood splatters at the crime scene that are the key evidence which leads to solving the case.
At the same time, a man who has been harassing his colleague Siobhan Clark dies in a house fire and Rebus's hands are heavily bandaged from burns so Rebus comes under suspicion as the perpetrator. He claims his hands were injured from scalding water, but is it believable? Because of his injuries, Rebus cannot do many of the ordinary everyday tasks such a holding a glass of beer or driving his car, so Clark gets assigned to the murder/suicide investigation but also to 'baby sit' Rebus.
Through investigating the case, Rebus and Clark are essentially investigating Rebus's personality at the same time. Why has Rebus frequently antagonized his police superiors? Why does he intensely dislike some of his colleague, and they in turn hate him, while at the same time he is fiercely loyal to others? Why has he alienated his family including his former spouse? 'A Question of Blood' is fascinating because unravelling the investigation has this undercurrent of unravelling what we might call Rebus' dysfunctional personality.
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Format: Paperback
This is the 14th book in the Inspector John Rebus series (not counting the book of short stories) and once again Rebus is hard at work intimidating criminals and annoying his superiors. This book is a little unusual because Rebus works pretty closely with a couple of partners, something he has steered clear from with almost pathological alacrity up until now. It felt as though the whole tone of the book was much lighter as a result, particularly when dealing with his emotional state.
The book opens with Rebus in hospital nursing two very badly scalded hands. Apart from raising the question as to how he came to scald his hands, which remains a secret for the majority of the book, it also makes him dependent on others for just about every simple function, such as the important ones like drinking a beer or lighting a cigarette to driving a car. The result is some interesting working interactions between Rebus and his fellow detectives which makes a very refreshing change.
Soon after leaving hospital, Rebus is called in to assist on what appears to be a tragic but straightforward schoolyard murder / suicide shooting. His experience is requested because the murderer is an ex-SAS soldier, a branch of the army that Rebus had trained with before quitting and joining the police. The idea is that Rebus might be able to add some unique insights due to this previous experience, but it also opens the door to a look at John's own past and a part of it that we the reader have rarely been able to look at. It was nice to finally get a bit of an insight into his life before the police, which was always mentioned in passing, but never expanded on satisfactorily.
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Format: Paperback
Ian Rankin's contemplative story of a tragic school shooting in a small Scottish town wrestles with the fragility of human existence. A Question of Blood gives the reader a look at a life that occurs only after death.
Often the hardest thing for a writer in the detective story genre to accomplish is to maintain a high standard of writing, as well as a completely new plot each and every time, but Ian Rankin has done this very well with his Inspector Rebus series; which he started in 1987 when he was meant to be finishing a PhD in English Literature.
Detective Inspector John Rebus is in hospital, hands heavily bandaged after he put them into a hot bath by mistake, or so he says. Visiting him is his friend and colleague DC Siobhan Clarke. She's telling him all about the shooting that occurred in a private school just North of Edinburgh. A man named Lee Herdman walked into a common room shooting three kids, leaving two dead and one injured, after which he turned the weapon on himself. But that is not the only news; Martin Fairstone, the man who had taken to stalking and harassing Siobhan, has been found burnt to death in his own home under suspicious circumstances. Rebus' bandaged hands don't look too good for him, especially since he was seen leaving the house shortly before it went up in flames.
Once out of hospital Rebus is assigned the task of finding Lee Herdman's motive. It doesn't take him long before he discovers that his cousin lost his son on that day and he is reunited with a sense of family that has been dead a long time. However all is not well as old memories haunt his relationship with his cousin. Rebus must evaluate himself and he is scared by what he finds.
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