Quintin Jardine is an author I first came across fairly recently, but I have been so impressed by his work, and in particular this character, Bob Skinner, and the long running series he has written about him, that I have gone a bit mad really. I am slowly working my way through, although out of order as I can't seem to get the timing right at the library.
Set in Edinburgh, the author gets a lot of comparisons with Rankin and the Rebus character, but to me, Skinner is nothing like Rebus. He is well liked, and mostly sticks to the rules. He is also very dedicated to his family. This novel has been like an eye opener to me, because one of my criticisms of the later books was that I couldn't picture some of the characters in my head, because the assumption must have been there that the reader already knew. So finally, I could picture Bob as the author intended me too, and what a fine character he is.
Dedicated to his only daughter, Alex, after his wife died, he has thrown himself into his career as a police officer, and moved quickly up the ranks under the guidance of his Chief Constable James Proud. Now a Detective Chief constable himself and head of CID, he thought he had seen it all, but he comes against a particularly gruesome case when a young lawyer is butchered just off a central area. There are then several more grisly murders, including that of the first victim's fiancee, and it becomes apparent that there is a very clever serial killer on the loose terrorising the streets of Edinburgh.
As Skinner starts to have some of the pieces fall into place, everything is not quite as it seems, and there is evidence of a conspiracy that he is meant to ignore, but Skinner plays by his own rules, and he will not tolerate anyone who doesn't play along his way when it is on his patch.
We also see Skinner 'courting' Sarah, the forensic pathologist, who is later to become his wife, so there is a fully rounded character who is very soft towards his girlfriend and daughter, but can be cool and hard when it comes to dealing with the criminal types. And woe betide anyone who tries to cross the line between Bob and his family because he will not allow it to happen.
I found this novel was absolutely thrilling. Published in 1993, it could actually seem a bit dated now, but the content was still bang up to date. Corruption, conspiracy and terrorism are still high on the agenda today. I found it very hard to pause while reading it as I wanted to carry on and find out what happened next. Some of the chapters are as short as 3 pages long, so it really kept the pace up throughout the story. Jardine is excellent in my opinion, as this character proves to be as vibrant in book eighteen as book one, with no sign of tiring or the reader becoming bored as it is quite unpredictable. I couldn't guess which way this was going to go, and I happily followed the red herring thrown at the reader without questionning it.
I highly recommend this series. I would suggest it is better to read it as close to the right order as you can, otherwise you are left wondering a lot what a certain reference is to, or how these characters are interacting the way they are, so I really appreciated setting the stones in place with this first novel in the series.