Set in Darkness: An Inspector Rebus Novel (Inspector Rebus Mysteries) Hardcover – November 4, 2000
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'So what's the story with Mr Supertramp anyway?'There are always plenty of subplots in a Rankin mystery. This time he adds a stalker who happens to be one of Rebus's colleagues, a couple of toughs who hang out in singles clubs and finish their evenings with a rape or two, and the ongoing story of Rebus's tortured past--a bitter divorce, a daughter still recovering from a terrible accident, and a drinking problem. Set in Darkness hit the bestseller list in Great Britain and should enjoy the same success in its U.S. edition. Rankin's ability to keep finding new dimensions in Rebus, handle intricate plot details brilliantly, and evoke the gloom and darkness of his setting keep winning him new admirers, with just cause. --Jane Adams
'He had all this money he either couldn't spend or didn't want to. He took on a new identity. My theory is that he was hiding.'
'Maybe.' He was rifling through the scraps on the desk. She folded her arms, gave him a hard look which he failed to notice. He opened the bread bag and shook out the contents: disposable razor, a sliver of soap, toothbrush. 'An organized mind,' he said. 'Makes himself a wash bag. Doesn't like being dirty.'
'It's like he was acting the part,' she said.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Minotaur Books; 1st edition (November 4, 2000)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312206097
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312206093
- Item Weight : 1.65 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.72 x 1.58 x 9.72 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,591,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Looking forward to reading some more Rebus --- and since there are many books in the series I want to read an early one to see how the character developed over time.
Rankin was strongly recommended by a Scottish acquaintance and this book in particular as being representative.
The plot twists and the eventual weaving together of some apparently unrelated murders is skillfully accomplished. Having been immersed in Scandinavian mystery from the likes of Nesbo, Mankel, and Adler-Olson, with a separate nod to Dibdin, I found the writing and plotting lackluster.
Additionally, I had to repeatedly stop and press my Kindle for the definition of too many localisms. Perhaps there are more engaging Inspector Rebus books, but I am not going to try any others.
"Set in Darkness" is definitely not Rankin's best Rebus book. It's good enough to enjoy - three plot lines are reduced by the end of the book - but to a novice Rankin-reader, it's a tough slog. John Rebus, a moody, go-it-alone kind of cop, is the bane of his supervisors' existence. Not a team player when it counts in solving a crime or two, Rebus is not a sympathetic character. He is, however, an extremely interesting one to read about. He's surrounded - loosely - by his fellow police officers and works with them, as needed. The "loner cop" is one we've all seen many times before. Rankin does a good job at fleshing out both the good guys and the bad guys in his work, and "Set in Darkness" doesn't disappoint in its nuanced character development. I think, though, the plot sort of fell a little short of great.
If you've never read Ian Rankin, I'd start with one of his other Rebus books. They're all described in Amazon fairly well.
Top reviews from other countries
In the early chapters we discover that with Rebus's boss retirement fast approaching 'The Farmer' has put him on a team linked to the new parliament building. Despite Rebus's opinion this is purely to make sure he causes no waves in the run up to his retirement, the move backfires when a body is discovered in the grounds of the new building, Rebus suddenly has a live case to be working on. Soon a prominent politician is found murdered outside the building and Rebus starts to ask questions as to if and how the two are possibly connected.
Meanwhile Siobhan is now free from her stint on the sex crimes squad and back on Rebus's team. Despite this she like her mentor is unable to let things go. We find her going to singles night in the city with one of the victims desperately trying to catch the two men that attacked her and a number of other women in the city. With this case going nowhere she is also the first officer on the scene at the suicide of a homeless man who has jumped off a bridge. Despite her bosses telling her to move on Siobhan is determined to discover more about the man, and when she discovers he had £400,000 in a bank account her resolve becomes stronger. Who was this man, what was his real name and why was he living rough despite his apparent riches.
I found this book slightly disappointing. The main Rebus story was simply too big and complex to be enjoyable. Too many characters, too many suspects and it is dealt with too quickly in my opinion. Even the rape investigation that Siobhan is dealing with is almost forgotten about at times and seems too rushed. I would say this, the eleventh Rebus, is the first time i have ever had to flick backwoods to recap exactly what was going on.
Despite this there are some wonderful moments. The entire Cafferty and Rebus section is wonderfully written and extremely enjoyable. Indeed every time the two of them are on the same page sparks fly. Rebus and Siobhan also work wonderfully well together as usual. Their relationship is evolving and Rankin does a fantastic job of keeping this moving without getting in the way of the plot.
As a fan of the series i would recommend this book to fans of Rebus however if it is a one of read you are looking for there are far stronger candidates than this in the Rebus series. Slightly disappointing.
As part of the preparations Rebus has been co-opted onto the Police and Parliament Liaison Committee, more as a means of keeping him out of trouble than because of any deep political insight he might bring to the role. During one of the meetings of that Committee the members are shown around Queensberry House which will, when refurbished, house some of the parliamentary proceedings until the new, purpose built home is finished. During their tour of Queensberry House the Committee party discover a corpse hidden in one of the rooms that is undergoing renovation.
Shortly afterwards, a homeless man plummets to his death at Waverley Station. Among his meagre possessions is a building society passbook that shows his account had a balance of over £400,000.
Roddy Grieve, New Labour candidate for one of the Edinburgh constituencies in the first Scottish parliament is fond murdered, not far from the building site at Queensberry House. Grieve is a member of a prominent Scottish family: his elder brother is a Conservative MP at Westminster, his mother is a celebrated artist, and his sister was a leading model in the 1970s and is married to a successful progressive rock star. Their brothjer Alastair went missing some twenty years earlier.
As always, the city of Edinburgh itself looms as a significant character in the story, and Rankin captures the atmosphere perfectly. This time, in addition to his own demons (and there are enough of them to be going on with), Rebus has to contend with Derek Linford, a fast-track wonder boy based at Fettes, headquarters of Lothian and Borders Police, who, as a fellow member of the Liaison Committee, is assigned to the investigation of the murder of Roddy Grieve and, though equal only in rank to Rebus, nominally put in charge.
The political context is important, and Rankin plays it well, with Rebus frequently thinking back to the referendum in March 1979, which saw the onset of the fatal cracks in his marriage to Rhona, who had been a passionate advocate of independence.
Longer than its predecessors in the series, for me this book marked Rankin's progression to a writer of serious novels that happened to be about crime, rather than a mere crime novelist.