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Mortal Causes is the 6th of Ian Rankin famed Rebus series. The author first introduced us to Rebus in his debut novel Knots and Crosses, and the rather gruff and controversial Scottish detective has become one of the most famous literary detectives of recent years.
Rankin's writing style is of a high quality, as is his characterisation, no matter the subject or the violence he often portrays in his writing. This book is no exception, as we see from the outset that it is not going to be a book for the faint hearted. Rankin gives Rebus a violent murder that appears both political and personal in its motivation, and encompasses not only competition in terms of different police forces, but also reintroduces us to Rebus' nemesis, the crime lord Morris Gerald (Big Ger) Cafferty.
Rankin tends to give Rebus murders: it's the main focus of the books. He develops the various characters around the main plots, and introduces subplots very well in all of his books, but here it is almost as if he has released his own shackles and given himself a bit more room. The book is more graphic, the violence intensified a little bit, and he takes Rebus down some dark personal alleyways as he wrestles with his own personal life and what his job ultimately turns him into.
If you haven't read the Rebus books and haven't formed your impressions of him, then it is hard to describe. He is a gruff and controversial Detective Inspector by this point, divorced, with a daughter, and generally considered to be a loose cannon who is not to be messed with, by police and crooks alike. Always in trouble, but always keeping his morals and integrity and values intact to a certain extent, he detests those who pick on others, and often lets his own emotions get the better of his professional judgment.
Two actors have attempted to portray the character on screen: John hannah and Ken Stott. Hannah isn't hard enough in the role, and Stott is a bit too gruff and ragged. Somewhere in between the two would be ideal, perhaps a Scottish Jame Nesbitt. In fact, the way Rankin describes Rebus' actions here reminds me very much of Nesbitt's character in the TV series Jekyll of a few years ago. While there is no alter ego waiting to emerge from John Rebus, there is a dark and wild side that needs to be kept in check, and elements of the events in Mortal Causes threaten to oust this violent and grudging side of him.
Rankin describes this all very very well indeed, and I find it one of the author's better Rebus novels. It was a brave move, and one that worked. It set the scene quite well for future books, and developed his character as an individual, whereas up until now he had very much relied on other fellow detectives around him. Siobhan Clarke and Brian Holmes are the mainstay 'sidekicks' throughout the majority of the books, with the former sort of taking over from the latter, but the forays out on his own almost take away the safeguard that these two give, and devlop him more as a loose cannon, but a hard as nails cop who likes his drink a bit too much.
Another fine effort from Rankin, one of his best to date, including the more recent titles such as Naming The Dead and Exit Music, Mortal Causes is easily available from most book retailers at the general retail price of either £6.99 or £7.99. It seems there is a change going on where books are becoming the second figure as a matter of course for brand new titles. However, it's worth having a look online or in and around the charity shops where you'll no doubt be able to pick up a copy at a lesser price.
This Rebus novel reunites all the old favourite characters for a very grim reason and literally enters the underworld of Edinburgh.
Rebus is investigating a murder in the 'ancient subterranean streets'. A creepy setting for a torture and murder. The information about the old city in the book is detailed and interesting and the level of research is deep and well evidenced. The subtle details off the setting gives a sinister atmosphere, the placing of the butchers shop!!!!
The connections in this novel take a while to uncover and some part seem unclear - almost like a filler. But when the identity of the victim is established you cannot help feeling sorry for the family. Even though he is Rebus' arch nemesis. Rebus does seem to mellow slightly and take this on board - a new side to him. However when unnecessary this gives way to his usual acerbic manner
As in previous novels Rankin holds back nothing in his description and as a reader you can sense the nauseation among the people present.
This is a police crime novel by Ian Rankin and set in Edinburgh - one of his books about Inspector Rebus. Chronologically it's not the first book (that's Knots and Crosses), but all of Rankin's books can be read as a stand alone novel and this is no exception.
Just to get you into the mood of the book, the first scene in Mortal Causes is of a man being tortured to death. His body is found not long later in one of Edinburgh's underground streets, that was closed for building work. Inspector Rebus is soon on the case, but then the Scottish Crime Squad and also Special Branch from London are taking an interest. Is it connected to the bomb threats that have been coming in frequently recently? With the Edinburgh festival in full swing, there's even more pressure for quick results...
This is Ian Rankin's 6th Rebus novel, and like the others it is excellently written and a great read. Although you always want to know what happened and who was involved, you want to know more what Rebus is going to do (including what trouble he lands himself in!), and how he's going to find out what happened. This is a little different from many of his other books, as he spends quite a lot of time away from St. Leonards station, working from police headquarters at Fettes (where he is seconded to), so DS Holmes and Siobhan Clarke only make relatively brief appearances, which is a shame. Despite this, the book is at least as enjoyable as other Rebus novels.